Foregone Conclusion


THE TOUR Championship
September 25-28, 2008
Tournament #42 of 48
East Lake GC [Atlanta, GA]
Par 35-35=70 - 7,300 yards
Years hosted: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004-present
Purse: $7,000,000 (Winner-$1,260,000)
Field size: 30
No cut


Winning isn't everything as THE TOUR Championship proves. This year's field includes 15 golfers that haven't hoisted an individual trophy this year, including four that have never won on the PGA Tour. For this week's trivia question, name the last golfer to make THE TOUR Championship his first victory on the PGA Tour.

HINTS: He's in the field this week and hasn't won this year. Basically, I've narrowed it down to 11 golfers for you. ANSWER is at "The 19th Hole."

First Tee

Tiger Who? What a freakin' Ryder Cup. I didn't think it was going to live up to the months of hype but lo and behold . A perfect set-up and incredible weather only added to the value. Props to the PGA of America for selecting accessible and "scoreable" pin positions. It's too bad that the apparently golf-illiterate British press is railing Captain Nick Faldo. Of course, if you didn't expect that after a loss, now you know better, but whatever happened to giving credit where it's due? The U.S. made more putts. Period. It's golf. And it was at its best. What a ride. And you thought the U.S. Open was exciting.

So it's back to the predetermined FedExCup chase this week. As a walking lottery ticket, Vijay Singh might have thought to hire bodyguards and doctors to live with him since clinching the $10 million first prize. Certainly, that dynamic is one few humans will ever experience. Since he still has to actually play 72 holes to earn the spoils, it's possible that he might take extra precautions during THE TOUR Championship if faced with potential danger (i.e. tree root) that could cause a withdrawal-leading injury. And man, is he lucky that Tonya Harding isn't in the field.

It's likely you've already heard that East Lake was virtually killed by last year's drought. (This is in contrast to the greens at nearby TPC Sugarloaf, which were mostly spared in advance of the final AT&T Classic.) So, Rees Jones was brought in again to get East Lake back on its feet. Jones added undulations under the new greens (Bermudagrass), which will add to the premium of distance control this week. Still, with the Top 30 at a scorer's paradise, you don't need terribly deep analysis to handicap the tourney. Just keep in mind that other venues have hosted the event as recently as 2003. See "The Scoreboard" above and "Past Champions in the Field" below for more details.

With a season-low 30 golfers in the field, most will still have a shot at the trophy after 36 holes, which makes the third round a better starting point from which to project the final results. Until then, below is a glance at all 30 guys, their current FedExCup rank and all playoff results. (I've focused only on history at East Lake for those that have it.) For many, this will be the final event on their 2008 PGA Tour schedule, but all sorts of goals remain unfulfilled, including inaugural victories (for Briny Baird, Tim Clark, Ken Duke and Bubba Watson). And the engraver for the FedExCup trophy may already have his/her assignment and all 30 have already punched tickets to the Masters, but money is money and it should be a shootout.

Incidentally, the 2010 Ryder Cup will be held October 1-3, which allows for the opportunity for the PGA Tour to schedule the entire playoffs before the biennial event. Even so, since the FedExCup runs concurrently with the final weeks of Ryder Cup qualifying, I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of the Euros decline PGA Tour membership in 2010. Even though they made this year's squad and teed it up in the playoffs, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter will probably avoid duplicating their 2008 schedules ever again. (Membership is required to qualify for the FedExCup.) Also tugging at the internationals is the first Race to Dubai, which tees off in two months on the European Tour. That could make it difficult for one or two golfers to fulfill a PGA Tour membership while chasing that loot in 2009. Of course, Phil Mickelson, for one, has intimated that he might establish European Tour membership with that carrot in mind. It's never too soon to start thinking about what the PGA Tour offseason can bring, is it? Until then, keep it right here for full coverage of the remainder of the PGA Tour schedule.

The Elements

While it's a far cry from the weather that plagued the Florida Swing and other events in the first half, gusty winds will headline opening round play this week, so daily leagues might want to adjust to predominantly low hitters like Justin Leonard and Robert Allenby for Thursday. The breezes will abate by Friday when negligible conditions take over and extend through the weekend. There is a (very) slight chance of rain on Friday but the guys would probably play through it anyway. The temperature will bob between the low 70s and low 80s throughout the event.

