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AUTHOR : CHARLIE EPPS

author-charlie eppsKnown as "The Golf Doctor," Charlie Epps has been one of Houston's most respected PGA professionals for 30 years. He is the Director of Golf at Redstone Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.

Epps teaches two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and second-year Tour player Bobby Gates. Listen to Epps 9-10 a.m. Saturday mornings on Yahoo! Sports Radio on 1560 AM in Houston, channel 127 pm Sirius satellite and 242 XM.

He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Predictions for the 2010 Season

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 February 2010.

We finished 2009 with quite a few surprises in the game of golf. We had four major winners that nobody really expected. But still, in my opinion, that was good for golf. I did predict that Michelle Wie would win her first tournament, which she did. I also predicted she'd be the LPGA Rookie of the Year, but she came up a little short on that one.

This year, I predict she'll win three tournaments, including one major. It'll probably be the U.S. Open. This is Michelle's year to really break through and become the champion player we all expected her to become. She'll do it this year.

On the other side, we were all disappointed that Tiger Woods showed us the dark side of life. It's clearly hard for him to recover, but you can never underestimate the man. The players out on tour are very surprised and disappointed at all of his escapades, and nobody is really sure what harm he has done to the sport we all love.

Regardless, the game will move on. History has shown us—whether it was Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan or Nicklaus and Palmer—the game always has grown after great players left.

What troubles me most is that I can't imagine what junior golfers are thinking right now. They must realize that we're all human, and therefore fallible. And as long as you admit your transgressions, you can come back.

From Richard Nixon to Kobe Bryant and Andy Pettitte...we have learned that there is life after big mistakes. So, will Tiger win again? Yes, of course he will. Will we all forgive him? Sure, but will his family? I don't know. I can't answer that question.

The game will recover in time, and it always will be fun to play the game. Will the pros play for as much money in the long term? Probably not. Tiger's absence surely will hurt tournament purses.

But Tiger's not gone forever. In fact, I think he'll come back in March for the Bay Hill tournament—to get ready for Augusta. The U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach this year, and the British Open is at St. Andrews. Tiger has great memories of winning important tournaments on both. So he has to pick himself up off the mat and get back to business.

Until he does, though, Phil Mickelson is going to pick up the pieces and gain professionally and in the eyes of the public. Phil has a family life that makes everyone proud, and he's always been the Golden Boy.

I still see a major push from the international professionals, too. The European Tour is going downhill, so those players will be playing more and more in our country, which I think is a good thing.

It's a Ryder Cup year, so the Americans are going to have to step forward to defend their 2008 title. Guys like Lucas Glover, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and, of course, Phil are going to have to come up big and get it done. I think Corey Pavin will be another great U.S. captain along the lines of Paul Azinger. And even though the Ryder Cup is being played on foreign soil, I predict a U.S. victory.

I'm going to be on Tour for 25 weeks this season with my friend and student, two-time major winner Angel Cabrera. So stay tuned for more inside information from life on the Tour.

January 2010 – On the Brighter Side, Let's Talk About the LPGA

I know everyone in golf is talking about something else right now, but I want to back up a minute and explain how much fun I had at the LPGA Tour Championship at the Houstonian Golf & Country Club in late November.

We need to do everything we can to get the LPGA back to Houston. I think it was a wonderful week, in spite of the weather. The Houstonian Golf and Country Club did a marvelous job under great pressure to get the event finished. The grounds crew did a phenomenal job.

Even without a title sponsor, tournament director Becky Newell did a great job putting it all together. Most of all, the women who played all did a marvelous job, staying patient and sticking to their games.

It was great having Michelle Wie out there, even though she was injured. It must have been so fun for the young girls and boys in attendance to have the chance to watch her play before she withdrew with an ankle injury. Having Mexico's Lorena Ochoa in Houston also was really special. The Hispanics came out to support her, and she is quite a presence.

It was also fun to watch the Asians, too. They don't hurt the LPGA; they help the LPGA. I think it would be neat to one day have the Solheim Cup played in Houston. I would be great to see women from all over the world play against the U.S. right here in Houston.

The ladies have taken their product to the next level, and we have to get behind them. There are thousands of girls across the U.S. and worldwide who should have the opportunity to pursue their goals of playing professional golf.

I think the LPGA is going to turn a corner with the new commissioner. We need to do everything we can in the fourth-largest city to support the LPGA and women's sports in general. If you know a title sponsor, please give us a call.

It's hard to start a tourney on Thursday and not get to play again till Sunday, which was the case for most of the field. But the ladies all stuck around and were courteous. I never heard any complaining or whining. And once they got on the course to play, the quality of play was outstanding.

The 65 Anna Nordqvist shot in the final round is as good a round of golf at the Houstonian in poor weather conditions as you'll see. I should know—I've tried to play in similar conditions, and didn't fare nearly as well.

Now, I know the topic of the day is Tiger Woods, and it's truly unfortunate with what has happened...to see an icon self-destruct in front of us. But we're all human and going to make mistakes. I have all the confidence in the world that Tiger Woods will bounce back from this horrible situation.

As Andy Pettitte taught us all, you admit your mistakes and move on. Tiger has admitted to his mistakes. Hopefully he learns from them and still becomes the all-time major winner.

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