PGA Tour Confidential: Johnson takes Colonial, Donald wins BMW to reclaim No. 1
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.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Lots of golf on this Memorial Day weekend, but let's start with Zach Johnson's victory that nearly wasn't. He forgot to return his coin to its original position after moving his ball for Dufner on 18, turning a three-stroke victory into a one-stroke win. Should CBS's Peter Kostis -- who noticed the omission -- have shouted out a warning before Zach putted out?
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: No. That's on Zach and his caddie.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He might have if the outcome was truly going to be affected. But it's tough to shout it out in real-time when the whole state has become hushed.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: If the outcome was going to be affected? Turns out, Zach had to make a five-footer. Otherwise, they were in a playoff.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Absolutely not. And Zach should take a lesson from Tiger. Flip a coin over to the opposite side to remind yourself to move it back.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I feel like it was weird that he completely forgot. I know that I would have been repeating to myself over and over, "remember to move the coin back, remember to move the coin back."
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I don't think so, but then again, if it's acceptable for TV viewers to phone in and point out penalties ...
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: It's not the job of a media member to point out the rules or remind a player about something like that while the competition is still happening. I'm sure Zach got caught up in thinking about winning, forgot he'd moved his marker, and that's it. Johnson's a pro, and so is Kostis, and they both have a job to do.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Interesting question, but I don't think the announcers should get involved in the tournament while the action is unfolding.
Godich: So, if a player asks an on-course reporter where another player stands, what should the reporter say?
Reiterman: "Look at that giant scoreboard over there."
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Good thing somebody spoke up before Zach signed his card, or he'd have been front-page news for all the wrong reasons.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should Peter Kostis have warned Zach Johnson about a possible rules infraction before he putted?
Garrity: In Fort Worth, Jason Dufner's "Three Wins and a Wedding" screenplay turned into "Cowboy Chainsaw Massacre" when he tripled the 15th to hand Zach Johnson his second Crown Plaza Colonial title. Was Dufner simply worn out from a month of tournament leads and wedding cake in the face? Or is he not quite the unflappable fellow that his deadpan demeanor suggests?
Godich: I'm cool with Duf. He just ran out of gas. That Texas heat will suck the energy right out of you.
Shipnuck: I'm sure the Duf is exhausted. A wedding can kick anybody's butt. Sandwich two victories around it, and it's remarkable he was even in contention this week.
Godich: The grind wasn't any easier playing against a guy like Zach Johnson, who spent the weekend getting up and down from all over Fort Worth.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I agree he must be gassed, but at the same time I don't think he's as good long-term as he's looked the last month.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: That was one of the ugliest finishes I've seen in years. Johnson hardly distinguished himself, either. How can a Tour player get a brain-dead two-stroke penalty like he did on the 72nd hole?
Godich: And they played out of order from the tee. Imagine if Dufner had made his putt and Johnson had missed.
Dusek: Dufner got paired with exactly the wrong player. Zach Johnson wasn't going to wilt at Colonial, and one really bad hole ended up costing Dufner the third win. We already know he's not unflappable because he should have won the 2011 PGA Championship going away last year. But Jason's still on a monstrous hot streak in my mind.
Hack: Duf gets a pass. There isn't a guy out there who doesn't have a triple in his bag, especially after the run he's been on. The fumes probably ran out.
Godich: The fact that he made a bogey, a double and a triple with a short iron or a sand wedge in his hand over a seven-hole stretch pretty much says it all. This from a guy who was dialed in for three rounds and eight holes.
Lipsey: Two wins and a second in four starts? That's a career for 99.99 percent of guys who ever play the game. Dufner is just fine.
Wei: Getting married, being in contention and winning twice would wear anyone down. I'd chalk it up to fatigue and the sauna-like conditions down in Texas. He ended up only losing by one with his C-game. Good to see him hang in there.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Was Dufner worn out, or is he not as unflappable as we think?
RORY'S POOR SHOWING
Garrity: What about the BMW PGA Championship and the wet-fuse performance of our defending U.S. Open champ, Rory McIlroy. Rory lost his world No. 1 ranking at Wentworth, shot a second-round 79 to miss his second straight cut, and tarnished his reputation for sportsmanship by throwing his club after a bad shot. Have fame and fortune spoiled our young hero?
Herre: Nah, he's living life a little. Good for him.
Gorant: Love hurts, John, as young Rory is learning. He admits he's been a little distracted, but I think he'll refocus a little and get back on track.
Ritter: Just a rough patch. More telling than the club-toss was McIlroy's admission that he hasn't practiced quite as hard lately. I expect him to re-focus and play well this summer.
Dusek: Absolutely not. Obviously two missed cuts are not what Rory had in mind as he gets prepped for the U.S. Open, but no golfer is immune to stretches of bad play. As for the club toss, I don't love seeing guys do it, but I understand where it comes from and why it happens, and it really doesn't bother me too much.
