PGA Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy wins Deutsche Bank Championship
Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
RORY'S PRESENT AND FUTURE
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Who said the FedEx Cup was boring? Rory McIlroy, six shots back on the back nine of the third round, rallied to clip Louis Oosthuizen by a shot at the Deutsche Bank Championship. We were pretty hard on Rory during his summer slump. Now he followed up his win at the PGA Championship with another victory, all but wrapping up PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. What's your take on Rory now? Will this springboard him to becoming one of the all-time greats? Or is he just in the midst of a hot streak?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Nice win, but not exactly a classic finish. Rory is a big talent, and I love his attitude -- mature beyond his years. Still, I need to see more before putting him in the Hall of Fame.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He continues to mature, on and off the course. This was a transitional season for the young lad, and he's going to be POY. With his improved putting, the sky's the limit.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: I think it's unrealistic to expect Rory to be a week-in, week-out killer like Tiger, but is he the favorite to win POY for the next 10 years? Absolutely.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Rory looks like an all-time great to me. He won this week with his B-game and terrific putting. He's not just streaky.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I think he'll be one of the all-time greats, but talk's cheap. As Palmer said of Tiger years ago, when asked if he could reach 18 majors: "Yes, but let's not just hand it to him. He's got to do it."
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I think Rory's career arc was pointing toward all-time-great status even before the past month. If nothing else, I think we can safely say that we've moved away from the "Age of Parity" and squarely into the Rory Era.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I'm a huge believer in Rory, but it's impossible, and in some ways unfair, to keep wondering if a 23-year-old is the next Tiger or Jack. Is he amazingly talented? Without a doubt. Is he on pace to do some historically significant things? Obviously. But I don't think winning the Deutsche Bank a month after the PGA means it's time to ask about him being a potential all-time great.
Garrity: You're right about the comparisons being unfair, David, but let's get real -- the kid has five PGA Tour wins, including two majors, at the age of 23. Mickelson and Hogan didn't win their first majors until they were in their thirties.
Godich: And, lest we forget, he seems to be enjoying life. Remember when we were questioning whether he was focused enough? Guess we know the answer to that.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Yeah, Rory is on a hot streak. It's called his career. We're already into the Rory Era. He's a great fit for American target-style golf courses. And he's now your Player of the Year.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I've been bullish on Rory, so I'm going to stick with what I've said from day 1 -- he's ridiculously talented and no doubt will become one of the all-time greats.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Rory won Monday the way Tiger won many times: not at his best, but good enough. That in itself speaks to his dominance.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is this the dawn of the Rory Era, or is the 23-year-old just on a hot streak?
Reiterman: It's hard to imagine that last year McIlroy and Westwood were turning their noses up at the FedEx Cup. Now they're both residents of Florida, and McIlroy is on his way to becoming $10 million richer.
Van Sickle: The FedEx Cup is boring. The individual tournaments aren't, but the so-called playoffs are. Big difference.
Godich: I don't know about that, Gary. I like the tournament within the tournament, though I could do without the projections on how a bogey in the middle of the second round affects a player's FedEx standing.
Bamberger: It's not that the FedEx Cup is boring; it's that it makes no sense. It's not anyone's idea of a real playoff, not anyone I know.
Garrity: I, too, find the point system opaque. Funny thing, though. My 11-year-old grandson was watching this afternoon, and he immediately grasped that the green box with the number in it had to be 70 or less for a player to advance. Maybe we're old dogs balking at new tricks.
Wei: It does get somewhat interesting to golf geeks with the guys on the bubble in the final round.
Herre: As Shipnuck pointed out earlier in the week, some of the most compelling stories are at the bottom of the field during the playoffs. The Charley Hoffman storyline certainly added to Monday's show. Nice job by NBC.
Dusek: I listened to the tournament on XM while driving from Connecticut back into New York. All the players the hosts talked to knew their positions coming down the stretch -- Aaron Baddeley, Dicky Pride, Josh Teater -- but honestly, they had all season to collect points and avoid being on the top-70 bubble. It's too contrived for me.
