Every week of the 2011 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
WATSON'S WIN, PHIL'S CLOSE CALL, TIGER'S HO-HUM START
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: The Farmers Insurance Open was promoted as the Tiger & Phil Show, but come Sunday the role of Woods was shared by two understudies long-knocker Bubba Watson and the rookie sensation from Venezuela, Jhonattan "Johnny" Vegas. Watson birdied the last for his second PGA Tour victory, denying runner-up Mickelson his fourth triumph at Torrey Pines. Anybody feel cheated by this result? Or are we learning to love the post-Tiger landscape?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: All in all, I'd say it was a much, much better show this year than it was last year, when Ben Crane won despite muffing a short putt on 17. It came down to power golf, as it does on the South, and Watson birdied all four par 5s, while Mickelson birdied only three of the four. That was the difference. Or that and the fact that Phil's eagle putt on 13 decided to come back out of the hole.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I loved it! Jhonny Vegas has been a revelation. I just wish he could keep his ball dry a little better. And SIGOLF+ will have a very revealing story on Bubba in this week's special Equipment Issue.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: What more could you want in a golf tourney? Star power, exciting youngsters, a nail-biting finish, plus the enduring psychodrama that is Tiger. This week was a blast from start to finish.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: If this is the future, lay it on me. New faces and old in good weather on a U.S. Open course? It's all good.
Morfit: Speaking of revelations, the big one for me this week was that Phil really wants it again. He's really working at it, and feeling well enough to work at it, and it's paying off much earlier than we've seen in recent years. Good for him.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I don't feel cheated at all. Sweet leaderboard, California coastline, HDTV I couldn't get enough. What a cast of characters, too. Tiger? He had no magic this week. Not a dollop. Makes you wonder how quickly he can find it for Augusta.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It's a great example of what golf will do without Tiger and Phil some day. Vegas shows you can create a new star in two weeks or less.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: A star du jour, for sure. A star for the long haul? Looks promising, but only time will tell.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I don't feel cheated at all. That was fun to watch, right down to Bones's tending the flag for Phil's last approach shot. A great mix of names on the leader board. And a lot of quality golf shots.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Win or lose, watching Mickelson doink that tee shot and then have the flag tended from the fairway was classic Phil. Bubba's clutch birdie putt and emotional TV interview afterward were pretty good too. About all we could ask for.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Bubba Watson smashed his way around Torrey Pines and then made a terrific up-and-down for his second win. A rookie battled to the very end and almost won in consecutive weeks. And Phil nearly holed out for eagle with Bones tending the pin. Hard to feel cheated about that finish.
Hack: Smashed is definitely the word. How about Bubba's drive on 13? He jumped out of his spikes to hit that one. And he kept burying those par savers on the back nine. Kinda reminded me of someone else.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Hard-core golf fans had to love it. An entertaining Sunday with three likeable characters at the top, and Bubba's emotional post-round interview was the perfect capper. Still, with Tiger out of it early, I'm interested to see how the TV ratings turn out.
Godich: Well, it's not like he was ignored. Even as far back as he was and after the ridiculously long basketball game, CBS saw fit to show him with its third golf shot of the telecast.
Morfit: I went out to watch a bit of Tiger today just in time to see his classic no-handed follow-through after he fanned his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole. I was really surprised he didn't do better this week.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Cheated? No way! Maybe not the same ratings that Phil/Tiger would have generated, but as a golf geek, I thought it was awesome. I couldn't help but root for Vegas. He's just a charming, great guy, and it doesn't hurt that he has an inspiring story. He is the real deal. Too bad about his shot on No. 18, but it took some guts for him to go for it, which I liked. It's still hard for me to fathom how Bubba makes his way around the course with that swing and moving the ball so much. But he hit all the shots down the stretch for the big W, so kudos.
Morfit: And while we're crediting Vegas for going for it on 18, let's give credit to D.A. Points for having a go with a fairway metal. Nice to see him salvage par and a fifth-place finish despite his splash-down.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: When the golf is this good who cares who wins? Tiger and Phil have raised the level of play on Tour. It may happen this year or in 10 years, but the game will eventually pass them by.
Dusek: There was plenty of great golf to be seen without Mr. Woods around. Bubba and Vegas crushing drives and exchanging birdies on the back nine; Mickelson horseshoeing an eagle-putt, uphill, on the 13th; and Phil asking caddie Jim MacKay to tend the flag on the 18th. It was a really fun weekend.