Wishes for the players who have everything
Golfers at the highest level of the game are not wanting for much. The sleek putter, the titanium driver -- the toys Joe Hacker craves -- are but tools of the trade for them, easy to acquire without the slightest hint of financial trauma.
In fact, for them the stuff is as plentiful as confetti on New Year's Eve. Many are paid to play various equipment. Must be nice.
And when you consider that 72 players made more than $1 million this year on the PGA Tour, and 21 LPGA players crossed the $500,000 mark, it is hard to imagine them coveting anything for Christmas.
After all, if they don't get it, they can simply go buy it.
Nonetheless, Christmas comes, and everybody has wishes.
With that in mind, we've come up with a list for various pro golfers. The problem is, in most cases, Santa can't help and money can't buy what they need. That doesn't mean these things are any less desired:
Once the best player in the world, still just two-plus years removed from winning the British Open, Duval made only four cuts in 2003 and finished 212th on the money list. Somehow, the previous form must return.
Nobody at his level travels as much as Els, who logged some 100,000 miles in 2003. He still won seven times around the world and captured the European tour's Order of Merit. Imagine how he might do if he stayed in one place for a prolonged time.
Only in the subconscious could any of these players have believed they'd be celebrating Christmas as major champions. First it was Lunke at the U.S. Women's Open, where she drained every putt and won a playoff. Then came Curtis, ranked 396th in the world, winning the first major he ever played at the British Open. A month later, Micheel capped a surprising year of first-time major winners by capturing the PGA Championship. Until they experience more success, they'll each be dogged by the notion that perhaps their wins were flukes.
Somehow, he managed to win four times, despite the death by suicide of his brother-in-law and rumors, which he vehemently denied, of marital trouble.
We mean one he can hit in play. Of course Mickelson can get his hands on any driver he wants, but for whatever reason, he couldn't get the ones he used in 2003 to put the ball in the fairway. He was 189th on tour in driving accuracy (that's second-to-last for those scoring at home) in 2003. Forget winning a major championship, Mickelson didn't win any tournament last season and finished a disappointing 38th on the money list. Throw in his 0-for-5 Presidents Cup and it was a year to forget.
He won four times, led the PGA Tour money list for the first time and was in contention seemingly every week. And yet, he might be remembered more for his unflattering comments about Annika Sorenstam and his continuing feud with the media than for his career season on the course. Singh, who spent the years when others are grooming their games in a Borneo rain forest pounding balls, has a great story to tell, but rarely does. What a shame.
The world's best female golfer surprised herself and plenty of others with her impressive performance at the PGA Tour's Colonial, then went out and won two LPGA majors, completed a career Grand Slam, won six tournaments overall and nearly $2 million in official prize money. Oh yeah, she also entered the LPGA Hall of Fame. With 48 victories, what's left? For Sorenstam, it would be easy to walk away.
The 16-time LPGA Tour winner did herself no favors by saying in a magazine interview that "Asians are killing our tour.'' The story came out the very day she was becoming the first woman to compete in a Champions Tour event.
With one of the all-time back-nine putting performances in the final at The Masters, Weir went from nice player to major champion. The win also made him a three-time winner in the first four months of the season and a Canadian icon. But Weir, who beat Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh at three of the four majors, didn't win again the rest of the season, and found fame has quite a harsh spotlight.
She is not a pro, but that's the point. Wie is traveling around the country and trying to be like one -- and she's only 14 years old. Consider that 10 years from now, Wie will be just 24 -- nine years younger than Annika Sorenstam is now.
He won five times in 2003, had the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour, finished second on the money list and won his fifth straight Player of the Year award. And something is wrong because he didn't win a major?
Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times, and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org