Van Sickle: It would be more compelling if Charley Hoffman actually knew his putt on the 18th was to make or miss the playoffs. (Afterward, he said he had "no clue.") But with the points system so complex, that rarely, if ever, happens. NBC can try all they want, but they can't make me care whether Charley Hoffman ranks 69th or 71st going into the next week. There's no drama when the guy has no idea where he stands.
Herre: My only criticism of the playoffs is that guys can take a week off and not get hurt in the standings. This week, Sergio. Last week, The Duf. This week ...
Wei: The atmosphere here this week was the most relaxed it's been on Tour since March or April. I don't remember the last time the players, other than the half dozen or so trying to get a captain's pick, seemed this laid back. As Robert Garrigus said, "We're playing for $8 million, and there are 100 players in the field. It's pretty lax if you ask me." The guys here had already secured their cards, and the majority were just happy to still be playing. Even Chris Kirk, who played his way in, said he didn't feel too much pressure going into the week, and now at the BMW he can really free-wheel it.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Did McIlroy's win give you FedEx fever?
OOSTHUIZEN, ALL-AROUND SMOOTH
Godich: Louis Oosthuizen put on a show in the third round, turning in 29 and setting the golf world abuzz about a potential 59. Louis has a sweet swing and an equally smooth putting stroke. Which aspect of his game impresses you more?
Garrity: His sweet swing and his equally smooth putting stroke. And the fact that he can go really low when he's feeling it.
Herre: I think Louis has the sweetest swing on Tour. He was a thing of beauty on Sunday -- what wonderful rhythm. He was quicker on Monday, perhaps because of his injury.
Reiterman: Definitely the swing. He's like Geoff Ogilvy or Charl Schwartzel. When they win, it looks so easy, and you wonder why they don't nab at least two or three trophies a year.
Van Sickle: All of it. I like his easy-going manner, too. Like Ernie Els, nothing really seems to faze him. He just plays on. Rory has some of that, too. Louis seems unflappable. You've got to believe he's going to win a bunch of titles before he's done.
Bamberger: The putting stroke. You can get the ball close to the hole with all manner of swings. But a pure putting stroke is a pure putting stroke, whether you do it Crenshaw-style (long and flowing) or Tiger-like (shorter and blunter). There are guys who would give up their club contracts for that putting stroke.
Wei: His swing, which is quite possibly the most fundamentally sound in the world. It looks effortless but generates plenty of power.
Dusek: I'm most impressed with Oosthuizen's killer instinct … oh, wait. His relentless drive ... um, sorry. In all seriousness, his demeanor on the course is excellent, and his motion is breathtaking, but the game is not "Golf Swing."
Shipnuck: I love the swing but not his instincts as a closer. That bogey on the 71st hole was atrocious, as was his second into 18. He's so talented he'll contend pretty often, but he lacks Rory's desire, which is the difference-maker.
Herre: Have to agree with Alan. McIlroy hit some amateurish shots coming in, but Oosthuizen couldn't take advantage.
Ritter: To think, a little over two years ago, practically no one knew who Oosty was, and most of us media guys had to triple-check the spelling of his name every time we printed it. But now it's obvious his 2010 British Open win was no one-off. Heck, he almost won the Masters this year. That sweet swing is going to carry him to more wins before he's through.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: He could win 15 majors and I'd still be checking the spelling every time.
Ritter: It's spelled just the way it sounds!
Reiterman: Woosthizen? Oosthowen? Woosthazen?
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What most impresses you about Oosthuizen: the swing or the putting stroke?
WHICH SWING WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Godich: One of our colleagues has already weighed in, but I'll ask it anyway. You can have the swing of Rory or the swing of Louis for one round. Whose are you taking?
Herre: Oosthuizen's all day.
Reiterman: I'll take Rory's. To swing that hard and remain in perfect balance would be an awesome feeling.
Shipnuck: I'd be happy with either, but I'll take Rory, because it produces more wins.
Garrity: I'd take Oosthuizen's, but not for a reason you'd think. Louis pulls the trigger quickly, which I love. Rory freezes the clubhead for a few seconds before taking it back. Nothing wrong with that, really, but I think it's a precursor of tension. (Not that Rory strikes me as particularly tense. I'm just sayin'.)
Herre: John, did you time Oosthuizen's swing? Bet it's a perfect 3-1.