Course Scoring Averages - 2007

Round 1 - 67.500 (lowest 1st round average among all events in 2007)
Round 2 - 67.833 (lowest 2nd round average among all events in 2007)
Round 3 - 67.800 (lowest 3rd round average among all events in 2007)
Round 4 - 70.167

Past Champions in the Field

WINNERS @ East Lake

YEAR: Golfer (Starts @ East Lake only) - 2007 finish . Other Top 10s @ East Lake only

2002: Vijay Singh (7) - T-7 . 2nd (1998); T-3 (2000); T-4 (2005); T-8 (2006); 9th (2004)
2000: Phil Mickelson (5) - 20th . T-5 (2002)


YEAR (Location): Golfer (Starts @ East Lake only) - 2007 finish . Top 10s at East Lake only

2003 (Champions GC; Houston, TX): Chad Campbell (3) - DNP
2001 (Champions GC; Houston, TX): Mike Weir (2) - DNP . T-4 (2004)
1995 (Southern Hills CC; Tulsa, OK): Billy Mayfair (2) - DNP

In Defense

Injured Tiger Woods did not qualify.


Jim Furyk
FedExCup rank: 4
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: T-7
BMW: T-3
With the FedExCup in Vijay Singh's hands, Furyk is really the best story at this point, no? He's winless on the year but was knocking on the door before winning the clinching match in the Ryder Cup. Plus, he never ever mails it in.

Top 5

Vijay Singh
FedExCup rank: 1
The Barclays: P1
Deutsche Bank: 1st
BMW: T-44
Giving Singh two weeks off is like giving Tiger Woods strokes. And remember, there is still a $7 million purse this week alone.

Anthony Kim
FedExCup rank: 6
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: T-27
BMW: T-3
If he strikes it like he did in his singles match over Sergio Garcia, Kim could easily win this week. There will be no letdown.

Stuart Appleby
FedExCup rank: 20
The Barclays: T-19
Deutsche Bank: T-33
BMW: T-38
In four starts at East Lake, Appleby has three Top 10s and a T-15. Like Singh, he's also quite rested.

Tim Clark
FedExCup rank: 23
The Barclays: T-38
Deutsche Bank: T-15
BMW: T-8
Currently in the midst of one of his hot streaks, so you know what that means. A high finish is imminent. Also placed T-6 at the Wyndham (the week before The Barclays).

Top 10

Camilo Villegas
FedExCup rank: 2
The Barclays: MC
Deutsche Bank: T-3
BMW: 1st
There are, oh, a few differences between Villegas' homeland of Colombia in South America and the North American country of Mexico, so when Villegas is on camera and the talking heads decide to play with the Spanish language, you would think they'd check their resources before connecting Villegas to Mexico. Fellas, just because Villegas speaks the same language spoken in Mexico doesn't mean he should be associated with your Mexican references. None were insulting per se but you're not doing yourself any favors. Meanwhile, Villegas has officially arrived. He also has the most to lose this week. He's rested and ready for the challenge.

Hunter Mahan
FedExCup rank: 16
The Barclays: T-31
Deutsche Bank: T-15
BMW: T-8
I actually felt pretty good for Mahan and his ability to rise up at Valhalla. Like many that have emailed me, I still don't understand why there wasn't more media focus on his use of "slaves." And I'm equally surprised that Mahan didn't offer a more specific apology on using the term. But, if you're into forgiving and forgetting, keep it separate from his Ryder Cup heroics, as great play doesn't compensate for lack of character. If you don't think so, then you are also a Colin Montgomerie apologist. Meanwhile, there is no reason to think that the youthful Mahan will slow down. His game is utterly dialed in right now.

Trevor Immelman
FedExCup rank: 19
The Barclays: 70th
Deutsche Bank: T-50
BMW: T-13
That's a sweet finish at Bellerive. Plus, he was T-5 in 2006 in his only career appearance at East Lake. It's easy to fall back on the premise that he's already gotten his this year. That's when they usually jump out and bite.

Ernie Els
FedExCup rank: 21
The Barclays: MC
Deutsche Bank: T-3
BMW: T-17
Great record at East Lake, including T-10s in 2006 and 2004.

D.J. Trahan
FedExCup rank: 25
The Barclays: MC
Deutsche Bank: T-67
BMW: T-5
Maybe the first guy thinking of making next year's President's Cup team? That T-5 at the BMW was AFTER he was overlooked for a Ryder Cup wild card, so how can't you like the guy? Who knows, maybe the pressure was off already and he could just go play. All the more reason to plug him in this week.

