MIKE DAVIS TAKES REIGNS OF USGA
Morfit: Speaking of star-building, the USGA named Mike Davis as its seventh executive director in 116 years. (Okay, so it's not exactly a revolving-door job.) What does this mean, specifically in regards to what we'll see at the U.S. Open, where Davis has done his best work as senior director of Rules and Competitions?
Shipnuck: Davis will be an excellent boss because he's a people person and universally respected, and he truly loves the game. But I'm sad to see him leave his old job. His setups vastly improved the U.S. Open.
Bamberger: A great hire. First of all, a very decent person whom people respect. He surely feels that golf should be fun and challenging and accessible, and if he can instill his golf values on the revolving door of USGA presidents, it will be fantastic for the game.
Van Sickle: I'm not sure there will be much change in the USGA. Certainly Davis has distinguished himself already and proven that he understands the game and tournament golf. The right man for the job.
Herre: It'll be interesting to see how long Davis sticks with setting up the U.S. Open course, even though he says it's his favorite task. It's not like you blow in there a week before the Open and decide where to cut the holes. A lot of the job is scouting and recruiting years in advance of venue selection. Then once a course is chosen, you have to check its condition on a routine basis. Will Davis have time for all of that?
IS THIS THE END OF THE HILTON HEAD TOUR STOP?
Morfit: In other news, it looks like this could be the last iteration of the Tour stop at Hilton Head, unless a title sponsor comes to the rescue. Lots of short to medium-length hitters praised Hilton Head. Is this another case of a beloved, charming little Tour stop biting the dust, or is the PGA Tour schedule simply overdue to be truncated?
Spearman: I know the players love going there and playing. Would be a great shame to lose that tournament.
Bamberger: I will be very surprised if this turns out to be the final year for Hilton Head. The tournament is crucial to selling real estate there. Somebody stepped up in San Diego, and somebody will here, too. Golf on the water is always something you can sell.
Herre: Losing Hilton Head would be a tragedy, and it would be due solely to economics. If the Tour was interested in truncating its season, it could lop off any one of a dozen lesser events.
Van Sickle: This is the result of the new era of big purses and TV-revenue driven golf. The tour might have more potential sponsors if it cost $3-$5 million to put on a tournament instead of $7-$9 million. I'd like to see the WGC-Match Play move to Hilton Head, as some tour players talked about last week. It would fit in nicely the week after the Masters because the top players would already be around. I'm not sure that will happen, but Harbour Town is a great shot-making test. It would be a shame to lose it.
DOES CRENSHAW-COORE DESERVE OLYMPIC COURSE DESIGN JOB?
Morfit: Pinehurst No. 2 reopened last week following a year-long renovation by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, with no rough and more strategic options, and supposedly a return to the original intent of Donald Ross. Are Crenshaw and Coore the best in the business, and should they be given the job of doing the course in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics?
Bamberger: The beauty of C&C is that they only want the job if the piece of land is good. They say no routinely.
Evans: The 2016 Olympics should be given to a Brazil architect or someone who has built courses in the country. I'm sure that won't happen, but the decision shouldn't come exclusively from people at the PGA Tour.
Spearman: It should go to Nicklaus and Annika. Having said that, Coore and Crenshaw are the best.v Herre: Golf architecture is so subjective. Crenshaw-Coore have designed some fine courses, but so has Tom Doak, among others. And, frankly, the actual design work will probably be only part of the hiring criteria.
Van Sickle: Golf course architecture is in the eye of the beholder, and all golfers, including me, are sure we're design experts. Never played a Crenshaw/Coore course I didn't like. Not sure who should design the Olympic course. Not sure I even care.
EXPECTATIONS FOR TIGER AND PHIL AT DORAL
Morfit: Final question for today: What do you expect out of Tiger and Phil this week?
Bamberger: Each will play 72 holes.
Spearman: To make the cut ... oh yeah, there isn't one. Well at least one of them should be in contention. I'd pick TW over Phil.
Lipsey: I'm expecting more of the same blah, but I'm hoping to see fireworks and red numbers.
Herre: I'd like to be surprised by them, but I have no expectations.
Hack: I expect Phil to finish top 10. He can smell Augusta from here. As for Tiger, I haven't a clue.
Evans: Tiger and Phil will both finish in the middle of the pack. Tiger is going to learn the hard way that he can't get into tournament shape on the range at Isleworth. And Phil can't wait to get to Augusta.
Morfit: I'm sensing Tiger-and-Phil fatigue. If their slumps continue, who else would move the needle at Doral? I'd say Villegas, but the guy can't break an egg at the moment.
Herre: Jhonny Vegas!
Hack Quiros. Alvaro Quiros.