PGA Tour Confidential: Els wins British Open after Scott collapses, Tiger fades

Adam Scott, 18th hole, final round
Simon Bruty / SI
Ernie Els won his second British Open and fourth career major title.

ERNIE DOES IT AGAIN
Godich: Sure, he had a lot help, but it would be unfair not to give Ernie Els his due. On a day when all of the other contenders were going backward, Els, six shots back at the turn, came home in four-under 32. I would argue that this tournament was as much about Ernie's fortitude as it was about Scott's collapse. What say ye? And what impressed you most about Ernie's play?

Herre: I'm happy for Els. He's been grinding all year. But this one fell into his lap.

Godich: Maybe so, but he didn't miss a shot on the back nine. A lot of guys, especially someone with multiple majors, would have packed it in. It fell into his lap, but only because he kept grinding.

Dusek: Jim, I totally agree that this championship fell into Ernie's lap, but I think the key is that he was there to catch it. In some ways it's very similar to the way Geoff Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Morfit: Well said about being there to catch it. That's the way a lot of majors are won, including Keegan's at the PGA last year. Dufner's late bogey train was very similar to Scott's. Amazing how fast things changed in the last hour today.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was also much like Stewart Cink at Turnberry, and G-Mac at at Pebble Beach.

Reiterman: For all the abuse he's taken about his putting, Ernie stepped up and slammed that putt into the hole. That's what impressed me.

Rouse: I was most impressed that Ernie was able to come back after some near misses this year and being left out of the Masters.

Ritter: Ernie may have backed into this one, but that final putt on 18 was all guts. Considering many folks, including the majority of this panel, more or less wrote him off after he gagged at the Transitions earlier this year, seeing him lift the jug really is a shocker. Good for him.

Gorant: He just hung around and then made a move when he needed to. He said the bogey at 9 pissed him off, and he got very aggressive after that, hitting driver, trying to make birdies. It worked.

Dusek: What impressed me most was Ernie's not giving up, either at Royal Lytham and St. Annes or over the past two or three years. All of us, myself included, are guilty of writing him off to some degree because of the shaky putting. But he looked damn sure that ball was going in on 18, and when it dropped I felt good for him.

Shipnuck: How about that bump-and-run between the bunkers on 16? That was Seve-esque. Els didn't convert the putt, but that's the best shot I saw anyone hit all week. Pure talent, plus wonderful imagination.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Ernie definitely won the tournament. Of course he had help, but he knew exactly what he needed to do as he stood over that 15-footer for birdie on 18. It was especially impressive as we've seen him miss quite a few putts in the past year from that range and shorter.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What impressed you most about Els's victory?

PENALTY OR NOT?
Godich: Cynics would suggest that Scott's collapse was payback from the golf gods for a favorable ruling he received next to the seventh green. Scott took a couple of practice swings, and after he walked onto the green to survey his shot, the ball rolled a couple of feet. The referee with the group ruled that Scott was not subject to a penalty because he wasn't near the ball when it moved. Based on your understanding of the rule, did the referee get it right?

Herre: I'm no expert, but he had not addressed the ball before it moved. He had only taken a couple of practice swing nearby. So I think no penalty was the correct call. (Regardless of what Azinger said.)

Dusek: I agree, Jim. Clearly nothing Adam Scott did directly resulted in the ball moving, so he shouldn't be penalized.

Shipnuck: The wind was a more a likely culprit. It didn't look like Scott caused the ball to move, and it would have been tragic to tag him with a questionable penalty and so thoroughly affect the outcome. In this case it was prudent to err on the side of the player.

Hanger: Erring on the side of the player -- now that's a standard I think officials should employ more often. No way to definitively pin that movement on Scott's actions, so logic says the decision was just.

Gorant: How many times did Azinger flip flop on rules callings today, including the taking-a-drop-out-of-the-bunker thing? Then he rips people on Twitter for questioning the ruling. He keeps it interesting, but he's a clown.

Wei: There's a lot of gray area here, and it depends on whether you want to give the player the benefit of the doubt, but I think the ref got it right. Scott hadn't addressed the ball and wasn't anywhere near it when it moved.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should Scott have been hit with a penalty, or did the official on the scene get it right?

LONG PUTTER WINS AGAIN
Godich: Another major, another champion using a long putter. Els won with a belly model. Scott should've won with his broomstick. Everyone has weighed in on what they think about long putters, but the question is this: Will golf's governing bodies make a rule change? Or are these things here to stay?

Herre: Sounds like some folks at the R&A think the "anchoring" aspect of the long putters makes them non-conforming, since that gives a player the ability to lean on the putter to steady himself on a windy day. But frankly, I think that ship has sailed.

Shipnuck: In chatting this week with the USGA's Mike Davis and a couple of R&A stuffed shirts, it sounds like they will not ban long putters but will outlaw anchoring the club to the body. So Scott, for example, could still use his broomstick but not press it against his chest; he'd have to change his style but not his wand.

Garrity: That would be an ingenious solution. Would it also frustrate Bernhard Langer's old method of holding the putter against his left forearm?

Reiterman: Young, athletic golfers using belly putters has never looked right to me. I hope they ban the belly.

Van Sickle: I'm not sure who's going to enforce that or decide if something's anchored. If it's touching your shirt or jacket, is it anchored? Can you tell from 20 feet away if a guy has it anchored or not? Am I going to have to keep an eye on a guy to see if he's cheating on every stroke? The USGA doesn't usually tell you how to play the game, except for the ban on sidesaddle putting. (By the way, what's really wrong with that?) At a time when players are leaving the game in droves, they shouldn't be banning a club that is making the game easier/more fun for average hacks. A ban would also be an admission that the USGA and R&A are 15 years behind everyone else, as usual.

Morfit: I thought it was interesting that Harrington said if someone invented the long putter and tried to get it approved now, there's no way it would make it.

Lipsey: Gary's right. Such a rule could create a huge interpretation problem. What happens when a guy twitches while putting and the handle hits his chest? Trying to compromise on this could be messy. Millions of everyday hackers could revolt. We'll have Occupy the USGA!

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