Top 25

Sergio Garcia
FedExCup rank: 3
The Barclays: P-2
Deutsche Bank: T-5
BMW: T-20
Last three weeks: eliminated from first prize in FedExCup chase; week off to think about that and prep for the Ryder Cup; then loses Ryder Cup in grand fashion, failing to meet all expectations. Fun stuff.

K.J. Choi
FedExCup rank: 8
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: T-21
BMW: T-5
Has finished outside the Top 20 in his last three starts at East Lake but has played solid of late and comes in sans any ups and downs of the Ryder Cup. Well, unless he lost in Vegas.

Phil Mickelson
FedExCup rank: 9
The Barclays: T-19
Deutsche Bank: T-73
BMW: T-17
When the calendar says September, it's time to shut it down. Totally obligatory start for Lefty. Hey, at least no one skipped a FedExCup start this year due to apathy or politics.

Kevin Sutherland
FedExCup rank: 11
The Barclays: P-2
Deutsche Bank: T-50
BMW: T-55
One of the steadiest performers on tour, K-Sut has nine Top 25s in 23 starts. Plays his best on the more classic tracks (and TPC Scottsdale).

Steve Stricker
FedExCup rank: 12
The Barclays: T-19
Deutsche Bank: T-13
BMW: T-10
Although elated, Stricker was still a tad defeatist after winning the Ryder Cup. Always his own worst enemy despite being one of the easier guys for whom to root. He's ranked high enough to make a serious impact on the chase this week, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt in terms of motivation. Look for something just outside the Top 10 at East Lake.

Dudley Hart
FedExCup rank: 14
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: MC
BMW: 2nd
This is not a misprint. Hart is one of two guys that played his way into this field at the BMW (D.J. Trahan was the other). Lives and dies off the tee, where Thursday's wind will add to the challenge.

Stewart Cink
FedExCup rank: 15
The Barclays: T-38
Deutsche Bank: T-33
BMW: T-60
Best finish in four starts at East Lake is his T-11 last year. Since winning the Travelers, has failed to post a Top 30 in six events. He squeezes into my Top 25 because I've selected five other guys that actually grade lower.

Carl Pettersson
FedExCup rank: 17
The Barclays: T-48
Deutsche Bank: T-21
BMW: T-33
Nothing about which to get excited here, I'm sorry.

Robert Allenby
FedExCup rank: 18
The Barclays: T-38
Deutsche Bank: T-44
BMW: T-38
After 14 Top 25s in his first 20 starts, he has zero in his last four. Again, like with Stewart Cink, he's listed here because at least 83.33 percent of the field will post a Top 25.

Ken Duke
FedExCup rank: 22
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: T-10
BMW: T-33
He continues to increase his value for 2009 but I still want to see him tighten the screws another quarter-turn. He's a front-runner to pick up his first win in the Fall Series if it doesn't happen this week.

Briny Baird
FedExCup rank: 24
The Barclays: T-48
Deutsche Bank: T-21
BMW: T-38
Assuming he's not injured, I like the fact that he withdrew from the Viking to concentrate on this week. Surely, that was the plan if he qualified. He's 1st on tour in GIR.

Andres Romero
FedExCup rank: 27
The Barclays: T-55
Deutsche Bank: T-50
BMW: T-44
Still has just one Top 30 since the Masters. Even if he cards quad 80s this week, he'll be the Rookie of the Year. In fact, he's the only rookie that qualified for East Lake.

Billy Mayfair
FedExCup rank: 28
The Barclays: T-31
Deutsche Bank: T-78
BMW: T-22
Lowest-ranked golfer at the start of the playoffs (37th) that has failed to post a Top 20 in the playoffs and still qualify this week. He just keeps chuggin' along and remains one of the best ball-strikers on tour.

Bubba Watson
FedExCup rank: 29
The Barclays: T-12
Deutsche Bank: T-44
BMW: T-28
His length will get him in trouble at East Lake unless he contains it. Still years ahead of the tour's learning curve, so if he goes winless in the Fall Series, it's no biggie.

Chad Campbell
FedExCup rank: 30
The Barclays: T-65
Deutsche Bank: T-7
Quite a couple of weeks for CC, huh? Became a daddy and still qualified for THE TOUR Championship on the number. Was a wild card selection for the victorious Americans at the Ryder Cup, where he validated his selection. As #30 this week, he has absolutely nothing to lose. But he has to be on fumes right now. Heck, even Oliver Wilson withdrew from the British Masters this week.


Mike Weir
FedExCup rank: 5
The Barclays: T-7
Deutsche Bank: 2nd
BMW: T-67
Completely shut it down to rest his body last week. He says it's no big deal but you make the call.

