Questions and answers about the 2005 golf season

Questions and answers about everything except Fred Funk's skirt:

How did Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson finish 2005?
Apparently on the same page. Neither is expected to begin 2006 by playing in the Mercedes Championships.

Are they confused? Don't they know the shorter schedule doesn't debut until 2007?
They're well aware and have consulted many times with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. At last month's Tour Championship, Woods endorsed a longer offseason, before departing for Japan, China, Hawaii and Palm Springs. Mickelson must like the idea, too. He didn't even go to the Tour Championship. And, no, it wasn't because he was still tired from playing that extra hole at the Presidents Cup.

Is the FedEx Cup a good concept?
It's a knockoff of NASCAR's Nextel Cup, designed to provide golf with a gripping September playoff. Tony Stewart won NASCAR's 10-race "Chase for the Championship."

Was it a great chase?
Not really. Stewart didn't win any of those 10 races, and all he had to do in the final event was avoid a crash. He drove like he was going to the grocery store, finished 15th and then went directly to the parade in Times Square.

How can the PGA Tour prevent a similar anticlimactic finish?
By having a points system that won't allow, say, Woods to snag a $10 million jackpot by shooting 80, then flying home early. Or to Japan, China, Hawaii and Palm Springs.

Did the LPGA create a buzz in 2005?
Absolutely. Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel. Plus, Ai Miyazato won the qualifying school tournament by 12 shots. She's only 20.

Why are so many prodigies women, not men?
Vijay Singh's theory is that guys get burned out in high-pressure college programs. Then, if they make it to the PGA Tour, they discover they can live happily ever after with toys instead of trophies.

So, women are taking over?
Everywhere. There's a 25-year-old Diandra Asbaty on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. Look at Oprah Winfrey's reception when she finally went on David Letterman's show. He all but genuflected, and she didn't even give him a free car.

Does Asbaty use the same dressing room as the men?
Seen any bowlers lately? They don't need dressing rooms.

NASCAR just signed a $270 million deal with ABC-ESPN to televise most of the season-ending demolition derbies starting in 2007. What does that mean for golf?
It might mean that, when the PGA Tour negotiates its TV contracts next year, Mike Tirico, Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo won't have to whisper on weekends anymore.

Any fallout from the "Bamberger Helper" incident?
I didn't sense much of a public outcry after a writer from a national magazine precipitated Wie's disqualification from a tournament. Most golf fans I talked to were more amazed that a writer would actually leave the press tent and set foot on a course. Must have been between meals.

Did technology affect golf in 2005?
A tired theme, in our opinion. You can't legislate against progress. The big story in bowling, besides Asbaty, is the new scented ball. You can now collect the 7-10 split with an amaretto ball. In tennis, it was the introduction of a magnetic racket, which instantly returns to its original shape after you hit the ball and which doesn't smell like amaretto. Yet.

So, you're really not worried about emerging technology?
I worry about technology when I call my bank two blocks away to find out whether a check has cleared and the person who picks up the phone is in New Delhi.

Any suggestions for last-minute stocking stuffers?
Absolutely. Sharper Image has a RadarGolf gizmo with 12 balls that cannot be lost because they contain tiny microchips. It sells for only $349.95. When I asked a salesman whether those balls will go as far as a regular ball, he asked how far I usually hit a regular ball. I told him, and he said, "Would you instead consider spending $349.95 on a lesson?"

On a serious note: Was it all about dimples this year?
Not for golf's first family. Steve and Krista Nicklaus lost a son in a tragic drowning accident. In Jack and Barbara Nicklaus' Christmas card, there are pictures of all of their grandchildren with an insert: "Jake. In our hearts forever."

Bob Verdi is a senior writer for Golf World magazine