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

Tiger Woods, sixth hole, final round
Simon Bruty / SI
Tiger Woods failed to get this shot out of the bunker on the sixth hole en route to a round-killing triple bogey.

Wei: Word around The Open was that anchoring will be banned. I smell trouble for some players who haven't putted with a standard putter in years and whose careers have been revived by the long putter.

Hanger: I wish they wouldn't ban the putter or anchoring, but it's starting to sound like the R&A is going to tackle this. Hopefully they'll leave us amateurs out of it and only focus on serious players in serious competitions.

Herre: That's bifurcation. The R&A and USGA are not in favor of that.

Hanger: It is bifurcation, but that's what's happened with grooves, effectively. There's no rule against us hackers playing the "illegal" grooves until, what, 2024?

Dusek: They're not in favor of it, but that doesn't change the fact that it is clearly needed. Rounds played and participation numbers are not exactly surging. Why should the governing bodies make the game harder at the amateur level because professional players can take advantage of technology more effectively than weekend players?

Van Sickle: The R&A and USGA are steadfastly against bifurcated rules, even though we currently have them on grooves. If they allow anchored putting for ams, bifurcated rules are here to stay.

Lipsey: The governing bodies should be telling people to call Maxwell Smart and use any contraption he can conjure up. The game needs every round it can get. Ask any pro or golf course owner.

Dusek: I have a feeling that purists and traditionalists are going to have their way, and at some point in the next few years they will be banned. It will be the wrong decision, but I think they'll do it anyway.

Shipnuck: I'm starting to soften my stance on the long putters. Putting is inherently emasculating -- think of Arnie hunched over, pigeon-toed, elbows akimbo. Scott looks almost regal by comparison, standing tall to the ball.

Gorant: What did Hogan say? "There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground."

Rouse: My only issue is what would happen to victories by players who have already won with long/belly putters. Would they suddenly have an asterisk next to those wins? If the governing bodies were going to ban them, they should have done it a long time ago.

Gorant: Yes, a rule change would be equivalent to outright saying that those accomplishments are not equal.

Shipnuck: One some level, putting is just putting. Tour players use all kinds of weird grips and stances and putters -- why is one style so much more evil? I'm over it.

Godich: Good point, Alan. Might as well outlaw cross-handed putting while we're at it.

Gorant: Opponents like Tiger say that anchoring takes the art and skill out of putting. You're not "swinging the club."

Shipnuck: Not swinging the club? Then how does it move back and forth? Is it battery-operated?

Dusek: The real trouble here is that everything is anecdotal. We do not know, for a fact, that anchoring a putter to your body makes it easier to put the ball in the hole. I hope the governing bodies produce a long-term study that actually gives evidence one way or the other. Having taken this long to potentially make a change, the USGA and R&A may have done a pretty major disservice to young professionals, collegiate players and serious junior golfers who are already using belly and long putters … but may soon have to change.

Gorant: Anchoring certainly didn't seem to help Scott too much down the stretch.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will the R&A ban belly putters, or do you think they are here to stay?

Godich: Els was ever-gracious in his post-round comments, saying Scott would win a lot of majors. But Scott turned 32 on the Monday before the tournament, and you have to wonder how this collapse will affect him the next time he gets in the hunt at a major. What's your gut telling you? Will Scott win a major? Or in a half-dozen years will we talking about him the same way we talk about Lee Westwood?

Shipnuck: Westwood is a good comparison. Scott has similarly learned to raise his game for the majors, as this was his fourth top-10 in the last two years. But winning these things often comes down to pulling off one spectacular shot at the most critical time -- think Bubba at Augusta -- and so far these guys haven't shown the flair or fortitude to get it done. I think that's something you're born with, not something you can learn.

Van Sickle: Putting is the most important element of winning. Scott isn't a good putter, not even with the broomstick. For all the talk about how it changed his game, he ranked 143rd in putting last year. If he doesn't win a major, it'll be for the same reason that Westwood hasn't won one -- putting under pressure on the weekend.

Gorant: Are we assuming he'll be allowed to keep using the broomstick? If yes, then I think he has a great chance, which is different from saying he will.

Hanger: Good point on the putter. If they take away his long wand, I think he's screwed.

Dusek: In this day of parity, I think guys are only going to get so many chances to win major championships. Obviously this was a great one for Scott, so I worry that he may have burned the best one he's ever going to get. Maybe a major championship will fall into his lap the way this one did for Ernie, but I have a feeling that Adam Scott is not going to win one.

Herre: On some levels Westwood is an apt comparison. Great ball strikers, suspect short games. Sooner or later the short game is gonna get ya. However, odds are Scott will win his major because, as Els said, he's simply too talented not to. He'll be in contention many times in the future, so his odds are good. Yet I doubt he wins a bunch of them. Westwood has had many chances and has just been unlucky. Time may be running out on him.

Lipsey: Y.E. Yang, Paul Lawrie, Ben Curtis, et. al. Huge talent is obviously not a prerequisite for winning a major.

