THE MECHANIC'S MAINTENANCE
Walker: The Mechanic, Miguel Angel Jimenez, continues to defy age, winning the European Tour's Hong Kong Open at 48. He celebrated as usual with a cigar and a glass of Rioja. Jimenez and Kenny Perry belie the idea that improved fitness is the key to a long career. So what is the key to longevity on the PGA Tour?
Bamberger: I don't agree with the premise. Perry is strong, in the manner of a bull, and Jimenez is wildly limber -- don't even look at his X-rated stretching.
Godich: No doubt the key is the Mechanic's pre-round stretching routine.
Wei: Well, clearly, wine and cigars are crucial, and sweet stretching exercises.
Dusek: A great iron game and just enough length off the tee to make sure you can still compete on lengthened, modern golf courses. If you have those two things, like Perry had and Jimenez has, winning is always possible. You just need a hot week against a semi-good field.
Herre: You have to stay healthy, for one. But most important, you have to really love the game. Being a Tour pro sounds like a dream job to most civilians, but it's a life lived on the road, with numbing repetition.
Wei: Yes, it's like Groundhog Day.
Godich: And with the kind of money they're playing for, how hungry are guys going to be as they get into their 40s?
Van Sickle: It helps if older players can still move the ball a ways off the tee, but even that is optional. What isn't optional is making all the putts from eight-feet-and-in like a 20-something. Hale Irwin enjoyed the best putting of his career from age 40 and on, and that's why he blew away the senior victory record.
Hanger: I think we'll see the improved fitness of today's players pay off in the years to come. There may be a time when 48-year-old tour winners are routine. Jimenez seems to thrive because he's so relaxed out there, which is something a lot of guys lose as they get older and more jittery on the greens.
Marksbury: I totally agree. There is a lot to be said for being at peace in life. Jimenez enjoys himself no matter what. There's no better way to play golf.
Wei: It doesn't seem like Jimenez is concerned with what will happen if he doesn't make the clutch five-footer to win. It's just golf, and his life will go on with or without another victory.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What's the key to longevity on the PGA Tour?
Walker: We had a Michael Campbell sighting at the Hong Kong Open. The 2005 U.S. Open champ was co-leader after 54 holes before finishing tied for eighth. It was his second top-10 in his last four events after spending years in the wilderness. (Between March 2006 and October 2010, Campbell fell 1,315 spots in the world rankings.) What causes players to "lose it" like Campbell or David Duval? And once it's gone, can they ever get it back?
Godich: I don't know, but if anyone has the answer, Tiger Woods is eager to hear it.
Herre: Golf's eternal question. What causes a Campbell or a Duval to lose it? What causes you to lose it? Golf is a mystery, and often maddening.
Hanger: I don't know the specifics of what went wrong with Campbell, but we all know as golfers how fleeting success can be. It's the same thing all golfers struggle with - one minute you can't miss, the next minute you can't do a damn thing right - just on a more extreme scale.
Dusek: Guys can "lose it" for tons of reasons. They get taken out of their routine because of the new opportunities that winning presents; they get a divorce or go through other personal issues; they undergo a swing change in the hopes of getting even better. Once you lose it, you can never become the player you once were, but that doesn't mean you can't compete and win again. Case in point: Tiger.
Van Sickle: Every player has a story. Ralph Guldahl was never the same after agreeing to write an instruction story, which forced him to think about what he did with his swing. His brain exploded and his game vanished. A number of guys tried to add length off the tee and vanished. I'd say the putting stroke inside eight feet is a career-ender, too.
Godich: I am fascinated by the guys who win a big event and then overhaul their swings, change equipment, or whatever. Exhibit One: 2002 Players champion Craig Perks.
Van Sickle: Perks was a fascinating example. He knew his swing wasn't tour-quality, and he was tired of trying to live off his short game. He took the Players win as a window to improve, but he was never able to get the results he wanted.
Marksbury: It seems like the lapse always starts with a sudden change in confidence, which then leads to a search for a cure and unnecessary swing changes. In essence, a snowball effect that should never have started in the first place. It's tough to come back from all that.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What causes players to "lose it"?
PRESSURE ON THE R&A
Walker: The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has replaced Augusta National as golf's most famous anachronism. While Augusta National admitted women members this year, the R&A counts no women among its 2,400 or so members, a policy criticized this week by the UK's minister for sports. Will public pressure force the R&A to allow women members, or will they muddle through the criticism with a stiff upper lip (and a stiff cocktail)?
Van Sickle: The R&A will eventually have to cave. It's such an easy issue to solve that it's not worth the crapstorm it's going to have to endure. I doubt they make it through 2013 without agreeing to a change.
Wei: It's almost 2013. Get on with it. They might as well face it now rather than deal with a PR nightmare.
Godich: It'll happen sooner or later, but with 2,400 male members, how many women would they have to add without it looking like a token gesture?
Van Sickle: It will only take one to get the media to move on to another topic.
Dusek: The fact that it hasn't happened yet means that it will be a token gesture no matter how many women are admitted. If the R&A had felt compelled by itself to make the change, it already would've happened.
Herre: The R&A will capitulate, just like ANGC, and the PGA in 1961, and the Tour, USGA and LPGA in 1990. Too bad golf is always decades behind the curve.
Hanger: Eventually, yes, they'll have women members. No organization can fight this fight for very long in today's world, especially not one that claims to be focused on golf's best interests and growing the game.
Bamberger: Yes because the R&A is so public it can't afford to stay all male, as Muirfield will forever.