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 our all-new live Readers' Confidential or in the comments section below.
PETTERSSON EARNS FIFTH CAREER PGA TOUR WIN
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Carl Pettersson was second in Hawaii and Houston and has now won the RBC Heritage in a rout, though a lot of big names sat out this week. He's won five times on Tour and has career earnings of nearly $18 million. Is he a guy who could contend in a major this year, and if so, which one?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Possibly, but he doesn't have a strong track record in the majors. He might have a strong enough fairways-and-greens game to contend in a U.S. Open or a PGA.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He's just another very-good-but-not-great player. If his putter is hot, he could definitely win the U.S. Open. If he misses the cut, no one will notice.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The PGA seems to produce an eye-opening winner every now and then. If Shaun Micheel and Rich Beem can win a major, why not Pettersson?
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I could see Carl squeezing a major onto his resume somewhere. He looks comfortable in the heat.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: He's a good frontrunner, for sure. I didn't see him losing his cool today, but Colt Knost, Kevin Stadler, Billy Mayfair and Matt Bettencourt don't exactly strike the fear of God into you when you see them climbing the leaderboard. Maybe Zach Johnson, who made a run, but Pettersson was on cruise control.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He's a very good ballstriker who gets into contention when he starts holing putts with that long putter. A major? Probably not, but you can never rule anybody out. How many other guys have five career wins?
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: On any given week, a ton of guys could get hot and contend on almost any golf course, including Carl, Sean O'Hair, Brian Gay and many other similar players. But for Pettersson to win a major in 2012, he'd need a lot of other players to bring their B+ games instead of their A games. I don't see it happening.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Five Tour victories is a heck of a lot. He could win any week, anywhere.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: With five wins, you can't say he would be a fluke major winner. Maybe his best shot would be this year's PGA Championship, which will be held at another windswept track in South Carolina -- the Ocean Course.
Mick Rouse, editorial assistant, SI Golf Group: I can't picture Pettersson claiming a major this year. I know all it takes is to get hot at the right moment, but he's never won more than once in the same year on the PGA Tour. That's telling to me.
Wei: With all due respect to Pettersson, unless he has a really, really hot week, I don't think he's winning a major. But if I had to pick one? The U.S. Open. He's a fantastic putter. One of the only guys who uses the long putter and consistently finishes in the top 25 in putting.
Tell us what you think in the all-new readers' live Confidential or in the comments section below: Could Pettersson contend in a major this year? Which one?
Hanger: The final group at Hilton Head featured Pettersson and Colt Knost, a couple of relaxed-fit-sized players, as Gary Van Sickle put it in his Saturday night story for Golf.com. (As Pettersson put on the Heritage plaid jacket, he channeled Chris Farley and said: "Fat guy in a little coat.") As a whole, Tour players are far fitter and more athletic than ever, but not all the bellies are flat. Do big guys like Pettersson and Knost hurt golf's image by bringing up the old "are golfers really athletes" question, or do they broaden its appeal by showing that you don't have to be a physical specimen to excel?
Herre: I think being overweight is a handicap, and the big guys would be better players if they shaped up.
Godich: I think fans just want to see good golf shots. It would help if they had nicknames, a la Tim (Lumpy) Herron.
Herre: Herron was/is embarrassed by his physique, and you could make a case that his body has held him back.
Lipsey: They certainly stand out big-time on a Tour now filled with slim jims.
Godich: Some of those slim jims should spend less time in the gym and more time on the putting green. Petterrson was awfully impressive with the broomstick.
Van Sickle: Good point. The most putts Carl had in a round was 27 the first day.
Ritter: Early in the afternoon, when the broadcast cut from Pettersson to Knost and then back to Pettersson, my fiancée turned to me and said, in all seriousness, "Is this a professional golf tournament?" I'm not sure the big guys bring in a new audience, but it doesn't help the whole "golfers are athletes" argument.
Van Sickle: I think it's better for golf to have some normal humans win tournaments instead of indistinguishable robo-swingers. Fans can relate to a non-svelte guy. Especially if he's buying the beers.
Hanger: I agree that these guys bring everyman appeal to the Tour and the game. I also think Jim's right, though -- now more than ever, fitness is a big part of competing in professional golf.
Van Sickle: Just because you're heavy doesn't mean you're not strong.
Wei: Pettersson may be strong, but if he's in a major in serious heat, he's probably going to lose more steam than, say, Gary Woodland.
Dusek: Carl and Colt are both really good guys, and as someone who used to make his bathroom scale wince, I'm the last person to throw stones, but neither player helps the argument that golfers are athletes. My wife's reaction to seeing them on TV Sunday evening was, "Who are the fat guys?" Golf is still one of the few sports I can think of where heavy people can, and often do, compete well against slimmer, trimmer folks. Curling, anyone?
Hack: They're probably not the best advertisement for the Tour in this era of hyper fitness, but the golf ball knows neither age nor waist size.
Shipnuck: It doesn't help. They might as well be smoking and carrying a brandy. But I'm sure the average American can identify with these guys, which is a good thing.
Herre: Several players still smoke on the course, but you seldom see smoking on TV. Wonder why?
Wei: Most of them have switched to dip.
Van Sickle: Pettersson dropped 30 pounds and had his worst year ever, so he put the weight back on and said, never again. Shades of Roger Maltbie.
Dusek: Craig Stadler had the same problem. He lost weight and his game fell apart. Needless to say, he quickly found what he'd lost.
Hanger: These guys also show that athletes come in all shapes and sizes. Look at NFL linemen and some of the pitchers out there. You can be a great athlete without being in tip-top shape.
Rouse: True. You can be a big guy (or gal) and still be a great athlete. Look at power lifters. But the thing is, they pretty much are in tip-top shape, even if their body shapes make you think differently. Is Pettersson one of those athletes? Ehhh...
Tell us what you think in the all-new readers' live Confidential or in the comments section below: Is the big guys' success good or bad for the Tour?