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Tour Confidential: How would the PGA Tour have handled Donald Sterling? Plus, U.S. Ryder Cup picks and Donald Trump

Donald Sterling
AP Photo
Donald Sterlng and girlfriend V. Stiviano attend a Clippers game in October 2013.

Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. The NBA took a strong stance against racism when it banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after TMZ published recordings of Sterling saying he didn't want his girlfriend to bring African Americans to Clippers games. The PGA Tour has had many chances to make a strong statement against racially insensitive comments -- Sergio Garcia's racial joke about Tiger Woods after last year's Players Championship, Steve Williams' comments about Woods at the 2011 HSBC Champions, Steve Elkington's tweets -- but Tour officials have chosen not to make their censure, if any, public. Why not?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The Tour is politically spineless. It is without a soul. It bows to money above all and takes a stand on nothing. How about the gutless way for years the Tour allowed the Masters to be considered, in essence, a Tour event when in fact Augusta National did not meet the Tour's own requirements regarding membership policies for clubs that host events? The Tour's drug policy is rooted in cynicism, in perception, not a real desire to see the sport be clean. The Tour addresses race issues, to use an old phrase, with benign neglect. What has that ever accomplished?

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Golf.com (@eamonlynch): The culture of transparency at PGA Tour HQ is on a level with Putin's Kremlin. The Tour's secrecy about disciplinary proceedings -- enforced with equal vigor on everything from slow play to cheating to drug use -- has nothing to do with the privacy of the persons concerned, but rather presenting a sanitized product to corporate partners and fans alike. This is why Vijay Singh's lawsuit alleging arbitrary and inconsistent treatment so worries the defenders of the dream in Ponte Vedra. Nothing would give Tim Finchem more agita than having to make public the Tour's record of disciplining players. The Tour is sorely ill-equipped to deal with a public controversy when it comes. And it will.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Discussing the penalty requires talking about the original offense and therefore additional blows to the image. Silence seems like a better option.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): A generous explanation might be that players and caddies are independent contractors, allowing the Tour to maintain a certain distance and deniability from those opinions, unlike the NBA/Sterling case, which involved a franchise owner. Less generously, you could say that golf has never exactly stood boldly on the front lines in the fight against discrimination. On the contrary, many of its most venerated courses and institutions have made it either their formal policies, or their accepted practice, to keep very specific segments of the population out.

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): Who knows? Best guess is that the PGA Tour believes a cloak of secrecy protects their brand, but in reality, as other leagues become more open with violations and punishments, the Tour steadily appears weaker and behind the times. Not a great image for a game that's steadily shrinking.

Joe Passov, senior editor, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): First of all, the PGA Tour is notorious for keeping any controversies at bay and any disciplinary actions under wraps. That said, the golf examples we've cited involve players and caddies, which is somewhat different in scope than our NBA example, where a team owner, that is to say, someone in power, who represents the league, made the offensive comments. I'm having a little trouble defining the distinction, but that's how I see it.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): The Tour is obsessed with the notion that its players are nothing but swell fellows; therefore all discipline must be kept in house to maintain the illusion. But in the absence of public censure the players are emboldened to say insensitive things. It's a broken policy.

2. J.B. Holmes won the Wells Fargo Championship, his first win since his 2011 brain surgery. Holmes is another intriguing potential U.S. Ryder Cupper with his length and his winning experience at Valhalla in 2008. Right now, these nine players would qualify for the U.S. team: Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Harris English, Jason Dufner and Phil Mickelson. If you’re Tom Watson, who would be your three captain’s picks.

VAN SICKLE: I'm going to assume Tiger won't be ready to play. I'll go with the next three guys on points list, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson, but I'd keep an eye on Holmes and a few others. The points list is going to change drastically because the next three majors are worth double.

PASSOV: Tiger Woods remains at the top of the list. He's still number one in the world, and he's still the MAN until someone takes it away from him. Zach Johnson is next. I like his killer instinct, his experience, his ability to close, and his ability to make putts. Third, I'll go with Jim Furyk. The guy just keeps playing well. Not great, but well. I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow, but tonight, those are my three picks.

SHIPNUCK: Zach, Keegan, Willie Mac.

BAMBERGER: If he's healthy, Snedeker. Ryder Cup captains should always pick putters. Zach Johnson, too. And along those same lines, Jim Furyk.

RITTER: If he's healthy, I'd take Tiger (and so would Watson) as a political move if nothing else. What if you don't pick him and end up getting beat? You'd never hear the end of it. The next two spots are more fun. Holmes is appealing because his power can be paired with anyone and he played on a winning team in '08. I'd want guys in peak form, and right now Holmes is there. And I can't believe Zach Johnson toppled out of the top nine, but he'd be my final pick, and I might even slot him into the final singles match on Sunday.

SENS: Zach Johnson because he's nails in match play. Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler because I like the tweaks they've made in their games of late, and because they both seem really fired up about the event.

LYNCH: Given the number of likely rookies, I'd go for anyone who has played a Cup before and who isn't currently on the Champions Tour, which is already overrepresented with the captain and both vice captains.

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