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Fact or Fiction: Silly Season selections

Just because the PGA Tour season is over, doesn't mean golf is done for the year. Three of the most anticipated events of the winter months will take place this week, featuring some of the game's biggest names.

The annual Skins Game will feature Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Fred Couples and Fred Funk. The Grand Slam of Golf will also spotlight Woods, as he hits Hawaii with fellow '05 major winners Michael Campbell and Phil Mickelson and three-time major champ Vijay Singh. Meanwhile, Michelle Wie tees it up with the men once again, at the Casio World Open in Japan.

Our panel of experts predicts the champs -- and where Wie will finish -- in this special edition of Fact or Fiction.

  • Pick to win -- Skins Game

    Ron Sirak, executive editor, Golf World magazine: FRED COUPLES. The major championship season is just beginning for Freddie. Hey, he lives for this.

    Bob Harig, contributor, ESPN.com: FRED COUPLES. Timing is everything in a Skins Game and the King of the Silly Season will make a birdie when the pot is the biggest.

    Brian Wacker, assistant editor, GolfDigest.com: TIGER WOODS. It's not too often -- as in never -- that Tiger isn't the favorite to win a golf tournament, but that's what happens when you have a guy who's won the Skins Game a record five times, including the last two. Picking Fred Couples almost seems too easy, so I'll go out on a limb and pick, uh, Tiger, who's won just about everything else this year.

    Jason Sobel, golf editor, ESPN.com: FRED FUNK. Woods is the game's top male player. Sorenstam is the game's top female player. Couples is the King of Silly Season. Hmmm ... one of these guys is doing his own thing, one of these guys just doesn't belong. Funk is seemingly in the foursome for his effervescent personality and the entertainment value of whether he'll be outdriven by Annika, but here's saying he'll have the last laugh come Sunday.

  • Pick to win -- Grand Slam of Golf

    Sobel: PHIL MICKELSON. The last time Lefty played a competitive round at the Poipu Bay course in Kauai, he shot 59 and won this event. He might not go that low again, but why not? After all, he's well rested; while Woods, Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell were all busy grinding it out in late-season events, Mickelson was reportedly working on his trick-or-treating skills.

    Harig: PHIL MICKELSON. He won't shoot 59 like last year, but Phil will go low again.

    Wacker: PHIL MICKELSON. Lefty generally shuts it down after the PGA Championship, but it's a different story when it comes to Silly Season events. In fact, I can think of 59 reasons to go with Mickelson at the Grand Slam of Golf.

    Sirak: TIGER WOODS. This could be a runaway. He loves to play in Hawaii. Besides, he'll earn enough to give holiday tips to the crew on his yacht.

  • Where will Michelle Wie finish at the Casio World Open?

    Sirak: TIED FOR 17TH. The kid bounces back from her disqualification in her professional debut at the LPGA Samsung World Championship to recapture headlines with a top-20 finish against the men in Japan.

    Harig: MISSED CUT. The field is not as strong as a PGA Tour event, but it is still filled with male professionals. Wie will miss the cut.

    Wacker: TOP-50. "She certainly has the talent to make the cut," Woods told reporters last week in Japan. Hey, if Tiger likes her chances to make the cut, so do I. The only other times a woman played in a Japanese men's tour event was in 2003 when Sophie Gustafson missed the cut at the Casio World Open and this past week when Ai Miyazato did likewise at the Dunlop Phoenix. Sophie Gustafson and Ai Miyazato are hardly Michelle Wie, folks.

    Sobel: NINTH PLACE. Last year's winner was David Smail and the top-10 included such luminaries as Charl Schwartzel and Ryoken Kawagishi. If you think Wie doesn't have the game to compete with those guys, well, just watch and learn.

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