Justin Leonard
FedExCup rank: 7
The Barclays: T-7
Deutsche Bank: T-7
BMW: T-17
This is based completely on his inability to sink any putts on Sunday. I can understand if you disagree so switch him for Andres Romero above.

Ben Curtis
FedExCup rank: 10
The Barclays: T-4
Deutsche Bank: T-27
BMW: T-13
Probably immune to even having a letdown since he's so even keel, but fatigue must be a factor. Bottom line, I'll be impressed if he can keep the mojo working after an unprecedented stretch of great golf (for him) and the emotion of last week.

Kenny Perry
FedExCup rank: 13
The Barclays: T-48
Deutsche Bank: T-80
BMW: T-44
The third of three Ryder Cuppers in my Bottom 5. With the FedExCup sandwiching the Ryder Cup, this is new territory for all of these guys, but it must be an emotional roller coaster. With first prize out of reach and his season goal fulfilled, it's time to file Perry away.

Ryuji Imada
FedExCup rank: 26
The Barclays: MC
Deutsche Bank: T-13
BMW: T-67
That T-13 at TPC Boston is his only Top 65 in three months.

Ned Said, ".

Group A
Vijay Singh . He won the first two events of the FedExCup Playoffs and is a virtual lock on the top prize. His history at THE TOUR Championship is outstanding, with 12 Top 10s in 14 starts.
Jim Furyk . He has played better in each event of the FedExCup Playoffs, with a T-12 at The Barclays, a T-7 at the Deutsche Bank and a T-3 last time out at the BMW. Last week, he played well at the Ryder Cup with 2-1/2 points won and his singles victory was the final point that clinched the victory for the U.S. His record at THE TOUR Championship is very good, with five Top 10s in 10 starts.
Hunter Mahan . He started off slow in the playoffs, with a T-31 at The Barclays, but has stepped his game up a notch in the last two events, with a T-15 at the Deutsche Bank and a T-8 at the BMW. Mahan played in his first TOUR Championship last year, finishing in a tie for fifth place.
Phil Mickelson . For the most part, Mickelson has played Top-20 golf all season. His only real clunker came in the playoffs, when he finished tied for 73rd place at the Deutsche Bank. His history at THE TOUR Championship is good, with two Top 10s in 11 starts, including a championship in 2000.
Any of the other five players would be a good start.

Group B
Anthony Kim . It's been a great season for Kim, with two championships on the resume. He has played well in the playoffs, with a T-12 at the Barclays and a T-3 last time out at the BMW. Kim earned 2-1/2 points the U.S. team in last week's Ryder Cup and defeated Sergio Garcia in the opening match of singles on Sunday.
Camilo Villegas . Right now, he is one of the hottest golfers on the tour, with a T-4 at the PGA, a T-3 at the Deutsche Bank and a championship at the BMW. He played in his first TOUR Championship last year, finishing in a tie for ninth place.
Mike Weir . He had a tough tournament last time out. Before that, he had a T-5 at the Canadian Open, a T-7 at The Barclays and a second place at the Deutsche Bank. His record at THE TOUR Championship is good, with two Top 10s in five starts, including a championship in 2001.
Justin Leonard . Leonard's game has moved up a notch in the playoffs, with T-7s at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank then a T-17 at the BMW. He had a very good Ryder Cup, earning 2-1/2 points in four matches. His record at THE TOUR Championship is good, with four Top 10s in 10 careers starts.
Stuart Appleby . He has had a great season, with six Top 10s, but his best finish in the playoffs is a T-19 at The Barclays. His record at THE TOUR Championship is good, with three Top 10s in seven starts.
Ken Duke . Duke was one of the most consistent players on the tour in the second half of the summer, with five Top 15s in six starts. His T-25 at last week's Viking Classic was a bit of a disappointment given the strength of the field. This will be his first TOUR Championship.
Chad Campbell . He got into THE TOUR Championship despite having to withdraw from the BMW because of the birth of his first child. Campbell played in three matches in the Ryder Cup, earning two points for the U.S. team. He has only one Top 10 in four starts at THE TOUR Championship, but that Top 10 was a championship in 2003.
An argument can be made for any of the other eight players.

