PGA Tour Confidential: Tiger's controversial two-shot penalty, Furyk's 59 and our golf memorabilia wish list
Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an email roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
1. Tiger Woods received a two-shot penalty Friday at the BMW Championship after a video appeared to show his ball move when Woods attempted to remove a loose impediment. After watching the video, he maintained that the ball oscillated but did not move. Was the penalty correct? And should Woods have noticed it at the time?
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Of course the penalty was correct. It's obvious, painfully so, that the ball moved. Slugger White is the judge and jury here, and he did his job. He protected the field. He protected every other player who would call that on himself. He rejected Tiger's claim, and for Tiger to continue to fuss about it is an unfair dis to a pro's pro. And you would hope that would be every player in the field. Tiger went for the branch, the ball moved and that's why he stopped his attempt. That ball did not oscillate. It moved from its original position. And that's the rule. Yes, Woods should have noticed it. He was on top of it, watching his ball like a hawk, as they all do in that situation. Even we duffers do the exact same thing.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Don't think it's his fault he didn't see it move. Strikes me as one more of golf's fiddly rules.
Joe Passov, senior editor, travel, Golf Magazine: The penalty was correct, because the ball did move, but it should never have been applied. I've had enough of a policy that allows television viewers, high-definition and extra cameras to determine the outcome of a tournament. The whole deal is far too prejudicial to Tiger and the other top stars. Until you get extra scrutiny on every player in the field, junk this selective application. That said, should Tiger have noticed? Yes.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Yes, the penalty was correct. It sure looked like the logo on his ball moved, but it's easy to understand why Tiger would not have seen that.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: On the video, it looks like the ball sank about 2 millimeters. Tough to expect TW to notice, but I'm a little surprised he wasn't more careful.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf.com: The ball clearly moves and the penalty was correct. Camera angles can be tricky so it’s plausible that Tiger didn’t see it move at the time, but his insistence that it didn’t move after watching the video is childish.
Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine: No doubt Tiger suffers from being the most scrutinized golfer in history. Would cameras have picked up on the incident had it been Brendan Steele? But rules are rules and it sure looked like the ball moved, however slightly, so the penalty is fair. As for whether Tiger shoulda, woulda, coulda noticed, this is the third infraction he’s been hit with this year, and he hasn’t called any of them on himself. Makes you think of the Paul Simon, or a modification of it: Still a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The ball appeared to clearly move so the penalty was correct. I can see where Tiger had a different view, looking down from above as he removed the twig, and he may have thought it wobbled but didn't change position. Replay shows it did so I'm surprised he acted like he disagreed. It's hindsight, but Tiger probably should have played a second ball, replacing it to its original position (how would you even do that?) so if it turned out it did move, he suffered only a one-shot penalty instead of two.
2. Where does Furyk's 59 on Friday rank among the all-time 59s?
BAMBERGER: The most recent.
PASSOV: Al Geiberger's Memphis 59 in 1977 was the best, primarily because he had all the pressure of being the first. True, there was lift-clean-and-place that day, but the next best score was 65, so his score was truly remarkable, especially on a 7,200-yard track. Trivia department: Geiberger won the event at 15-under, never shooting a round in the 60s, and former President Gerald Ford carded an ace in the pro-am. I'll go with Annika's 59 in Phoenix in 2001 as next best, followed by David Duval's final round to win at the Hope in '99. Slot Furyk's in at No. 4.
VAN SICKLE: All 59s are outstanding. If you don't win the tournament, though, it's just a nice little asterisk item on your resume. So I'd rate the 59s by the guys who went on to win at the top of this list.
GODICH: Considering the way the wind was howling and seeing as how nobody else shot better than 65 that day, I would have to say it ranks right near the top.
MORFIT: Pretty high. He beat the next-best score that day by five. Snedeker said he just didn't see that score out there.
WALKER: Any 59 is great. To do it on a windy day, against a talented field that didn’t go especially low, with a bogey, is close to the best ever.
RITTER: I'd slot it No. 3 behind Geiberger and Duval. And there's no such thing as a soft 59.
SENS: Second, after the one I notched in the final round of the 1999 Birdie King Championships at a now-defunct Boston-area Ground Round. Let’s see Furyk do that after a three beers and a basket of rancid onion rings.
3. Did Furyk's performance at the BMW change your mind about Fred Couples' captain's picks for the Presidents Cup?
GODICH: I said all along that Furyk deserved a spot on the team (along with Jordan Spieth). He has been playing brilliantly, he has won at Muirfield Village and he has had other top finishes there in the past few years. And what exactly has Webb Simpson done since winning the 2012 U.S. Open to warrant a spot on the team?
VAN SICKLE: Furyk had a dismal year last year and really played poorly in the clutch. A couple of good rounds early in a tournament isn't the same as needing a par to win on the 72nd hole with an 8-iron in your hand and then making a double-bogey. Furyk may, indeed, have some stellar golf left but after last year, it was time for Fred to go with some new blood. Furyk had the same opportunity as everyone to play his way onto the team in points and didn't do it.
MORFIT: Nope. Given the information he had at the time, Couples would've been crazy not to take Webb and Spieth.
WALKER: Spieth and Simpson were the right picks at the time, but 59 catches your attention. If Couples were picking today, he might take Spieth and Furyk. That’s why they call them “wildcard” picks.
