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

Jason Dufner
Robert Beck / SI
Jason Dufner could be a popular choice to win the PGA Championship in two weeks.

LYTHAM A WORTHY HOST?
Godich: After being defenseless for three days, Royal Lytham finally showed its teeth on Sunday. What were your impressions of the course in the rota that our anonymous pro called the stepchild of British Open venues? And would you like to see the tournament go back there?

Herre: The Open will return to Lytham, which is a terrific course. I think the Anonymous Pro doesn't like the place because he once got a crappy hotel room there.

Van Sickle: I like a course where the greens have so little break, players can't tell if it's moving two inches right or two inches left. That's the definition of subtlety, and it drives the best players in the world nuts. It just shows you how superior some of these old designs are compared to the buried elephant mounds that Nicklaus and Dye foist on the public. It's a very good test, just a bit dull looking. Nothing wrong with that. Can anyone say Pinehurst?

Morfit: Els and Scott did so well in part because the greens are so flat here. Ricky Roberts came here three weeks ago and got so excited to see the place again that he called Els on the spot. He knew Ernie would be able to give everything a run without fear of the ball zooming five feet by the hole.

Lipsey: I say ditch it. It's a nice course, but let's have some true links, real seaside stuff with twists and turns and big swales and the rest. No way this is one of the greatest links they have to offer.

Shipnuck: It was boring, defensive golf, but that's not Lytham's fault, it's the R&A's. Equipment has rendered these old links, with their fast fairways, totally obsolete. Just like the USGA's failures turned Olympic into a boring slog. Augusta National and Bethpage and Oakmont are probably the only major venues where driver must be hit, and it's the club that demands the most skill and helps identify the best player. To have guys hitting 6-irons off the tee is an incomplete examination.

Garrity: Visually, Royal Lytham is a dud. It only looks good from a blimp. But it's a terrific test of golf, and I'd hate to see it dropped from the rota. I'd put it and Royal St. George's in the once-a-decade category.

Shipnuck: To protect Lytham, the R&A resorted to a bunch of hokey pin placements, and that ridiculous, unplayable rough, which negates shotmaking. Links courses are supposed to be wide-open canvases that encourage shotmaking and different angles of attack, not tight, penal, claustrophobic courses that force every competitor to play from the same spot.

Lipsey: Except for a few instances (Tiger's pot bunker adventure, for example), watching this Open was like watching Bay Hill or the Honda.

Dusek: I would love to see the course get another Open because the weather this year made it too docile for the first three days. I don't want to see one train wreck after another, but it didn't feel like a proper British Open, and that has more to do with the weather than the course.

Shipnuck: Just to hammer the point home, the speed of the fairways made Lytham play about 6,400 yards, maybe less. To actually force the modern golfer to have a few proper three-shot par-5s and hit mid- to long-irons into a handful of par-4s, a course needs to be 8,500 yards, maybe longer. I'm completely serious. The USGA and R&A have failed the game, and it is becoming increasingly obvious as one major championship venue after another forces a bastardized kind of pitch-and-putt golf.

Wei: I loved it, and it got rave reviews from the players, too. Sure, there are a lot of bunkers, but what I loved was that every bunker had a purpose, and if you hit it in one, you were penalized. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing Open course, but it produces worthy champions, starting with Bobby Jones in '26. In the 11 Opens held here, the winners have all been ranked No. 1 in the world at some point or inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. How many venues can you say that about?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should the British Open return to Royal Lytham and St. Annes?

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE PGA
Godich: Finally, time to look into your crystal ball. In the last 16 majors, we've had 16 different champions. Look ahead to next month's PGA Championship at Kiawah and tell me which of those 16 players will end the run of non-repeat winners. And give me the name of the player most likely to extend the streak to 17.

Herre: Good question. Anyone notice how Bubba Watson played at Lytham? Everyone said he had no shot, but he finished 23rd. I like how he's trending. As for a first-timer, I'll go with The Duf. He had it going at Lytham until being derailed by some unfortunate circumstances on Saturday.

Hanger: I'm starting to feel about predictions the way Garrity does, especially after reading his story of the crystal balls at Blackpool. Smart money is on Karlsson at the PGA.

Reiterman: Zach Johnson is your 2012 PGA champion.

Garrity: Dang, I was going to take Johnson. I'm finally giving up on Robert Karlsson, so I need a new man-for-all-majors. For the next first-time winner, give me Nick Watney.

Dusek: I love the way Graeme McDowell is playing right now, and if we get a howler of a week in South Carolina, I think he'd feel right at home. As for another breakthrough winner, I'll take Matt Kuchar.

Ritter: I agree with Dave. McDowell is getting himself into contention in majors again, and Kiawah will probably be a links-like test. For a breakthrough candidate, I'll take Fowler.

Gorant: Davis Love.

Shipnuck: I'm starting to lose faith in G-Mac after back-to-back shaky Sundays when he could've bagged his second major, but he's a brawler and I think he'll be incredibly focused at the PGA. Also, he actually plays better when it's windy, which it will be at the Ocean Course. For a first-timer I'll take The Duf. He's putting together a nice resume' in the majors, and his brand of ball-control will be key on such a penal track.

Lipsey: Tiger's the man who'll take it to 17, if it goes there. Dustin Johnson is another possibility, because he might get juiced about playing in his home state. If it's one of the 16 prior winners, I'll take Webb. He's going to punch his WGHOF early-bird special ticket.

Rouse: I could see Keegan Bradley breaking the streak and winning again, or Martin Kaymer. To keep it going? Hunter Mahan.

Wei: Zach Johnson or Brandt Snedeker, two quality guys who usually play well in the wind.

Morfit: I agree with Garrity's point that predicting majors is pointless. Now, as for dreaming about the major winner, Van Sickle came very, very close when he had his vision about Scott. As soon as scientists make a few adjustments to his sleep cycle, we'll have the greatest golf breakthrough since the backward putter.

Van Sickle: I'll take Jason Dufner, because why the hell not?

Morfit: I think I still have time to make a bet before my flight leaves.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who's most likely to end the run of new winners? Who's most likely to continue the trend and win his first career major?

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