Godich: Well, I did say I was a bit concerned that he was jetting up and down the East Coast after the Honda win. But he's 23 and enjoying life. Wouldn't we all do the same? Nothing to be concerned about. It's golf.
Shipnuck: Not spoiled, but it has made him a bit soft. Everyone plays poorly on occasion, but what's distressing with Rory is how little fight he shows when things are going bad.
Lipsey: Ruined? Flying to Rome to see your girlfriend, jetting back to Wentworth to play golf, dropping ALL the way to No. 2 in the world. Sounds OK to me.
Hack: Love his honesty about not practicing as much as he should recently. That said, uh, Rory, please go hit a few large buckets before Olympic. Thanks.
Wei: Agreed. At least he still has that candor. He was beating balls at Wentworth Saturday morning after he missed the cut, so that's a good sign.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Not at all spoiled. The time has come to take a deep breath on all of our hero-worshiping. They're much more interesting as actual human beings.
Lipsey: As we discovered with Woods.
Walker: Like John McEnroe, there's always been a touch of the brat in McIlroy. He'll be fine.
Reiterman: I'm not hitting the panic button on Rory, but I just find the timing strange. Pretty much any other time of year, I wouldn't blame the guy for taking a break and jetting around the world with his girlfriend. But Players-BMW-Memorial-U.S. Open is not the stretch where you need to be slacking off. Hit the range, Rory!
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: I don't think fame and fortune are to blame, but he's rapidly descending my list of U.S. Open favorites.
Wei: It happens. He had a bad day and let a club slip. I'm sure his dad had a few words with him about the incident. How many times have we seen Rory throw a club on the course? I count one. Now, if we start seeing him kick clubs on 16 at ANGC, I'll start getting worried.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Any concern over Rory's mini-slump?
MORE WATER, PLEASE!
Garrity: Sticking with the anger-management theme, Ernie Els betrayed his usually-amiable facade with a profanity-laced tirade about Wentworth's too-firm greens, which he said had been improperly watered. Was Ernie's anger righteous, or was he merely deflecting criticism for his botched re-design of England's most prominent tournament venue?
Lipsey: Guys who miss putts complain about bad green conditions, and Ernie's been missing a whole lot of putts lately.
Gorant: Seems like they're interrelated. Ernie's tweaks require a soft course. The conditions don't match the redesign, which makes Ernie look bad.
Godich: Ernie is as humble as they come, but everybody's got pride. He's no doubt tired of the criticism. I'm sure he reacted before somebody blamed him for someone else's mistake.
Dusek: I think pride, both for the work that he's done at Wentworth and in his game, has a lot to do with his outburst. Els has high standards for both, and neither seems to be meeting those standards right now.
Walker: Els is taking this too personally. I wonder if it's wise to have active players involved in designing or redesigning important tournament courses.
Godich: Ernie could have said no. And it's not like he didn't get paid for it.
Bamberger: Wentworth surpasses the great Belfry links, John? My guess is that Ernie's real anger is at himself, but it's far easier to take it out on an inanimate object that cannot talk back.
Herre: Els should know better than to go off in front of the British press. They'll never let him forget it.
Wei: Eh, he goes off at the press more than people realize, but I find it kind of endearing. More often than not, he'll apologize later. I like seeing that human side; it just shows he's passionate. But yeah, Ernie is probably as frustrated at himself and the design results (or flaws) as he is at the course setup.
Hack: Els was already sensitive after last year's tournament, especially concerning the par-5 finisher that was essentially a par-3. The baked-out greens after he begged officials for "triple the water" put him over the edge.
Wei: Last year at the U.S. Open, I ran into Rory in the lobby in the player hotel early in the week, and somehow the topic of Ernie's redesign and the complaining about the greens came up. Rory said it wasn't so much Ernie's fault but the European Tour's for not setting up the course properly.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Was Els right to be angry about Wentworth's setup?
ARMCHAIR OFFICIAL GETS MCDOWELL
Garrity: In another of those Rules of Golf kerfuffles, Graeme McDowell was penalized two strokes at Wentworth when high-def TV cameras picked up a slight movement of his ball on a nest of leaves when he was 10 feet away. One penalty stroke was for causing the ball to move (which nobody on the ground noticed). The second was for not replacing the ball where it originally lay. Thinking way too logically, an unhappy McDowell said, "How are you supposed to attempt to replace the ball when you're not sure it moved in the first place?" Who's at fault here? McDowell? Rules official John Paramour? The fan who called the penalty from his armchair? The inventor of the telephoto lens?
Shipnuck: I think you forgot Sir Isaac Newton.
Godich: For lack of a better answer, I'll blame McDowell. As course designers are fond of saying when asked how to play shots from impossible spots around a green, just don't hit it there!
Bamberger: TV can pick up things that the naked eye cannot. This is a gray area the golfing authorities are going to have to address.
