PGA Tour Confidential: Woods and McIlroy meet again, Watney and Hanson win in Asia

Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
Chris Condon / Getty Images
Several panelists feel Jay Haas is one of the nicest guys in golf.

NICEST GUYS ON TOUR
Morfit: Okay, this question is slightly off-beat, but given the Peter Hanson win, I have to ask: Who's the nicest, most decent guy you've ever come across on the PGA Tour? Hanson would be in my top five, for sure.

Van Sickle: They retired the nice-guy trophy with Byron Nelson. No contest.

Reiterman: While I haven't spent a ton of time on Tour, I'll never forget seeing how well Padraig Harrington treated his pro-am partners at Quail Hollow in 2011. It was a Monday afternoon, no one was around, and he gave them his full attention, answering their questions, giving lessons in the middle of the fairway. And then he stopped and gave long, thoughtful answers to each question I had.

Dusek: I've had two equipment-related one-on-ones with Rory McIlroy and came away both times thinking that he's charming and mature beyond his years. Shocker, right? However, the nicest player I've met on the PGA Tour is Justin Rose. They also don't come any better than Phil Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay.

Herre: Will second Mackay. He's always accommodating, a straight shooter.

Dusek: On the Wednesday before this year's Masters, Mackay agreed to do an on-camera interview with me for Sports Illustrated at the Majors. Not only did he drive himself to our location, but he arrived 30 minutes early because he said he wanted to avoid traffic. "Don't worry about me, I'll just sit here and wait until you guys are ready." Needless to say we did the interview right after I picked my jaw up off the ground.

Van Sickle: He operates on caddie time -- 30 minutes early for everything.

Morfit: I agree, Gary. One of the more enjoyable features I've done in the last few years is the one I did on Bones. The guy was full of so many good stories, I could have done a pretty entertaining story with just the ones that got cut.

Shipnuck: Nick Price.

Garrity: Jay Haas is the first to come to mind. He always gives the impression that you're more interesting than whatever he was doing. Great smile, too. A natural.

Morfit: John, I'm right there with you on Haas. If they were all as amiable as that guy, our job would be so easy a caveman could do it. He reminds me of a line from a movie I just saw: "A man for whom kindness is an instinct."

Walker: I worked on a Golf Magazine instruction cover story with Stewart Cink in Hartford in 2008. He couldn't have been nicer, chatting with golfers on the course who stopped by to watch. At one point, the photo shoot was dragging a bit and I said, "Thanks for your patience, it's only going to be another 15 minutes or so." He said, "Take your time, I blocked out my afternoon for this." That was a first.

Herre: Had the chance to spend some time with Mike Donald recently. He's an interesting guy with a clear-eyed view of golf and life.

Ritter: Haven't spent a ton of time on Tour, but generally speaking, most pros seem courteous (even if they're faking it) and willing to give a quote if you're respectful of their time. Among the most amicable and quotable, Stricker and Zach Johnson would be somewhere near the top of my list.

Van Sickle: I heartily second all the names mentioned above. Maybe there's something about golf that keeps you humble (well, there definitely is), but this shows the game has no shortage of classy, nice characters. If you asked the opposite question about who the biggest jerks are, it's tough to come up with very many names.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which pros to you think are the nicest on Tour?

WGC-HSBC
Morfit: The last WGC of the year is this week: the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills, China. Fifth-ranked Justin Rose, the European Ryder Cup hero who won in Turkey, seems to be the hottest player among the many stars lined up to compete. Is there any one thing that could happen at the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills to alter the narrative of 2012? What would it be? Could Phil Mickelson play himself back into the conversation? Could Rose begin to challenge Rory-Tiger-Luke? What are you curious to learn from this impressive collection of talent at "Asia's Major"?

Dusek: A win from Luke Donald would almost seem like, "Hey, remember me?" It feels like most of the Americans in the field are just playing for money and for momentum going into 2013.

Van Sickle: No, the die has been cast. There are a lot of players who could put themselves back in the big picture for 2013 with a win, like Luke Donald or Martin Kaymer or our pal Hanson or someone looking for a much-needed encore like Sergio or Padraig. But I don't think anything will change much no matter who wins this week.

Walker: Nothing that happened after the Ryder Cup can alter the 2012 golf season, but it would be nice to see Mickelson continue to play, and putt, better, like we saw in the playoff events and the Ryder Cup.

Herre: I might put Hanson on my SI Ranking ballot should he win, but otherwise I'm looking forward to Kapalua.

Ritter: It wouldn't change much about how we remember this season, but I think a win would be big for Mickelson. He looked so lost this summer after contending at the Masters, but then found his form at the FedEx and Ryder Cups. A win would be a nice bookend to his title at Pebble Beach early in the season, when he stomped Tiger on Sunday, and would give him some good vibes heading into '13.

Shipnuck: Nah, the BMW Masters was this year's Asian major. We learned that a tourney with almost no Americans but all the top Euros is great fun and a helluva leaderboard.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What potential storyline would you find most interesting this week at the HSBC?

 

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