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PGA Tour Confidential: Graeme McDowell wins RBC Heritage

Graeme McDowell
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images
Graeme McDowell earned his first PGA Tour title since the 2010 U.S. Open.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. Before his playoff win over Webb Simpson at Harbour Town on Sunday, Graeme McDowell hadn't won an official PGA Tour since the 2010 U.S. Open. Why doesn't he win more?

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: G-Mac doesn't have the length to overpower courses and his ballstriking can be streaky. He can win on a lot of PGA Tour courses, but not all of them. Augusta National, for example, would be a reach for him.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: As I alluded to the day before the tournament, G-Mac has had a lot to sort out since winning his major -- new house, impending wedding, new biz venture -- and I think now that those other things are settling into place he has some wins coming. Also, it's just impossible to keep up the pace he had going in 2010. Can't go anywhere but down after that season.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, The easy answer is it's really, really hard to win on the PGA Tour. G-Mac had such an incredible year in 2010 -- winning the U.S. Open, holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup and beating Tiger at his own event -- that he was bound to have a dry spell. Plus, he doesn't have the firepower to dominate a course, so he's going to live and die with putter more than some of the other guys in the top 20.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Has has rung up a few other wins, they just happened to be either outside the U.S. or at Tiger's unofficial event in December. I wonder if the pressure and attention from being the best player in the world, as he was in '10, rattled the laid-back McDowell just a bit. Plus, he made a club switch at the start of 2011, just like Rory McIlroy did this year. (We've established that this can cause an adjustment period, right?) It's surprising he went three years without a win here, but I don't expect it to take nearly that long for his next one.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It just shows how hard it is to win on the PGA Tour. For years, Tiger spoiled a lot of guys' weeks. Now with the fields so deep, all it takes is one player getting hot with the putter to take down the game's best.

Joe Passov, senior editor, travel, Golf Magazine I'm hardly a swing expert, but it seems to me that with his homemade swing, he winds up with some bad misses when he gets out of rhythm. He's a great grinder and sinks a bunch of clutch putts, and that puts him in contention a lot, especially on hard courses. When he's off, however, he's way off.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: His swing. I think it's too dependent on whatever biorhythm he is feeling that week. I'd advise him not to change a thing, or listen to people like me.

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Winning on Tour isn't as easy as Tiger's record over much of the last 15 years would suggest. McDowell does seem to play well on tough courses -- which is why he contended at the U.S. and British Opens last year -- and the Tour doesn't visit that many tough set-ups. Given how straight he hits his driver (see May's cover story in Golf Magazine), it wouldn't be a surprise to see McDowell contend at Merion this summer.

2. Adam Scott's Masters win -- and his charming performances in his post-Masters media appearances -- created a new star on the PGA Tour. What does the impending anchored-putting ban mean for Scott's future? And will Scott's victory change any minds at the USGA or R&A about moving forward with with the ban?

Godich: Scott's win will only embolden the USGA to push forward with the ban. And whatever happens, Scott will be fine. The monkey is off of his back. He'll play with renewed confidence, and he is such a good ballstriker that he will contend no matter what kind of flatstick he has to put in his hands.

Passov: Scott seems so well-liked by his peers and his class-act-in-defeat last year after the Open was so convincing, I would think he'd figure out a way to adapt if he's forced to change. I mean, he did win a slew of big-time events putting conventionally and I'm betting that now that he's banked his major, there will no longer be the intense pressure on him like there was before last week, so he can now relax a bit when he strokes the short stick. Of course, I played with him at New Zealand's Cape Kidnappers late in 2008 and was both shocked and amused at how awful his putting was, in the tournament and in our casual pro-am round. What a scary-great swing -- repeating it over and over -- and equally scary-bad on the greens.

Morfit: I doubt it'll have any effect. I think the issue has been decided and if anything his win will fortify the anti-anchorers.

Reiterman: As Scott said, give guys enough time to work with a piece of equipment and they'll do well with it. He's won plenty of events with a conventional-length putter. I can't imagine his win did anything to sway the USGA and R&A.

Ritter: Could be wrong, but I think Scott's current form is very close to being legal under the new rule. If it's a violation, I think he could set up with the broomstick a couple of inches off his chest rather than resting against it, and he'd be good to go. Either way, Scott will be fine, but nothing he can say or do will alter the USGA's current push to ban anchoring.

Lynch: If anything Scott's victory might only cement the ban on anchoring, which will probably be announced late next month and take effect in a couple of years. As for a ban's impact on his career, Scott was considered a mediocre putter with a short stick but he's actually not much better with the long wand. His stats in putting from inside 15 feet this season are terrible, even compared to his short putter years. It's hard to see him becoming a regular major winner with that weakness. But he's got a green jacket, confidence, a great attitude, an effortlessly polite disposition and is highly marketable. Shame he's ugly.

Bamberger: Scott's likability makes it harder to impose the ban. His performance with it makes it more necessary, if you don't want a nation of anchorers.

Van Sickle: The USGA, as far as I can tell, is an immovable object that has never listened to much of anyone, including in the late '90s and early 2000s when we were all saying the golf ball was going too far. If I'm Adam Scott, I'm busting my butt to try to win as many majors as I can before 2016 because after the ban goes into effect, I might be done winning majors. No long putter wants to admit that publicly but they all know it inside.

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