Garrity: I'll call John Novosel to find out, but I'm sure you're right. He's the personification of Tour Tempo.
Wei: I'll take Rory's because he's the ultimate driving machine. I fell in love with Rory's swing at first sight at Bethpage Black at the '09 U.S. Open.
Bamberger: Rory, for sure. Louis is technically perfect, like Vladmir Horowitz playing piano, but with far less art. Rory's golf is the most dynamic I've seen since Seve.
Morfit: I'd prefer to have Oosthuizen's swing but Rory's U.S. Open seats.
Van Sickle: I'd just flip a coin and be happier than a monkey at Banana Republic.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Pick a swing: Rory's or Oosty's.
TIGER'S STATE OF MIND
Godich: For the first time since the 2009 FedEx Cup playoffs, Tiger Woods put together four rounds in the 60s, but he still came up a couple of shots short. We all know that with Tiger, it's all about winning. So how does he walk away from this week? Is he satisfied that he's close? Or is he beating himself up over another missed opportunity?
Bamberger: No satisfaction at all. Nothing but bile in his mouth. He either wins or loses. Sort of close means nothing.
Dusek: I think his biggest takeaway from the Deutsche Bank should be that if Rory's playing really well, Tiger's only shot of beating him is to play lights out for four days straight. No let ups, no flubs, no loose mistakes. For the 2012 Tiger Woods, that's a tall order. Man do I hope we see their names next to each other on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Hanger: I think he's pretty satisfied. Rory is clearly the man right now, and Oosty went nuts Sunday. Except for those two, Woods was four clear of the field. No shame in that third place, even for Tiger.
Reiterman: The four majors are over, so anything after is just gravy. He's probably happy with the way he's hitting it, but all those missed putts from inside 15 feet have to be really getting on his nerves.
Herre: I'm guessing he's happy with his week. (At this point, there are only four events that he really cares about.) Woods hit a ton of good shots on Monday but couldn't make the critical putts. Overall, though, he played well and I could easily see him winning the playoffs.
Godich: You said it, Jim: He couldn't make the critical putts. And that has to be a concern.
Shipnuck: He better get used to this feeling: he played well, but not well enough to beat Rory.
Van Sickle: Third place doesn't suck for Tiger. He stayed in contention to the end. I'm not thrilled that he got away from his usual shotmaking and relied only on cut shots, but you can't argue with results. He just needed to hole three more putts.
Garrity: Tiger has to be heartened by his performance in Boston -- those final-round red numbers have been elusive -- but he can't feel good about finishing in Rory's shadow again. No one, I mean NO ONE, thinks that Tiger is No. 1 at the moment.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Tiger satisfied or disappointed by his week in Boston?
Godich: With stars on both sides playing so well, I don't know how anybody can't be excited about the Ryder Cup. Davis Love III will announce his four captain's picks on Tuesday morning. We all know Davis reads Confidential. Tell him which four players he should pick and why. (Update: See the captain's picks here.)
Herre: I think Snedeker would be a great addition simply because he ALWAYS makes putts. D.J. probably took himself out of consideration Monday; he hit the ball great but made nothing and closed with a 70 when he needed to win. That tells me, and probably Love, something.
Garrity: I don't see how you can play yourself out of the Ryder Cup by finishing top 5 in a big tournament. There will be 12 European opponents; they won't all be the best putter in the world.
Godich: Dustin was third last week, fourth this week. I don't know how you overlook that. It also shows he made his share of putts.
Hanger: Dustin Johnson, because he seems to be coming back into form and he's stupid long. Brandt Snedeker, because he's also playing well and he's first in Strokes Gained-Putting. Stricker, because he's been there a bunch, he putts the lights out, and he can help get Tiger into his happy place. Rickie Fowler, just because I think he's fun to watch.
Herre: D.J. may be the most gifted player on Tour, but in the Ryder Cup you have to have guys who can make putts -- nobody knows this better than Love, who was the D.J. of his era but had some rough showings in the Ryder Cup. The American side has routinely had the best ballstrikers. It's frustrating to see them outplay the Euros tee to green and then miss putts, which has (mostly) been the story of the last two decades of Ryder Cup play.
