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Picking winners in pro golf nearly impossible

In the pool in which some acquaintances and I attempt to pick the weekly winners on the PGA Tour, I have Geoff Ogilvy to win the Tour Championship this weekend, a choice I made before the season began.

From a quick start in January until a couple of weeks ago, when he finished second in the Deutsche Bank Championship, Ogilvy looked like a certain loser for me. He hadn't been awful but he hadn't been himself. And then there he is in the hunt.

Predicting winners in pro golf is like chasing butterflies in a high wind. In 41 tournaments thus far, there have been 36 winners. As Ogilvy himself said, "Golf's a mystery to me."

You never know from day to day what's coming out of the bag. Ogilvy gets up one morning and his game's back. Paul Goydos shoots a 59 and promptly fades way back into the scenery. Anthony Kim opens the 2009 Masters with a 75, then makes 11 birdies in the second round to shoot 65. In the 1978 Masters, Gary Player went into the final round trailing by seven and, as if touched by magic, he shot 64 and won by a shot. It's nuts but that's the way it is.

I've talked to a number of tour players about this and come up with no answer, no explanation for how you change from one day to the next, because there probably isn't one.

Weather can make things more difficult, of course. Tee times matter because the greens change as the day goes along. Pin placements are in there. Those things tend to even out through the field, though.

Golf is one of the most complex games on earth and keeping a grip on its various aspects for very long is impossible. People like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and a few others have come closer than others because they were blessed with heavenly talent, a willingness to work and the heart of a lion but their record shows far more losses than wins because they can't shoot 65 or 66 every day.

There are 30 players in the Tour Championship this weekend in Atlanta.

There are some "favorites," of course, like Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, but any of the 30 could win, if the right stuff comes out of the bag on the right days.