PGA Tour Confidential: Farmers Insurance Open

Ben Crane
Robert Beck/SI
Watson at the 2009 British Open. He spoke to a Kansas City TV station about the Tiger Woods scandal last week.

Van Sickle: Right. Will the players clamor for the Tour to consider taking steps toward disallowing the use of the Eye2s?

Gorant: Sounds like they're going to at least consider a local rule, although Ping has made noise that they won't sit idly by for that.

Bamberger: A local rule would be smart, and it would say to the rules makers and to the manufacturers that if you can't solve this, we'll do it ourselves.

Dusek: The PGA Tour shouldn't be sending any messages to the manufacturers. PGA Tour events are to equipment companies what the race track is to automakers. It's where they test new ideas and designs, see if the most discerning players like the products and then bring them to the masses. If the tour doesn't want equipment playing such a large roll in the game, create two sets of rules for the sport, but you can't blame equipment companies for the state we're in now.

Van Sickle: As Dusek said, the answer is so obvious. One set of equipment rules for professional golf, another (and much looser) set for amateurs, which would allow the companies to do what they've done so well over the last decade — innovate the hell out of golf equipment and help us play better.

Godich: Hey, the NFL may have an uncapped year coming up soon. How about a one-year moratorium on limits? Let the manufacturers legislate, build what they want. That might be fun.

Dusek: And we'll have peace in the Middle East, my kids will behave at the dinner table and Augusta National will go public.

Evans: Product development is the key to the growth of the golf industry and the viability of media franchises that are supported by these manufacturers. Amateurs want to play better golf, and they enjoy the game more when they play what the pros play. Rolling back the equipment on Tour is a marketer's nightmare and a sure way to stagnate growth in the business.

Bamberger: Well said, Farrell, but 8,000-yard courses will kill the game, too. I'd take my chances on going small for the elite players. The time has come.

Enough about the wedge, though. Phil was looking to pick up where he left off at the end of 2008. How do you all assess what he did this week?

Evans: Phil is rusty, but his swing at times looked real wide and tight like Butch likes his players. But I have a hard time believing he's going to be able to get up for a possible Tiger-less 2010. This wedge thing is a diversion for him — his mistress for a boring time in the game.

Morfit: Rusty, rusty, rusty, even if he said he did start preparing a week earlier than usual for this season. He sprayed it off the tee, and he even yipped a few with the putter. That said, I saw enough bright spots to expect him to three-peat at Riviera next week.

Gorant: He struggled. Even the days he put up good numbers he seemed to be fighting it. He flew in Butch for an emergency range session and it got worse. He didn't come roaring out in his bid to be No. 1, but he certainly gave us our money's worth in headlines this week.

Van Sickle: Phil played his usual golf, a combination of sensational and mistake-prone. He makes a lot of birdies and eagles, and he makes a lot of bogeys. Always has, always will. He struggles to be consistent, and the idea that he is going to run the tables at age 40 just because Tiger is out is wishful thinking. Phil will be Phil. He'll win three or four times, not six or eight like Tiger does. That said, it's still too early to judge the state of Phil's game. As you saw on TV, Torrey's greens can be maddening.

Dusek: We saw flashes of his brilliance — like a 280-yard 3-wood to six feet and converting the eagle putt at 13 Saturday — but too much inconsistency. You can't be the man if you're losing balls, going O.B. and making multiple double bogies.

Lipsey: Phil is like a hyper-erratic but ultimately very well run company — dramatic swings in share price, but after 20 years the net result will be terrific.

Shipnuck: I talked to many of Phil's intimates this week, and they all said in the weeks leading up to Torrey his swing was the best it's ever looked. His problem was he got in his own way, trying too hard and swinging too hard. That can happen in a heavily hyped season debut in your hometown, when you not only are expected to win but also to save the Tour. Expect Phil to be more mellow this week in LA, and a three-peat at Hogan's Alley is a definite possibility.

Bamberger: What did you all think of Tom Watson's critical comments about Tiger Woods in a Kansas City TV interview? He basically said that Tiger has to get his house in order, for his sake and for golf's sake. Tom's been down this road before, about McCord and about Tiger and his club-tossing and use of profanity. But were his comments inbounds or out-of-bounds? Do they reveal more about Watson than they do Woods?

Van Sickle: Watson simply told it like it is. Tiger has been surprisingly consistent and surprisingly effective in blowing off the minor criticism he's taken about his club-flipping and profanity. He doesn't take it seriously, apparently. Watson, and many, many others, do. And they should.

Evans: Tom Watson was out of bounds. That's a hell of a burden to put on any man, to be responsible for an entire industry? Tiger has to live with this mess for the rest of his life. His wife and kids have to carry this hurt and shame with them for the rest of their lives. Golf will go on. Watson should butt out and keep his moral platitudes to himself.

Herre: I don't think Watson was out of bounds. His comments on Tiger's personal issues were routine and basically supportive, plus we already know there are two schools of thought on Woods's swearing and club-throwing: Some feel it's unprofessional, others say it shows he cares.

Evans: Personally, I don't like a lot of things about Tiger, but I respect his right to be the way he wants to be. We get in a weird place when we start telling a grown man how to talk, how to live, how to respond to someone getting into his personal affairs. Unprofessional is not showing up and not doing your job when you're called to perform a specific task. Tiger is not guilty of this.

Hack: I didn't mind Watson's sentiment as much as the timing. Tiger has a lot more to worry about right now than F-bombs on the tee box.

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