Dusek: Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney -- a sweet blend of power and putting. Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler played themselves out of the mix, and while Jim Furyk is a popular guy in the team room, Watney's recent win is more impressive than Furyk's near-wins.
Godich: I think Snedeker and D.J. played their way on over the past two weeks. Stricker is a lock. I have no idea what Love will do with the last spot.
Reiterman: Stricker (Putter), Snedeker (Putter), D.J. (Smash Ball), and throw a dart at the wall for Furyk, Watney, Mahan or Fowler.
Hanger: Come on Mark and Ryan, that tough fourth one is the one you have to pick! Who'd it be if you had to decide?
Godich: I'll take Mahan. Finishing ninth, winning twice, the chance for atonement has to be worth something.
Reiterman: I'd go Watney. Long hitter and seems to thrive whenever he's in contention. But Davis, if you're reading, just throw a dart; it's more fun that way.
Garrity: My dart hits Watney. Furyk still has lots of game, but I want more youngsters who can be on the team for a decade.
Ritter: Stricker's a no-brainer. I'd add Snedeker for the putter, D.J. for the driver, and Mahan for both his match-play prowess and the chip on his shoulder from Celtic Manor.
Godich: Good point, Jeff. It's going to kill Mahan if he doesn't get a spot. Then again, with two wins early in the season, he has nobody to blame but himself if he doesn't get picked.
Shipnuck: Dustin -- power, good form, jock mentality. Sneds -- great putter, playing at a very high level, fun personality who's easy to partner with. Stricker -- Tiger's man-servant. Watney - birdie machine who can overpower a big course, and he showed some Spaldings by winning when he had to.
Wei: It'll be a crime if Brandt Snedeker isn't a pick. He leads the Tour in Strokes Gained-Putting, he's fifth in birdie average, and he knew he had to play really well the last two weeks and finished second and sixth. Second is Stricker, a steady veteran and consistent putter who is Tiger's partner. Third is Furyk, another veteran, who is fifth on Tour in scoring average and can manage Phil. Fourth, toss a coin, but I'll go with Mahan for winning twice this year, including the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
Van Sickle: I've been pitching go-for-the-putters for years. So I take Stricker, Snedeker, Watney and Fowler. But it's so even, I don't think Love can go wrong with Mahan or D.J. or Furyk. At Wales, Love talked at length about how Fowler validated their belief in him. It's hard to see him not going with him again.
Bamberger: Dustin Johnson, because he's intimidating. Furyk, because he's a grown-up. Sticker, to play with Tiger. Snedeker, because he putts well when he needs to.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Make your four picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
WHO WINS THE PLAYOFFS?
Godich: We're halfway through the FedEx Cup, with the field cut to 70 players. Tell me who wins at Crooked Stick and East Lake, and who walks away with the $10 million bonus.
Herre: My guess is that Snedeker does not get picked for the U.S. team, which means he will win at the Stick. I'll stay with Woods to win it all.
Godich: But, but, but you just said Davis would be looking for putters, and nobody's rolling it better than Snedeker right now.
Shipnuck: Rory wins at East Lake and takes the Cup. One of the guys left off the Ryder Cup team wins at Crooked Stick.
Reiterman: Tiger gets the putts to drop and walks away with another $10 million.
Hanger: Tiger has two more top-3 finishes, without winning, and takes the Cup. (Is that mathematically possible? Even if it's not, that's my prediction.)
Dusek: Because absolutely no one is expecting it, even after a good showing at TPC Boston, I'll go with Phil Mickelson to win at Crooked Stick. The $10 million will go to Rory after he wins the Tour Championship.
Wei: Jeff Overton, the hometown boy, at Crooked Stick. Phil Mickelson at East Lake. Rory McIlroy walks away with the wheelbarrow.
Bamberger: Fed Ex winner will be Rory.
Van Sickle: Probably Charley Hoffman. That would be the most compelling story, or so I'm told.
Ritter: The best story? Hoffman wins Crooked Stick, cuts his hair, wins the Tour Championship and cashes $10 million. The most likely story? Tiger takes the Tour Championship and the FedEx payday.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who's your pick to win the FedEx Playoffs?