Group C
Kenny Perry . He hasn't really played well in the playoffs but his putter got hot last week at the Ryder Cup, where he earned 2-1/2 points for the U.S. in his four matches. His history at THE TOUR Championship is good, with three Top 10s in eight starts.
Tim Clark . Clark has played well recently, with a T-6 at the Wyndham, a T-15 at the Deutsche Bank and a T-8 at the BMW. He earned his first Top 10 in two starts at THE TOUR Championship last year, when he finished in a tie for seventh place.
Dudley Hart . Hart has played well in the playoffs, with a T-12 at The Barclays and a second place last time out at the BMW. This will be his first time at THE TOUR Championship.
Ben Curtis . Ever since a missed cut at the U.S. Open, Curtis has played some very good golf, with a T-7 at the British Open and a P-2 at the PGA Championship. He has also played well in the playoffs, with a T-4 at The Barclays and a T-12 at the BMW. Curtis also had a victory in singles over Lee Westwood at the Ryder Cup. His history at THE TOUR Championship is pretty light, with a T-21 in 2006 in his only start.
Immelman and Romero can also be started this week.
Group 1: Vijay Singh . Recent play and an outstanding record at THE TOUR Championship make him the easy pick.
Group 2: Jim Furyk . He has played well in the playoffs and was very tough last week in the Ryder Cup.
Group 3: Justin Leonard . Right now, he is playing the best in the playoffs and he played well in the Ryder Cup.
Group 4: Hunter Mahan . He was ultra-tough last week in the Ryder Cup, leading the U.S. team with 3 1/2 points.
Group 5: Phil Mickelson . He is just the best player in this group.
Group 6: Stewart Cink . None of the players in the group are playing their best right now but Cink did get a T-11 at East Lake last year.
Group 7: Kenny Perry . His putter came alive again last week. Chad Campbell would also be a good pick.
Ken Duke . A carryover player. Hopefully, he will play a little better this week.
Vijay Singh . A carryover player. Almost a must start given his recent play and history at THE TOUR Championship.
Camilo Villegas . He has played well in the playoffs, winning his first championship at the BMW.
Dudley Hart . His second place finish at the BMW got him into THE TOUR Championship for the first time in his career.

RESHUFFLE - Q School/Nationwide Tour

The final reshuffle was made at the conclusion of the Viking Classic. From now on, only earnings will be updated here. Golfers whose earnings are in bold type are projected to have secured a 2009 PGA Tour card. From the fantasy perspective, this list provides non-weekly formats a projected value (i.e. likelihood of qualifying for a field on merit, ability to set schedule) of golfers playing out of this category.

Final "number." Golfer, 2008 earnings

NOTE: None of the golfers on this list qualified for THE TOUR Championship.


1. Nicholas Thompson, $1,576,526
2. John Merrick, $1,269,587
3. Kevin Streelman, $1,126,165
4. Michael Letzig, $858,477
5. Tim Wilkinson, $757,964
6. Brad Adamonis, $756,053
7. Martin Laird, $732,560
8. Patrick Sheehan, $723,454
9. Matt Jones, $703,000
10. Dustin Johnson, $635,645
11. Jason Day, $591,335
12. Marc Turnesa, $580,052
13. James Driscoll, $577,326
14. Jon Mills, $489,510
15. Frank Lickliter II, $488,740
16. Roland Thatcher, $445,212 (out until 2009)
17. Justin Bolli, $438,022
18. Tag Ridings, $400,089
19. Y.E. Yang, $392,048
20. Brett Rumford, $373,579
21. Scott Sterling, $319,912
22. Carlos Franco, $316,340
23. Omar Uresti, $279,110
24. Brenden Pappas, $247,934
25. Kenneth Ferrie, $228,398
26. Jin Park, $227,102
27. Kent Jones, $215,671
28. John Riegger, $215,408
29. Bob Sowards, $189,637
30. Jimmy Walker, $173,759
31. Chad Collins, $168,605
32. Brad Elder, $149,661
33. Todd Demsey, $146,734
34. Tom Scherrer, $136,131
35. Chris Stroud, $129,845
36. Alejandro Canizares, $125,539
37. David Lutterus, $120,088
38. Jim McGovern, $114,843
39. Kyle Thompson, $109,930
40. Paul Claxton, $93,323
41. Michael Bradley, $77,584
42. Jason Allred, $71,953
43. Cody Freeman, $55,833
44. Ron Whittaker, $48,217
45. Jonathan Kaye, $41,375 (possibly out until 2009)
46. Travis Perkins, $36,583
47. Tommy Gainey, $30,185
48. Duffy Waldorf, $7,350 (out until 2009)
49. Carl Paulson, $0 (hasn't played anywhere since 2005)

Medical Extensions

Golfer (PRIORITY RANKING) - has: # of events played/$ earned . remaining: # of events remaining under extension/$ remaining unearned

