Every week of the 2009 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Folks, The Ides of March are upon us. Tough for Julius Caesar, but good for the rest of us. The Masters is around the corner, Tiger still wears red on Sunday, and Phil is still Phil.
Lots to chew on this week, including a juicy on-air back and forth between Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbie on who is the game's best player. Johnny said if Phil is hitting it 300 yards and straight, he's the best player in the world. Roger said he knew a guy who could beat him last name Woods. Tiger didn't win this week, but he seemed to get better as the tournament wore on. What does everybody think about Phil's win and Tiger's first stroke-play showing of 2009?
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: As far as the Tiger-Phil debate, I got two words: Scoreboard Johnny. These guys have gone head to head for 12 years now, and Tiger owns Phil. I'm not a Tiger lover, but I can't even see the argument.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: I've always thought Johnny Miller was a little cuckoo in the best sense of the word. He has a brilliant golf mind as well as the great potential to be completely wrong. On Tiger and Phil, he's wrong.
Hack: Seems to me like there is some history between Tiger and Johnny, otherwise Johnny wouldn't keep making these off-the-wall statements. I'm glad Roger called him on it.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: The thing of it is, when Tiger is paired with Phil, other than a few exceptions (at TPC Boston, once; at Doral, once) Phil is less likely to hit it 300 yards and straight, while Tiger is more likely to be firing on all cylinders. There's just a huge discrepancy between Tiger and Phil, and between Tiger and pretty much everyone else, in the mental game.
Hack: Win No. 36 for Philly Mick, after going to the hospital last night and receiving 2 IV bags, was impressive. I'm not calling it Hogan, Tiger or Venturi, but golf's favorite punching bag is a man to be reckoned with all of a sudden. With Tiger on the mend, '09 seems like the perfect year for Phil to end his majorless streak.
Morfit: I said in last week's roundtable that I thought he'd either win or contend at Doral and Augusta. It seems like Bethpage sort of owes him one after the 2002 U.S. Open. I say he wins either the Masters or the U.S. Open. I suppose both would probably prove Johnny Miller right.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm so glad he's back on his game. Love him or hate him, Phil is always fun to write about. He has as much game as Tiger, just more variance in his intensity and decision-making. But from 2004 until the 72nd hole at Winged Foot, he was a factor at virtually every major, and I think Phil is going to have a monster year in '09. Don't forget, since '03 he's won more Masters than Tiger, and Bethpage is where the cult of Phil began.
Hack: New Yorkers will be going crazy for Phil at Bethpage. He teased 'em three times Bethpage in '02, Shinnecock in '04 and Winged Foot in '06.
Hack: And they say Swedes are shy!
Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: But he doesn't do the Full Monty.
Gorant: And who knew Bjorn Borg has his own underwear line? Bet that stuff is flying off the shelves in Stockholm. What are the odds some junior executive at IMG is setting up a meeting with Fruit of the Loom as we speak?
Hack: So Tim Finchem is worried about the length of guys' hair but not of their short-shorts? Isn't there some rule about hitting a shot (almost) in your birthday suit?
Gorant: There should be.
Herre: If his club had touched the water it would've been a two-stroke penalty.
Shipnuck: I spent a long day with Stenson for a feature a couple of years ago, and I'm not the least bit surprised he disrobed. He is a totally cool dude who quotes "Talladega Nights" and the "Life of Brian" like religious texts. He's also quite the merry prankster throwing water balloons off hotel balconies is a favorite activity, and somewhere in Asia he picked up a pen that zaps its user with a strong electrical jolt. He spent a whole tournament walking around asking players for their e-mail addresses and cracking up as they shrieked with surprise.
Herre: Did anyone catch the look on Tiger's face when he concluded his post-round interview with Jimmy Roberts? Bet Tiger won't be making Jimmy's book party.