SENS: No. Spieth has been a rocket-shot this year and Simpson has the match-play experience and birdie-barrage potential to make him a strong pick too.
RITTER: Couples made the right moves given the information he had at the time.
BAMBERGER: Fred made good choices. Furyk's handled his whole career like a pro's pro. But it's time for some new blood in an event that needs help.
PASSOV: Very easy to second-guess even before Furyk's BMW week. Frankly, the Presidents Cup could use a little juice, and Jordan Spieth provides more of that than an aging Jim Furyk, who hasn't been able to close. OK, but yes -- Furyk clearly deserves the spot over Webb Simpson. Simpson has one top 10 since April, four overall in '13. Even if Furyk fades to 10th on Monday, that would give him five top 10s in his last six events, including a 2nd in a major. Clearly, Furyk is the hotter golfer.
4. Which was more surprising: Furyk's 59 or Rory McIlroy's 78?
PASSOV: Furyk's 59 was shocking, not only because he lapped the field on a course that no one but Luke Donald knew, but also because he doesn't have the length to dominate a layout. If I'm Rory, I've written the year off, other than the dough rolling in for my Asia Silly Season encounter with Tiger.
SENS: Furyk’s 59. McIlroy has been wayward for awhile now. What Furyk did in high winds on a firm, fast course (overcoming a bogey along the way) is much more of a wow than a guy in a slump having a lousy day.
VAN SICKLE: We've seen Rory play some rubbish this year. It's just not hard to shoot 78. A pair of doubles, or one triple, and you're closing in. A 59 by a guy in his 40s is far more surprising.
GODICH: It has to be Furyk's round. Nothing surprises me about Rory these days.
MORFIT: Furyk's 59. Although Rory seems so lost it's sad.
WALKER: A 59 is like a perfect game in baseball -- rare, special and fleeting. After his incredible finish last year, McIlroy’s 2013 season is shocking. Whatever explanation you choose -- new clubs, girlfriend troubles, affluenza -- is insufficient.
BAMBERGER: Oh, 59 for sure. Anybody elite player half out of it can shoot 78. Not many can shoot 59. Many have the skill but it takes more than that.
5. Given the leaderboard, renovated golf course and NBC coverage, did the LPGA's Evian event strike you as a legitimate major?
PASSOV: Architect Steve Smyers transformed the Evian course into a much harder, more dramatic venue, but its stunning setting on Lake Geneva that straddles France and Switzerland makes one want to relax, not grind. Sorry that InBee Park wasn't a factor, so we could debate what her fourth major win would mean, but many of the other usual suspects were high on the leaderboard. Still, horrible weather conspired against it, shortening play to three rounds. Not a major yet, no matter what they call it.
GODICH: All this talk about the fifth LPGA major, and then the event gets reduced to 54 holes. I think that was the golf gods' way of saying, "Fifth major? We don't think so." And while I appreciate the increased efforts by NBC and Golf Channel to get more of the game on the tube, network coverage does not necessarily signify must-see TV. Look no further than the celebrity tournament at Lake Tahoe that NBC airs every summer.
VAN SICKLE: Has any major championship seemed like a major in the first year of its existence? I'd say no to Evian. But the LPGA has more than one major that lacks true major feel.
BAMBERGER: No. Majors are not named for water companies.
SENS: None of those three helped, but given the fact that the label was slapped on the Evian event for the first time this year, in a kind of presto-chango executive level move, it was always going to seem like something of a manufactured major.
WALKER: They got unlucky with the weather, but the Evian was a cool event at a glamorous course with an exciting finish. You can’t just decree a tournament a “major,” but the Evian is trending in the right direction.
6. Horton Smith's green jacket for winning the first Masters sold at auction this week for $682,229.45, the most expensive piece of golf memorabilia ever sold. What item from golf history would you most like to own?
PASSOV: I'll take Bobby Jones' "Calamity Jane" putter, just ahead of Hogan's Merion 1-iron and Old Tom Morris' beard. The way my garage looks, however, I might just have one of them and not know it.
MORFIT: Tiger's red shirt from the day he won his first Masters in '97.
WALKER: I’d want something I could swing. How about Arnold Palmer’s driver from the 1960 U.S. Open?
SENS: Blair O’Neal’s Cobra calendar bikini. Wait. Does that sound creepy? Ok, then, I’ll go with something boring like Hogan’s one-iron.
GODICH A green jacket, a U.S. Open trophy, a claret jug, a Wanamaker—I'm not picky. Any of those would do.
RITTER: A green jacket would be pretty damn cool, but you can't drink Bells Oberon out of it. Sign me up for a claret jug.
VAN SICKLE: I wouldn't mind owning Augusta National Golf Club but I don't suppose that's the kind of item we had in mind. I'm not into memorabilia. Take the golf ball Tiger Woods used to win the Masters in '97, mix it up with a bag of other balls and then tell me which one Tiger used? It's just a golf ball or a club or a bag. The green jacket is kind of cool. What's the point of owning it, or a trophy, if you didn't earn it yourself? I'd enjoy owning rare photographs of old players and tournaments. That's about it.
BAMBERGER: Pebble Beach Golf Links.