* - In the field at THE TOUR Championship

Ben Crane [MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Jason Bohn (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Brett Quigley (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
*Dudley Hart (MAJOR) - has met his requirement and will retain this status for the remainder of 2008
Chris Perry (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 18/$515,445
Joey Snyder III (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 25/$647,466
Brandt Jobe (MAJOR) - has: 17/$254,114 . remaining: 6/$520,050
David Berganio, Jr. (MAJOR) - has: 1/$0 . remaining: 5/$346,345
Hank Kuehne (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 18/$636,221
Shane Bertsch (MAJOR) - has: 24/$742,476 . remaining: 4/$2,944
Paul Azinger (MAJOR) - has: 8/$42,590 . remaining: 6/$568,521
Wes Short, Jr. (MAJOR) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 15/$743,061
David Duval (MAJOR) - has: 16/$83,727 . remaining: 4/$629,508
Patrick Moore (NATIONWIDE/3 WINS) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 12/$452,636
Jonathan Kaye (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 8/$41,375 . remaining: 13/$743,805
Michael Bradley (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 10/$77,584 . remaining: 4/$675,707
Carl Paulson (Q SCHOOL/NATIONWIDE) - has: 0/$0 . remaining: 15/$428,522
#Kris Cox (NON-EXEMPT) - has: 8/$0 . remaining: 0/$748,451

# - Cox also fell $462,468 short of qualifying for conditional status. He is now limited to sponsor's exemptions on the PGA Tour and will likely play the Nationwide Tour full-time.

Birthdays - September 24-30

9/24 . Andrew Buckle (26)
9/25 . Gil Morgan (62); David Branshaw (39); Tjaart van der Walt (34); John Mallinger (29)
9/26 . Trevor Dodds (49); Fredrik Jacobson (34)
9/27 . Chris Perry (47); Dennis Paulson (46)
9/28 . Tom Byrum (48); Chris Tidland (36); Will MacKenzie (34); Kenneth Ferrie (30)
9/29 . Kermit Zarley (67)
9/30 . none

The 19th Hole

While the prime cuts of PGA Tour membership will be hanging up their Softspikes until 2009 following THE TOUR Championship, it will soon be time to start peeking at the new blood on the way. Q School won't end until December 8 but 25 Nationwide Tour grads will get crowned on November 9. It's in that latter group where you'll find several big-name, promising youngsters, many of which were directly influenced by the coming of Tiger Woods.

All but assured of PGA Tour cards:
Colt Knost - 23 years young, 11th on money list, 2007 U.S. Amateur and Publinx champ, 2007 Walker Cup
Casey Wittenberg - 23, 12th on money list, owns lowest finish for an amateur at the Masters in the last 46 years, 2003 Walker Cup
Peter Tomasulo - 26, 13th on money list, captain of the 2004 NCAA champions at the University of California, 2003 Palmer Cup
Brendon Todd - 23, 15th on money list, member of 2005 NCAA champions at the University of Georgia, where he was a four-time All-American

On the positive side of the bubble right now:
Spencer Levin - 24, 22nd on money list, best finish by an amateur at the U.S. Open in the last 37 years, 2005 Palmer Cup
Ricky Barnes - 27, 25th on money list, 2002 U.S. Amateur champ, co-winner of 2003 Ben Hogan Award

You're probably familiar with most if not all of these guys, albeit remotely in some instances, but always, always, ALWAYS be careful not to overvalue any of them when you start making offseason draft notes. The PGA Tour is the ultimate career reset and the learning curve is greater than in any other sport. All would be rookies in 2009 and what a rookie class it would be, but there is still some golf to play.

Revisiting my early season predictions for 2008 Rookie of the Year, I had three finalists: Dustin Johnson, Alejandro Canizares and Brett Rumford. (In full disclosure and in defense, in early January when I went out of that limb in my first few days with Rotoworld, I wasn't aware that Andres Romero had accepted PGA Tour membership.) DJ was the early front-runner before he started a seven-month and still ongoing campaign with just one Top 30. Canizares made cuts but not money. And Rumford basically eagled his first event but lost his ball on the second and still hasn't found it. So, while the juice of draft day giddiness might already be pumping through your veins, particularly if you have no shot to win your league this year, the odds are that you will still benefit from the ones that got away.

"Starter" ANSWER: Chad Campbell posted a three-stroke victory at the 2003 edition of THE TOUR Championship for his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour. His most recent of four career wins occurred at last year's Viking Classic.

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