MONTY IN THE HALL
Walker: This is the first time we've convened since the announcement that Colin Montgomerie is the newest member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Make your case for or against Monty.
Herre: He belongs on his Ryder Cup record alone. And though he may not have won a major, he won plenty of tournaments, just not in the U.S. He was clearly one of the top European players of his era.
Dusek: Fred Couples getting into the Hall of Fame lowered the bar to a level where a lot of excellent, but not all-time great, players can be seriously considered. Monty was the dominant player in Europe for a long, long time, and one of the best ballstrikers of his generation. He was also one of the best Ryder Cup players in history. If you think Monty should be in, that's your case. But ZERO majors and ZERO wins in the United States are huge holes in his resume. I would not have voted for him.
Reiterman: He dominated a tour over a 12-year period, and he's also one of the best Ryder Cup players of all-time. Seems good enough for me.
Godich: I know Monty hasn't won a major, but even without it, he has accomplished more in the game than Fred Couples. Monty belongs.
Bamberger: He's a Hall of Famer for his press conferences alone. One of the great observers of the game and one of the 50 best European players ever.
Morfit: It's the WORLD Golf Hall of Fame. So even though we in the winner-take-all States have a hard time seeing his transcendence, or whatever it is that gets you elected, he crushed it on the Euro tour. If Aoki is already in, then how do you keep Monty out?
Hanger: He won a bunch of tournaments, was a Ryder Cup legend, and was an outsized figure in the game, both for his fans and for hecklers. Can you tell the story of golf in the last 20 years without Monty's career being part of the tale? No.
Wei: Monty deserves the nod. He dominated in Europe, clinching a record eight Order of Merit titles, including seven in a row from 1993 to 1999 . He's won 31 times on the European Tour, fourth on the all-time list, and he never lost a singles match at the Ryder Cup. He recorded a total of 23.5 points for the European team as the third all-time scorer, behind Nick Faldo (25) and Bernhard Langer (24). When you talk about the Ryder Cup and professional golf in the '90s and early 2000s, it's impossible not to mention Monty.
Van Sickle: Is there more to golf than winning majors? Larry Nelson won three majors and only just got into the Hall years after he became eligible. Andy North won two majors to Monty's zero. You could argue that Monty, with eight Order of Merit titles, was the best player in Europe for a decade. (Although Nick Faldo would debate that.)
Reiterman: I agree, Gary. While majors and PGA Tour wins are huge, it's not everything. Yeah, Monty didn't win in the U.S., but Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl. You're telling me he wasn't one of the 10 greatest QBs of all-time?
Van Sickle: I agree with that. Team sports are different. Was Monty one of the 12 best players in Europe in the last 50 years? Yes. In the end, is the Hall of Fame a hallowed hall for true superstars or just a tourist attraction that needs annual inductees for a tour-promoted TV show on Golf Channel? I think we know the answer.
Shipnuck: He's a fascinating case. Owning one tour for that long is remarkable, but he came up at exactly the right time, as the Seve-Faldo-Langer-Lyle-Woosnam generation was beginning to fade away. It's one thing to never win a major, but to never win anything in the U.S.? That's kinda crazy. I don't think he's a true Hall of Famer, but in this era of watered-down standards, he belongs.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Monty a Hall of Famer? Why or why not?
BEST OF TIMES?
Walker: The Golf Channel announced that the network had its second-highest viewership ever in 2012 after a record-breaking 2011, with top stars like Tiger and Phil Mickelson still playing at an elite level and a crop of appealing young players led by Rory McIlroy. From a competitive standpoint, how does the PGA Tour today compare with the best eras of the past?
Van Sickle: The hookup with NBC probably had something to do with that. I'd say the tour is about the same as it has ever been, with the same assortment of superstars, stars, really good players, good players and novelty acts. With golf enjoying its greatest exposure ever, on TV and the Internet, it should be able to promote its product better than ever to the finite audience that is interested in golf.
Herre: The current era compares favorably. Having a once-in-a-lifetime player, even if he is no longer in his prime, continues to drive interest. Plus, there are many more terrific international players.
Van Sickle: Good point, Jim. The tour is far more attractive as a product on the global stage now. And it's only going to keep growing in that direction.
Shipnuck: Stars drive the game, and it's hard to imagine we'll ever see a better decade than the '70s, when Jack was in his prime and regularly having major championship battles against Watson, Trevino, Miller, Weiskopf, et al. But no doubt the competition is deeper now, and it's a much more dynamic media environment. And Tiger remains maybe the most compelling figure in the history of the sport.
Godich: Plus, you couldn't have scripted a better second half of the season: Rory wins the PGA, Rory and Tiger playing together in the FedEx Cup, a scintillating Ryder Cup.
Van Sickle: I'd have to say golf's Glam Factor is near the top of its register right about now. There were only Tiger and Phil for more than a decade. Now there are three, and a couple on the cusp.
Dusek: Last season we saw a fast start from Phil, the emergence of Bubba as a Masters champ and folk hero, three wins from Tiger, and Rory's becoming a global force and the best player in the world. The icing on the cake was an amazing Ryder Cup. If we get more of that from star players, golf will be in great shape.
Hanger: It seems like a pretty unique time in that we have the best (or second-best) player of all time trying to hang in there and a clear heir apparent in Rory. That's going to be a fascinating dynamic for a few years to come.
Wei: It's a fascinating time for the game with the changing of the guard while the greats of the previous generation are also still competitive.
Bamberger: This period is too in flux to judge. You will always be drawn most to the era in which you were smitten.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: How does today's competition compare to past eras?