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.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Tiger and Phil both flamed out at the Greenbrier, and Phil immediately lobbied for (and received) a spot in the Scottish Open. What do we make of all that heading into the British?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Mickelson simply isn't playing well, and Tiger circa 2012 is, well, inconsistent. I don't see Mickelson as a factor in the British Open. Woods could contend if he putts well. I think he can manage the other bumps and bobs at Lytham.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Phil peaked at Pebble. I applaud him for trying to rediscover the magic in advance of the British. The new Tiger is the inconsistent Tiger.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Phil's game hasn't been solid since his disaster on Augusta's fourth on Sunday at the Masters. His putting is still better than it was last season, but his game seems loose. It's lacking accuracy, and his desire to add the Scottish Open has to tell us he doesn't feel good about it right now. Tiger's missed cut is a lot more surprising, but I'm much less concerned about him. What a difference six months makes.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: If Tiger had been serious about winning, he would've seen the course sooner than Wednesday. He had a Nike shoot on Monday. You can't learn the Greenbrier's secrets in one or two rounds. Tiger didn't have the local knowledge he needed. He misread putts and hit shots the wrong distance, unable to judge the effect of the heat and the altitude. We know better than to expect consistency from Phil.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Not a great week for Woods, but I still think he deserves to be the betting favorite at Royal Lytham -- although he won't be my pick. Phil's clearly hit a rough patch, and it's hard to see him contending at the British, where he doesn't have a great track record to begin with.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The only thing Phil wants more in his golfing life than a U.S. Open is a British Open, and the U.S. Open has come and gone. He must be realizing what all athletes realize, sooner or later: time and chances are slipping away. He's giving himself every chance. I wouldn't read anything into Tiger's MC. His two rounds weren't awful -- one under is such a low cut.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Phil hasn't played well since he "overdid it" in the weeks leading up to his withdrawal at the Memorial. He just can't figure out the Old White, either. As for Tiger, who knows, but he never seems to play well at courses where he's making his first start.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phil hasn't been the same since he struck out batting right-handed at Augusta. I wouldn't expect much from him at Lytham. And Tiger is turning into a mini-Phil with his inconsistency -- great one week, shaky the next. I guess that means he's due for a good performance at the Open.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will Tiger and Phil be factors at the British Open?
PAY FOR PLAY?
Gorant: CBS Sports published a story this week claiming that Tiger received $1.5 million and Phil $1 million in indirect payments or de facto appearance fees, which are supposed to be against the rules on the PGA Tour. The tournament allegedly skirts the rules by paying the players for "personal service" contracts, which usually involve showing up at a cocktail party or giving a clinic. Critics say these cash giveaways add to the "haves/have nots" division of Tour events. If it's true, what do we think of all this?
Herre: This sort of payment has always been in play -- only the numbers have changed.
Godich: I've got no problem with appearance fees, as long as they're advertised as such. How much has the Tour made because of Tiger and Phil?
Van Sickle: It's been going on for years. The Greater Milwaukee Open lured Lee Trevino for several years, when it was the week before the British Open, with a similar deal. In Europe, they're open about it. On the PGA Tour, it's hidden. What's the point? There is no stopping it. Certainly, the sponsors don't want it stopped. That's the only way Jim Justice is going to land Tiger and Phil for his event.
Shipnuck: If this is what it takes to get big names to second-tier events, so be it. All those Zurich "ambassadors" did wonders for the New Orleans field.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: It's hard to blame the tournament organizers who can afford it. Their obligation is to get the best field they can. And it's a good investment ... as long as the stars make the cut.
Dusek: If that story is true, it sends a message to every tournament director and championship committee: "Unless you are hosting a major or one of a handful of elite events [Wells Fargo, etc.], you've got to buy buzz or be satisfied with being a run-of-the-mill event."
Van Sickle: That message is already sent, Dave, like it or not.
Wei: It is a little amusing if Justice spent all that money to bring the big stars and ended up with Ted Potter Jr. and Troy Kelly in a playoff. All due respect to both players, but I don't think that's what Justice had in mind.
Godich: Every sports league has stars, and the stars get paid more than others. The Tour just needs to be upfront about it.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Jim Justice donated a healthy check to Phil's Birdies for the Brave foundation. If that convinced Phil to show up at the Greenbrier, I don't really have a problem with it. If Justice wrote a check to Phil's personal account, I'd have a bigger problem with it.
Van Sickle: Maybe the tour needs to have appearance fee rules. The fees could be made public and each player could receive only a set number per calendar year -- say, three. Once Tiger and Phil have used their three, the price would go up for the guys next in line, like Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Web Simpson, Fred Couples and Ernie Els.
Godich: The biggest story here may be that Tiger is attracting seven-figure appearance fees. Two years ago, who thought we'd be writing that?
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Do you have a problem with pros receiving money as incentive to play in a PGA Tour event?