PGA Tour Confidential: Ryan Moore wins Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
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.
TOO LITTLE, TOO SOON
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Just one week after a thrilling conclusion to the Ryder Cup, the PGA Tour gave us Ryan Moore vs. Brendon De Jonge in what was essentially a match-play finish to the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Moore won the Vegas prize, but I was underwhelmed. Should the Tour simply take the week off after Ryder Cups?
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I still have a Ryder Cup hangover, and all I did was watch. Yes. We need time to deconstruct it.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Yeah, it was hard to care about Vegas after all the emotion of Medinah. But I loved waking up to St. Andrews.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: A week off would probably be wise, but the PGA Tour was probably eager to get back to it after the PGA of America's big week in the limelight.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: After the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup (or Presidents Cup), we need a collective time out. A let-down is inevitable. Unfortunately, with the PGA Tour's regular season starting in November in 2013, we won't get a breather next year either.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Ryan Moore says no, leave the schedule the way it is. He thought it was a thrilling finish.
Herre: Moore has been having a nice year. Good to see him finish one off.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Only 24 guys play in the Ryder Cup. These other players, many of whom have been off for weeks, need to make a living too.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Right. I say play on. And Moore's wife has a bun in the oven. I'm sure he's quite pleased he had a home game last week. Also, the Dunhill seemed to be great fun with all the celebrities and the classic links.
Van Sickle: The highlight of the week in golf was probably the dog that ran off with Paul Casey's ball. Incredibly, there was no video footage, only several still photos. It's fun to watch the Dunhill when they play the Old Course.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: The break would make sense, but with the (glaring) exception of golf editors, those with Ryder Cup hangovers already took the week off. Golf has turned into an "I Love Lucy" re-run -- it's always being played somewhere. For the non-elite pro, that's a good thing.
Dusek: Feh! The guys who played in Las Vegas had all season to "make a living."
Van Sickle: All season? A lot of them probably sat out at least three of the four FedEx Cup weeks and had no place to play. And they might not have gotten in the half-field at Akron, either. And if they weren't qualified for the PGA or British Open, they've hardly played at all the last three months.
Dusek: I get your point, and it's valid, but the audience for Fall Series events is so small that delaying it a week wouldn't diminish it. I've simply never bought into the whole marketing of the "Quest for the Card."
Van Sickle: I agree with that part, Dave. There is a small group of hard-core fans who love golf and would watch anybody play anywhere for anything. For a chunk of the audience, though, it's hard to get excited about watching a bunch of unfamiliar players. Which is often what the Fall Series is, and what Q-school always is.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: No question that the die-hards will watch, but the never-ending season devalues individual tournaments. Sometimes you need to take a break.
Dusek: Scarcity creates demand.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should the Tour take a week off following the Ryder Cup?
TIMBERLAKE IS OUT
Garrity: As one who fondly recalls the days when PGA Tour events were named for towns and celebrities, I'm saddened to hear that Justin Timberlake has been dropped as spokesmodel for the SHCO. The tournament chairman kicked the singer on his way out, suggesting that Timberlake was only there for them when cameras were present. Somebody showed a lack of class in Vegas. Was it Timberlake or the chairman?
Van Sickle: Gotta blame the chairman for squealing on J.T., if that's true. If Timberlake's name didn't fire up the public, maybe it had something to do with the tournament's promotions and marketing, which would be under the chairman's purview. What, he's going to blame himself for marketing the event poorly? Doubt it. I give Justin the benefit of the doubt here.
Dusek: The chairman. Even if Timberlake was only involved for PR reasons, what good comes of badmouthing the guy on the way out? Go ahead and badmouth Timberlake for lousy poetry all you like, but his star power gave the Las Vegas event a level of buzz it would have lacked otherwise.
Bamberger: That's his job, to smile for the cameras. Bad form, Mr. Chairman.
Hanger: I have no insight into what Timberlake did or didn't do in his role, but what did the hospital people expect? Timberlake wasn't going to volunteer four times a month, but he surely brought attention to the tourney and helped draw players and other celebrities to Vegas for the festivities. Seems short sighted to drop him. Maybe it was the poem that soured them on his cool factor.
Van Sickle: Personally, I'm disappointed Justin didn't sign up to be a Candy Striper.
Godich: That poem at the Ryder Cup was brutal. And talk about bad timing. The guy is hosting the Ryder Cup opening ceremony one week, booted from a Tour stop the next.
Shipnuck: Timberlake was the best thing to happen to that tournament in years. Maybe decades. I can't believe they let him get away.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: It struck me as ungrateful on the part of the tournament chairman. I was pretty surprised to see that quote.
Herre: Kind of like when George Lopez got the boot from the Hope. It's bad form by the tournament. They come off as ingrates.
Van Sickle: Yeah, Vegas was pretty lucky to still have a PGA Tour stop. Without Timberlake, that event might already be gone.
Walker: It's not fair to Timberlake. I believe he's involved with golf because he has real passion for the game. The guy was in The Social Network. He brought sexy back. I can't imagine that talking with Brandel Chamblee on Golf Central is something that helps his brand.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who showed the least amount of class: Timberlake or the chairman?
