PGA Tour Confidential: Farmers Insurance Open

Ben Crane
Robert Beck/SI
The Farmers Insurance Open was Ben Crane's third PGA Tour victory.

Every week of the 2010 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.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was a weird and wonderful tournament, and I found myself not missing ETW at all. I know cranes that are faster than Ben Crane, but he's not as slow as he was and he comes off like a good guy. I don't know him. Anybody who does, tell us something interesting about him. Anybody who doesn't, tell us your favorite whacky moment this week. Feherty's explanation about how two fingers means a 2-iron except when it means a 7-iron? I liked that. (I thought it was 2 fingers upside down for a 7-iron.)

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Rookie mistake by either Feherty or Sim's caddie. Sounded like the CBS guys were having a good time — they must have been happy to be back at work.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: The whole field was slow Sunday. The final group got around in 5 1/2 hours, and Crane joked in his press conference, "Did anyone notice that I was in a group waiting?" Cracked everyone up. Then he launched into a spot-on impression of his good-old-boy agent, complete with Southern accent. It was comedy hour at the Chuckle Shack.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Is Crane golf's most underrated player? He's on a very short list. It wasn't a pretty win, but I think he'll build on it. He'd be a great Ryder Cupper, driving the Euros crazy with his slow play and spirit-crushing par saves.

(Alan Shipnuck answers readers' questions every Friday in his weekly mailbag. Ask a question here.)

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Best line I heard was Feherty's saying that Sim, with a chance to tie, laid up three times on 18. Speaking of which, what's up with these guys laying up on par-5s? Last week it was Bubba Watson at the 14th. This week it's Sim. I wouldn't be so pissed if both of those guys weren't on my rotisserie team.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: What does Sim have to lose there? He's a rookie, can't do worse than top 5, hits it a mile. Just go for it, dude.

Morfit: I was out there and I thought Sim could have gone for it for sure. I didn't like the conservative play. "I had 224 meters to the front, and for me that's really stretching a 3-wood," he said. But then later, he admitted, "I think I could have got there, but it had to be all of it." So hit all of it, then.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: These guys want to win, but they also want to ensure that they make a good check. Chip-Becking is not unpopular or unwise when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line every week for a top-5 finish.

Godich: It's too early in the year to be worrying about that. The kid can hit it in the water and still make par. Plus, the way Crane was struggling, Sim might very well have won it outright with a birdie there.

Herre: Whatever happened to, You play to win the game?

Evans: A man's got bills to pay.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: All these kids with these perfect swings ... give me Ray Floyd and Lee Buck Trevino and I'll take my chances.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: These new guys are playing to establish themselves on Tour. It's not about the money; it's about the ranking that comes with the money. Fowler, for instance, made a key birdie on 18 to clinch a top 10, which guarantees him a spot this week and gets him up the money list before the crucial reshuffle. If I'm Sim and I'm exempt for a couple of years, I definitely go for it. But there's a lot at stake, more than just one win. It's about staying on the big tour with the big money and the big perks.

Godich: Don't buy it. The guy was shooting at pins all day. Then he gets to the 18th with a chance to at least force a playoff and he backs off?

Van Sickle: I agree with you, despite what I said. It was a curious choice. Maybe he was having swing issues at the finish and lost confidence that he could pull off the shot. Would love to ask him what he was thinking.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Coming off the 2009 season that Sim had on the Nationwide Tour, I'll give him a pass for NOT going for it on 18. He clearly knows how to win. Would anyone be surprised if he won this season?

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Winning on Tour is so different, even if it's all a head game. It's shocking that a long-hitting pro in the middle of the fairway on a cinch par five would lay up when he needed birdie to tie.

Shipnuck: Laying up on a par 5 in crunch time is an okay play — it won Zach Johnson a green jacket — but you damn well better make birdie. Take an untidy par and it hurts more than just your chances of winning; your manhood also gets called into question.

Gorant: By the way, seven Americans 30 or younger finished in the top 15 at Torrey. Eleven in the top 30.

Van Sickle: A bunch of young players off to good starts — Leishman, Prugh, Fowler, Imada and others. Good to see.

Godich: Looks like Snedeker is healthy again too.

Morfit: Alex Prugh is probably the best player almost no one is talking about, but after his near-miss at the Hope and 66 today (T5) maybe that'll change. Troy Merritt had another good tournament, just missed a top 10 by a stroke. Fowler beat him by two. And somehow Nick Watney snuck in there with a top 10. Didn't see the guy all week.

Lipsey: All the top foreign players, at least the Euros, were in the Middle East, which had another super strong field on the Euro tour.

Forecast
PGA Tour News
Trips
Travel & Courses
Lessons
Tips & Videos
The Shop
Equipment News & Reviews