Shipnuck: Right, look at some of the jabronis who have won majors this century: Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton, Michael Freaking Campbell. Scott has way more game than any of these guys.

Hanger: And conversely, there are great players, like Monty, who never won one.

Rouse: If Scott stays healthy and hungry, there's no reason he can't win a major. Sometimes it just takes being in the right place at the right time.

Garrity: I'm guessing that Scott will not follow Monty or Westwood. I think he'll take the Phil Mickelson route. He'll eventually win one, and if he wins one, he'll win two or three.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will Scott win a major someday?

Godich: As aggressive as Els was in attacking off the tee at Royal Lytham, Tiger Woods was equally defensive -- off the tee and on the greens. Frankly, I was stunned by how far back Tiger left himself on many of the par-4s, especially when he needed to make a move on Sunday. Did Tiger outthink himself? How do you explain it?

Lipsey: The process is all about the process, and the process will yield the desired results. Just give the process time to process itself to fruition.

Gorant: It was good enough for 67s on Thursday and Friday. One more of those on Sunday and he wins.

Herre: I thought he had a good game plan, one that has worked for him in the past. His problem, in my opinion, was failing to get close when he had opportunities from 150 yards and in. The triple from the pot bunker could've happened to anyone.

Van Sickle: The Anonymous Pro nailed it in our preview: Tiger is a C at best from inside 140 yards. Swing is too steep, divots too big -- even Azinger and the TV guys started talking about that.

Morfit: Agree. Tiger's just not as handy with the "scoring clubs" as he was in his prime, and whether or not he'll ever get that back is an open question. Steve Flesch had an insightful tweet, that Tiger's new swing de-lofts the club when he's got a wedge in his hands, thus the problems with distance control. I noticed that problem at Olympic, too. It's subtle, but he doesn't hit it tight that much anymore.

Dusek: I don't think Tiger Woods out-thought himself this week. I think he failed to execute his game plan well enough. Obviously it didn't work out for him on Sunday, but the biggest take-away for me is that he has a lot more faith in his iron game than he does in his driver.

Wei: I love that aggressive golf was rewarded in the end. Ernie hit driver on 16 every day, which is arguably not worth it when it comes to risk-reward. But his caddie said that Ernie teed off with an iron in '96 and pulled it into a pot bunker, which may have cost him the win, so this time he just decided to bomb it.

Shipnuck: The explanation is that he is swinging the driver with fear, especially if he has to move the ball right-to-left. "Gameplan" is code word for capitulation. Avoiding the pot bunkers was certainly paramount, but even as good as Woods is with his mid- and long-irons, he can't be spotting the rest of the field 50-70 yards on so many par-4s.

Godich: Right. And to hear him talk (and we did, time and again), how many times was he "one yard" from stuffing an approach shot? At the third hole on Saturday, that "one yard" was a good 10 paces short of the green. And if he thought the approach at the sixth that led to the triple on Sunday was a yard from perfect...

Hanger: But the thing is, he did spot them those yards, and it worked until the disastrous triple. If he makes par there, he would have been in perfect position to make a move down the stretch, and maybe then he would have pulled out the driver when he really needed the distance.

Lipsey: This isn't hand grenades or horseshoes. Tiger's gameplan, like Alan said, was capitulation. He didn't have what it took to get the job done. He might win the next 12 majors, but for now, he's got majoritis.

Hanger: Don't disagree. I'm just saying that capitulation damn near worked.

Godich: He was already four back when he made the triple, so tough to say it was working. I don't care who you are, you're asking for a lot of good fortune when you're hitting shots from 200 or more yards on a links course.

Hanger: Fair enough, but that's still just a 7-iron for these guys.

Shipnuck: I wrote Saturday night, when Woods was six under, that he felt he was close to the winning number, and it turned out to be seven under. So playing small-ball early in the round made a certain amount of sense. But after the triple he had so much ground to make up, and he was still wary of hitting driver. I can't believe he didn't pull it at 13; he could have driven the green with one great swing. He was five under at that point but laid up off the tee and made a brutal bogey. Game over.

Hanger: Yeah, once he made that triple, he should've gone for broke on every hole. Nothing to lose at that point.

Garrity: Tiger's Hoylake strategy worked well for five holes, but the triple-bogey on 6 blew that up. He needed birdies in bunches to make up the lost ground, but he couldn't make them from 200-plus yards in a gusty wind. The sad part is, he stopped hitting fairways coming in, even with the irons. No telling where he would have hit it with his driver.

Gorant: We'll learn a lot about where he is with his driver at Bridgestone. You have to hit it there, and there are lots of problems if you can't hit it straight.

Lipsey: That's a laid-back money grab, so he might be so relaxed that he'll shred the fairways. The PGA at Kiawah, especially if the gales blow, that could be a test.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Did Tiger out-think himself on Sunday? Were you surprised he didn't make a serious run at the leaders?

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