DALY ADDS 23 STROKES IN A DAY
Garrity: John Daly, close to securing his PGA Tour card for the first time in years, shot consecutive rounds of 63-86 in Vegas. Anyone care to speculate on how Daly spent the night between those two rounds?
Dusek: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Herre: I'm sure an old injury acted up.
Bamberger: Watching The Sound of Music.
Van Sickle: I'm pretty sure he watched a "Get Smart" marathon on cable.
Morfit: Getting fitted for left-handed clubs.
Dusek: Dance and the performing arts may have been a part of the evening in Las Vegas, but I doubt Julie Andrews was involved.
Godich: I'm thinking he went to Cirque du Soleil.
Shipnuck: All I can say is that 63-86 is the perfect summary of John Daly's career.
Hanger: I think he probably really did have an early night. Guy had a Tour card within reach, which would've been a big deal for him after all he's been through, and he just blew up.
Godich: And now he'll go back to complaining about not getting enough sponsors' exemptions.
Van Sickle: We know one thing he's not going to do: go back to Q-School. Once again, I can't believe tournaments still waste exemptions on this guy.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Why did it all go wrong for Daly on the weekend?
HOW FAR CAN GRACE GO?
Garrity: Sticking with the celebrity theme, I call your attention to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, won by South Africa's Branden Grace. I love the Dunhill pro-am because I don't recognize most of the European celebrities -- very cool -- but Grace, despite four wins this season, is equally unknown to most Americans. Is he a one-season wonder, or is Grace the next Ernie Els?
Van Sickle: Maybe he's the next Charl Schwartzel.
Bamberger: You can win once as a one-hit-wonder, but not four times.
Herre: Grace can play. He's just getting started. Reminds me of how Ernie Els set South Africa and Europe on fire when he began his pro career. We'll be hearing a lot about Grace in the coming years.
Godich: I don't think one-year wonders win four times in a season. Most impressive is that when he gets in the hunt, he closes the deal.
Morfit: Grace will emerge in the bigger events next year. You don't win that much in different conditions without serious game.
Dusek: I agree. Grace won back-to-back events early in the season and people (including yours truly) thought it was just a hot streak, but he's still winning. He needs to get used to the big stages, but winning becomes a habit. Is he the next Els? Ask me in two years.
Hanger: It would be great to see him play over here a little more next year. You don't win four times unless your game is for real. I'd say somewhere between Els and a one-hit wonder, if I had to try and predict the future.
Shipnuck: Four wins in one season can't be a fluke. But Els is a very high standard. Grace will be happy to wind up in the middle of that continuum.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Braden Grace a future star?
BLAME GAME: CAPTAIN OR CREW?
Garrity: Back to Vegas. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III, was conspicuously visible, finishing tied for 66th in the JTSHCO and accepting more than his share of the blame for his team's epic collapse at Medinah. Having had a week to reflect on it, who do you find more culpable, the captain or the crew?
Van Sickle: The crew. They inexplicably ceased making birdies on Sunday. If you can't win more than three singles matches, you don't deserve to win the Cup. Europe played great, the U.S. played poorly. The captain didn't hit any shots last time I checked.
Morfit: I blame the European players, the U.S. players, Love, Olazabal, Ben Crenshaw and Francis Ouimet, in that order.
Shipnuck: It all comes down to the team veterans: Phil, Furyk and Stricker lost the key matches. Davis put 'em in the right spots, they simply didn't perform.
Morfit: My takeaway from the Ryder Cup is that experience is overrated. Alas, because the captain is of a certain age and is most familiar with others his own age, experienced players will probably always get the captains' picks. I wonder what would've happened if Love had gone younger with captain's picks, maybe Fowler or Mahan or Bo Van Pelt in place of Furyk and Stricker. It was a terrifically entertaining contest just as it was, though.
Van Sickle: I think Cam's point is valid. We've seen it for years as captains pick their peers, remembering them in their primes, but they aren't quite the same players anymore. Ironic that Love was one of the guys who helped convince Corey Pavin to take a flyer on Fowler, then went with the old wars horses this time and passed over Rickie and Hunter.
Bamberger: Neither crew nor captain is to blame. Superior Euro play.
Hanger: It was the crew, no question. OK, maybe he should've played Keegan Bradley and/or Phil on Saturday night, but eight members of the U.S. side got beat on Sunday. No way to strategize your way out of that sort of collapse.
Dusek: If you had offered Davis Love a 10-6 lead going into the singles, he would have been thrilled. A week later, I still put it on a combination of great play by the European team and the inability of Furyk, Stricker and Webb Simpson to win critical matches down the stretch.
Godich: I'm telling you, if Steve Stricker executes that relatively simple chip at the 17th hole, the U.S. wins the Cup. In the end, it is all on the crew's shoulders. They've got to hit the shots. And even with the Euros' fast start on Sunday, the U.S. was in position to claim the Cup. It just shows what a pressure-cooker the Ryder Cup is.
