News & ToursDecember 29, 2009

Questions: 10 for '10

1. When will Tiger Woods return?

Remember, it doesn't really qualify as "an indefinite break" unless he misses the San Diego Open that begins on Jan. 28. He would not have played before then under any circumstance.

2. Can PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem keep sponsor money flowing?

Tournaments without title sponsors (there are two in January alone) were once the norm. But that was when Arnold Palmer was still winning PGA Tour events.

3. Is Ernie Els' reign as an international star over or is it just taking an indefinite break?

Els hasn't won since March of 2008 (the Honda Classic) and has fallen to 17th in the World Ranking.

4. Is the Rory and Ryo Show ready for prime time?

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, 20, and Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, 18, are ninth and 30th in the World Ranking, respectively, and the two most exciting young players in the game.

5. Is Michael Sim as good as advertised?

Geoff Ogilvy called him "the next great Australian player." Sim, 25, played the Nationwide Tour in '09 and earned a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. He also has risen to 44th in the World Ranking.

6. Will Lee Westwood parlay his best year into something better?

The winner of the Order of Merit on the European Tour, Westwood has yet to win a major championship.

7. What will Michelle Wie do for an encore?

Wie, 20, enjoyed a breakout year in '09, winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and starring in the Solheim Cup.

8. Will Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas remain missing in action?

In '09, Villegas fell from seventh to 23rd in the World Ranking, Kim from 11th to 24th. Neither won a tournament.

9. Will Padraig Harrington's swing changes begin to pay off?

After winning two majors in '08, he didn't win in '09, though after the British Open he had six straight top-10 finishes.

10. Is stardom a formality for America's two most heralded rookies, Rickie Fowler and Amanda Blumenherst?

It seems that way. Fowler tied for seventh and lost in a playoff in his first two PGA Tour starts as a professional. Blumenherst won first stage of LPGA qualifying by six shots, tied for fifth in the CVS Pharmacy LPGA Challenge, then won the final stage of LPGA qualifying by two shots.

-- John Strege

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