Gorant: TV technology has outpaced the rules. If a ball moves in the woods but no one without an HDTV can see it, did it really happen?
Herre: If a player is so far away from his ball when it moves that he didn't see it, he should be spared the one stroke for not moving it back. Only fair.
Reiterman: If a player doesn't see it, his playing partner doesn't see it, and a rules official doesn't see it, it shouldn't be a penalty. Some dude with a 70-inch HDTV and a DVR should never be part of any sporting competition ... unless American Idol is a sport.
Walker: But it's the rule that's the problem. The last person to blame is the passionate fan.
Dusek: If McDowell didn't know the ball had moved in the first place, I've got a hard time placing any genuine blame on him. I am not a fan of viewers calling in rules violations they think they see on TV. NFL fans don't call Fox Sports when a Cowboys lineman holds a Giants linebacker and the referees don't throw a flag.
Hanger: We've had this debate before, and I agree with Dave. Sometimes someone might notice something obvious and say something, but I don't want to see a time when golf fans are scrutinizing everything in slo-mo in hope of busting a pro.
Herre: I've always liked that fans, spectators or even TV announcers can call in infractions. Such actions are in keeping with the word and the spirit of the Rules of Golf. Plus, it differentiates our sport, making golf interactive like no other game.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who do you blame for the McDowell penalty: the official, the fan, McDowell, or someone else?
WHO'S NO. 1?
Garrity: With his four-stroke victory in the British PGA, Luke Donald once again sits atop the World Ranking, an honor he's been swapping with McIlroy every couple of weeks. But the world's hottest golfer, despite his hiccup today, is Colonial runner-up Dufner, a 35-year-old pro who had never won a PGA Tour event until four weeks ago. Who do you regard as the real No. 1 -- the steady-over-time Donald or the streaking Dufner?
Dusek: The man playing the highest quality golf today is Jason Dufner. By that logic, I'll say that Dufner is the real No. 1.
Reiterman: Giving it to Dufner. Two wins and a second are better than Donald's recent record, although two top 10s and a win ain't too shabby either. I'd even go as far as to say that recently Rickie Fowler and Zach Johnson have been playing better than Luke.
Lipsey: Donald. Winning a lot and always contending over a few years beats a hot month.
Gorant: I think Luke's win puts him over the top.
Godich: I moved Donald back ahead of Duf this week. Luke won the Euro tour's flagship event in a rout. He has also won in the States this year. Duf had a two-shot lead with 10 holes to play but, fatigue or not, couldn't close the deal.
Bamberger: Our poll is meant for streaking, as are these fast-moving times. In other words, The Duf, for his four-week run. But I'll take Luke's swing to my dreams.
Walker: Dufner is the last guy I want to see streaking, but he's my No. 1.
Shipnuck: Donald, easily. He has more wins than Rory this year, just as he had more wins last year.
Herre: The Duf gets my vote -- for this week, anyway.
Hack: I give it to Luke, but I am growing impatient for that maiden major.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who's the best player in the world right now: Dufner, Luke or someone else?
NA'S ROAD TO RECOVERY
Garrity: Kevin Na, who attracted both sympathy and ire at the Players for his endless-waggle routine, finished at Colonial with a faster setup and a final-round 66. "It still isn't easy," he said, "but it's something I need to do." What do you think? Has the likeable Na beaten his waggle-yips?
Godich: Sorry, I have to see him do it when he's in the hunt.
Lipsey: He's in step 10 of his 12-step yip-withdrawal program.
Bamberger: A yipper is always in recovery, no matter the yip, no matter the golfer. Stole this idea from Tom Watson himself.
Shipnuck: I think he's week-to-week. It's certainly a fascinating melodrama.
Herre: Have to give him credit for attempting this huge change so quickly.
Dusek: I commend Na for making a concerted effort to change and get quicker, but no golfers ever beat the yips, they only learn to manage the affliction more effectively.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Has Na beaten his yips in just one week?
CHAPMAN TAKES SENIOR PGA
Garrity: Finally, a guy named Roger Chapman played brilliant golf and won the Senior PGA Championship. Anybody hear of him before yesterday?
Shipnuck: Didn't he play hoops for Kentucky in the late '80s? I recall some King Rex bling.
Bamberger: Did he invent the Chapman Scoring System? Yes, he's been well-regarded in Euro golf for decades, not at the Mark James level, but close.
Ritter: Nope. But Harbor Shores looked pretty good in HD.
Godich: With all due respect to Mr. Chapman, this is the last thing the senior tour needed. Six hours of golf on NBC, and Roger Chapman wins going away. Maybe Johnny Miller knew something by staying away.
Herre: Chapman won an event in Rio in 2000, but that's it in more than 600 Euro tour starts. Biggest news of the week may have been soon-to-be-67 Hale Irwin on the leader board.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Had you heard of Chapman before this week?