Ritter: I'm sure Davis would like to do a few things over (benching Phil-Keegan Saturday afternoon, failing to euthanize the Tiger-Stricker pairing, leading off with Bubba on Sunday, etc.), but the blame goes to the players. Someone wrote it here last week, but it almost felt like the U.S. went to sleep Saturday night thinking they had already won. The U.S. just stopped making putts Sunday afternoon, and the Europeans played great.
Walker: Those are three pretty significant moves. When the captain's picks don't perform, the captain has to take some of the responsibility.
Herre: The crew. As the old saw goes, DL3 didn't hit a shot. I guess you could criticize him for picking Stricker and Furyk -- as was pointed out, experience can sometimes be a liability, not an asset. The young guys seem to be more apt to rise to the occasion. But that's a huge second-guess.
Godich: And yet if you'd known you were counting on Furyk and Stricker to pull off those shots on 17 and 18, most everyone would have been comfortable with that, no?
Morfit: That's still the most shocking part, that neither of those guys could salvage a halve.
Dusek: Stricker, yes. Furyk, no, which is why I thought Hunter Mahan would have been a wiser choice. I realize it's easy to say now, but I believe in Mahan's putter (and his two wins) more than I believe in Furyk's almost-wins.
Godich: Even though, save for a 61 in Hartford, Mahan hadn't done anything since before the Masters? The guy won twice in 2012 and still couldn't make the team on points. Twice! He was ice cold. I have no problem leaving Mahan off the team.
Dusek: I get that Mark, but when was the last time Furyk made a really big-time putt? The Tour Championship two years ago?
Godich: Furyk was the one wild card I had a problem with. But I'm taking Bo Van Pelt and Rickie Fowler ahead of Mahan.
Hanger: But the bottom line is that the team, even with those captain's picks, built a huge lead going into the final round. The U.S. should've been able to get 4 ½ points out of just about any assemblage of PGA Tour players with 12 chances on Sunday.
Morfit: I think the singles is the best indicator of the stronger team. I always thought Europe was better, and the players proved it.
Van Sickle: Maybe it was Karma payback. Americans run across Ollie's line after Leonard's putt in '99. Thirteen years later, Ollie is the captain on the other side of a 10-6 deficit, same as Brookline. Karma, destiny, Seve -- take your pick.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who's more to blame for the U.S. loss: Love or his players?
NEW FALL LINEUP
Garrity: Finally, let's address the PGA Tour's ever-changing marketing strategy. We're saying goodbye to the so-called "Fall Series" of second-tier events, which will be repackaged next year as season-opening tournaments awarding FedEx Cup points. I'm sure this pleases the affected tournament directors, but will Joe Fan -- or Joe Pro -- give a hoot?
Morfit: No, this change will be unnoticed by most sports fans, what with Presidents and Ryder Cups over and football in full swing.
Van Sickle: I think the move was long overdue to give these events credibility. It seemed like the Tour wanted the fall events to go away and then suddenly did a 180 in the wake of a recession that threatens the game. It's all good, but will Joe Fan even notice? Probably not. At least not until fantasy golf or betting on golf catches on.
Shipnuck: It's more golf. I'm not complaining.
Bamberger: As long as there is live golf on TV, we addicts will get our fix. Doesn't matter what you call it.
Hanger: I think it'll draw better fields and more interest than it used to, but not much more.
Dusek: It will all depend on the fields for the October and November events. If Tiger, Phil, Rory, Luke and other stars play in a few, then audiences might tune in, but getting those guys to pass on overseas appearance money is going to be nearly impossible. With the NFL and college football in full force, TV ratings and Joe Fan's interest won't be too high.
Van Sickle: Great point. Fans will notice if some big names play, but I don't like the chances of that. Not with the Silly Season shifting overseas, a WGC in China, a huge money event in South Africa and appearance fees galore. That's where the game is headed -- guaranteed money. With half-fields and no cuts, the WGC events are already effectively appearance-fee tournaments. How's Hartford or Innisbrook or Colonial supposed to compete with that?
Godich: All I know is that it's going to screw up the world's longest-running golf fantasy league, which has been going strong since 1986.
Herre: The Euro tour went this route years ago, and it has worked for them. Could the PGA Tour be taking a page? The U.S. Tour needs to get into the Asian market in a bigger way. I think Joe Fan in the U.S. has checked out. Joe Fan in the East, however, is ready to check in.
Walker: Doesn't the PGA Tour ultimately benefit from more international interest in the game? As more fans overseas watch golf, the value of the premier golf tour in the world will go up.
Van Sickle: Has the LPGA benefitted from international interest? Obviously. How's that working for interest in the tour in this country, however?
Walker: I don't know about the LPGA, but it's working for the NBA.
Herre: Unlike the LPGA, the PGA Tour has a full and robust U.S. schedule. Plus, once football starts, golf is nowheresville in the U.S. Why not take it to a market that cares?Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will the new Fall Series move the needle next year?