3. Bubba Watson finished third at Sherwood Country Club this week. Watson hasn't won since his incredible 2012 Masters victory, and he's 26th in the Official World Golf Rankings. What happened to Bubba, and will he have a bounce-back year in 2014?
VAN SICKLE: What do you do after you win a title bigger than you could ever imagine? What happened to Bubba was a Masters win and the fame that goes with it. He's got a lot of talent. He has to with that unique swing of his, which I consider a big plus. Will Bubba ever truly be hungry again with a green jacket in his closet? He's one of a kind, so I wouldn't pretend to predict what he'll do next. Golf is way more fun with him in the picture, though, so I hope he has a big bounce-back in 2014. That'd be cool.
PASSOV: After his meltdown with his caddie at Hartford last summer, Bubba darn-near convinced me that he's equal part flake, equal part fluke. He's also got unfathomable talent. He's got all the money, fame and family life that he could have dreamed of. The question is, does he want reapply himself, refocus and harness all that talent -- and can he? With his length, ball-striking skills and creativity, he is absolutely a top-10 player, even with his streaky putting. And while he's not always my cup of tea, he's great for the game. I don't know that he'll bounce back in '14, but I'm rooting for it to happen.
RITTER: Bubba's swing, go-for-broke style and flaky demeanor don't add up to a consistent player. He'll never reach No. 1. But he'll be back, and I’ll look for him to win at least one more major before he's through.
SENS: What happened to Bubba was the Bubba-Craft and the General Lee and all the other symptoms of distraction and success that come after a big-time breakthrough. That said, I'm still surprised he won a major, and I don't expect he'll win another one.
SHIPNUCK: Bubba is Bubba -- his attention comes and goes like the wind. Adjusting to being the Masters champ isn't easy, especially when you throw in a newborn at the same time. He'll never be a weekly force, but there are still some big victories ahead for Bubba.
GODICH: What makes Bubba so entertaining is his unpredictability. He won't win a lot in '14, but he will win. And as was the case with his Masters victory, it will come when we least expect it.
BAMBERGER: Fatherhood. Car ownership. Watch ownership. Husbanding. Fatherhood.
LYNCH: Streaky, mercurial players defy casual predictions, none more so than Bubba.
4. England's Simon Dyson was handed a two-month suspension and fined $49,000 for using his ball to tamp down a spike mark that was in his line on a short par putt during October's BMW Masters in Shanghai on the European Tour. This violation just seems so egregious in the what-could-he-possibly-have-been-thinking department. Is the penalty too light, too stiff, or just about right?
BAMBERGER: I think the penalty is just about right. The real penalty is that his fellow players will never think of him the same way again, and he'll be watched with suspicion until the day he marks his final ball.
VAN SICKLE: There's a fine line between breaking the rules and cheating. In Dyson's case, I lean toward the latter judgment and, therefore, think his penalty was too light. Forget the fine, these guys have tons of money. A six-month suspension is the least he should've gotten.
SENS: We all have brain cramps. Seems pretty clear that Dyson had one at the BMW. Getting DQ'd strikes me as punishment enough, but given the scrutiny that rules enforcement has been under, I can understand the powers-that-be making a zero-tolerance statement. Leaves less room for gray-area controversies later on.
LYNCH: The European Tour disciplinary committee declared it a "momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating," but the severity of the punishment seems to think they regard it as more the latter than the former. It's hard to know if the punishment is fair when the process is so lacking in transparency. Were the same disciplinary standards applied to Dyson as were applied to Colin Montgomerie in the past? That's highly questionable. But this isn't just a European Tour problem, it's an issue across the game. Just ask Vijay Singh how it feels to be on the business end of a murky disciplinary process that doesn't seem to treat all alleged offenders equally.
GODICH: So Dyson's move was deliberate but "not a premeditated act of cheating"? What does that mean? The punishment doesn't fit the crime. Could you imagine one of the game's elite players being slapped with a penalty like that?
PASSOV: I wasn't at the hearing, but if they penalized him this much, it must have been a serious violation. Whether there was intent or it was just a momentary lapse is irrelevant. As rules violations go, this isn't like a bad drop. This is the equivalent of using your foot wedge to get a better lie in the rough. It's just such an in-your-face infraction. For that, I think the penalty should have been more severe. However, I also think this is a stupid rule. Why not be able to tamp down spike marks on the green? Your competitor just got a free run at a smooth putt --and just because some clod previously pulled up some turf tromping around the vicinity of the hole, you get penalized? Fair sentence, but I'd like to help with a class action appeal.
RITTER: It's a stiff penalty, but the stain on his reputation hurts more than the cash or probation.
SHIPNUCK: It's about right given that Dyson has never had any previous issues like this, or so we're told. It was such an obvious violation, and there was no attempt to hide it, so it almost feels like he had some kind of brain-lock at that moment. Let's hope so.