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|If you know golf, you'll know who will win the FIFA World Cup. ()|
In this, the final of a three-part series that uses golf to predict who will win the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, we will find which nation will walk away with the cherished World Cup trophy.
This three-part series has proven once and for all that the easiest way to predict winners in soccer's biggest matches is to examine the golf scene of a nation. This prediction has followed the same format as the World Cup, with eight groups first fighting it out, with only 16 nations advancing to final, single-elimination tournament.
Of course, the draws for the finals may be different, but we did our best. Here are the final results as our final 16 nations battle it out to see who will advance to the semifinals and beyond.
Nations advancing to the next round: Germany, Costa Rica, England, Sweden, Argentina, Netherlands, Mexico, Portugal, U.S., Italy, Brazil, Australia, France, Korea Republic, Spain, Ukraine.
As the host country, Germany has a great advantage on the pitch. As a golf nation, Deutschland has some advantages, as well. A growth spurt that started in the 1990s saw 70 percent more courses go up in Germany, and the country boasts more than 500 courses now.
Mexico is another nation that advances easily under this format. Cabo San Lucas is fast becoming one of the premium golf venues in the United States. Still, the increasing push toward privatization may mean Mexico will struggle to get to the finals.
"A few years ago, all of Cabo's famed courses were public. They were expensive resort courses - almost all with green fees of $250 U.S. and up - but public nonetheless," wrote TravelGolf.com writer Chris Baldwin. "Now, there's a private Tom Fazio (Querencia). El Dorado - another popular Nicklaus Signature that was owned by Grupo Questro - closed to be remolded and reopened as a private course.
Nations advancing to the Quarterfinals: Germany, Costa Rica, England, Argentina, Mexico, U.S., Brazil, Australia.
The final eight sees two major upsets. Costa Rica advances with its current push to bring quality golf to travelers. High-profile designers like Ron Garl, Ted Robinson, George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones Jr., have all tried their hand at molding the Costa Rican golf scene, to great success.
Australia joins the final four, as well, based on the remarkable play of its golfers. While Greg Norman helped set the standard for Aussie golfers, a new breed has seen great success on the PGA Tour and throughout the world. Stuart Appleby, Geoff Ogilvy, Rod Pampling and Adam Scott are just a few of the Australian men to light up scoreboards around the globe, while Karrie Webb's 2006 comeback includes a major title and runner-up spot at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Nations advancing to the Quarterfinals: Germany, Costa Rica, England, U.S., Australia.
Things aren't two tough to judge as the semifinals roll around. Germany takes on England and despite a strong golf background, there's no way they can get by historical significance that England brings to the table.
On the other side, the United States cruises by Costa Rica, with just too much power from its all-star group of players. In the end, this sets up the ultimate World Cup final (as predicted by golf) -- England vs. United States.
The United States is nobody's pushover when it comes to golf. Impressive, world-famous golf cities like Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach, and golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson give the Yanks a cache of golf that's nearly impossible to beat..
For U.S., fans, unfortunately, England is the only nation that can match up. By using its United Kingdom roots to gain an advantage, England has the birthplace of golf in Scotland, St. Andrews, as well as an impressive golf scene in Ireland to bolster its attack. Players from from Henry Cotton to Luke Donald to Colin Montgomerie make England an impossible soccer-golf force.
Go with England on the pitch and on the links. While the United States will advance far beyond expectations due to its fantastic golf, England is the only nation to combine soccer and golf to perfection. Look for England to bank its second World Cup championship.
June 12, 2006
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
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