Atlanta David Toms' premonition was correct, and it eventually cost him.
Coming off a year in which he won his first major championship and qualified for his first Ryder Cup team, Toms was playing in the Sony Open when he had to wait as the group in front of him teed off on the 18th hole at Waialae Country Club.
"See this kid?" Toms said, nodding toward a baby-faced rookie taking a powerful practice swing on the tee. "Watch him this year. He's going to be good."
That player was Jonathan Byrd.
The hunch Toms had in January proved correct last week in the Buick Challenge when Byrd closed with a 63 for his first PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Toms.
At least Toms saw it coming.
It should be a lesson for other perennial stars on the PGA Tour. They can no longer assume they will qualify for the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, play in the Tour Championship, or be able to book reservations at Kapalua for winners-only Mercedes Championships.
There are no guarantees in golf.
Byrd was the 17th player to win for the first time on the PGA Tour this year, shattering the record of 14 first-time winners in 1991.
And don't get the idea these guys are winning tournaments with weak fields that are held the same week as majors or World Golf Championships.
Craig Perks won The Players Championship against the strongest field in golf.
Former Kansas University golfer Matt Gogel won at Pebble Beach. Kevin Sutherland and Craig Parry won World Golf Championships. Bob Burns won at Disney World with none other than Tiger Woods close behind.
Byrd won against a field that had 19 of the top 30 players on the money list.
"There is nothing surprising about any of them," said Chris DiMarco, one of those first-time winners two years ago. "To you guys, they are not household names."
Some of the household names might soon be forgotten.
The Tour Championship starts Thursday at East Lake Golf Club for the top 30 players on the money list. Missing are 14 players who were in the field last year.
"You can count about eight guys who you know are going to be here every year," Jeff Sluman said as he stood on the soggy practice range at East Lake. "Five years ago, it was closer to 15 guys."
David Duval, who faced off-course issues throughout the year, did not qualify for the first time since his rookie season in 1995. He is 78th on the money list, one spot behind Mike Weir, the defending champion of the Tour Championship.
Tom Lehman is not playing for the first time since 1993. At No. 51 in the world, he'll have to play well early next year to avoid missing the Masters.
Hal Sutton won in 1998, the first time the Tour Championship was held at East Lake. He's not here, either. Sutton is one of seven Americans who made the Ryder Cup team a year ago, but wasn't good enough to finish in the top 30 on the money list this year.
"Getting into the top 30 used to be no big deal for a 'top player.' Now, I think it's going to get harder and harder," said Davis Love III, who secured his spot in the Tour Championship only two weeks ago. He is 24th on the money list, his lowest spot in nine years.
As for the Ryder Cup?
"You're going to see a bunch of new faces," Love said.
The current Ryder Cup standings for the 2004 matches include the usual suspects Woods, Toms, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk. It also has Rich Beem, Chris Riley and Jerry Kelly.
The list will change over the next two years, but don't be surprised if players like Riley, Byrd, Charles Howell III or Pat Perez are at Oakland Hills or if Sutton has to select from among Love, Duval and Lehman for his two captain's picks.
That's what the PGA Tour has been saying all along these guys are good.
With two tournaments left, there have already been 37 winners this year, up five from this time a year ago.
"No one really pays attention to the fact that there's 130 players in the field this week, and it very well could be that there's 100 people who have the ability to win it," Duval said halfway through the Buick Challenge.
"You're having guys who are really clicking on various weeks. They're not making any mistakes. And what that means is you can't, either. You've got to make everything. Because if you don't, you're in trouble."