Every week of the 2011 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 and join the conversation in the comments section below.
BUBBA ON THE BAYOU
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Greetings Tour Confidentialists, and where y'at? (That's Bayou-speak for how are you?) I'm guessing Bubba Watson's playoff victory over Webb Simpson played pretty well down on the Bayou. What a run of golf for the best left-hander in the game and the best American in the world: Hartford, a great PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, Torrey Pines and now New Orleans. When can I pencil in Bubba for a major? Any takers at Congressional? Does his game translate to our national championship?
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I don't see Bubba winning a U.S. Open, but I like the fact that he's capable of almost any surprise. Would love to see him do it.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Congressional, probably not, because Bubba's short game is still a little suspect. But depending on the weather, Royal St. George's isn't entirely out of the question. (Wouldn't it be awesome for a guy named Bubba to be named Champion Golfer!) I think Watson's best shot for a major this year will be at Atlanta Athletic Club in August.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He won't win a U.S. Open, but he's dangerous at the other majors. Atlanta in August with soft greens and one of the longest major championship setups ever could be highly favorable to Bubba.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Bubba is admittedly a head case, so who knows how he might react under that kind of pressure? Also, 20 other players have the same qualities that make him dangerous — long off the tee, good shotmaker, putter and scrambler. But he's definitely a real contender and a great personality for the tour.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Bubba may be the No. 1 American at this moment. Not sure how I feel about that. His game is so unorthodox; is it built for the long haul? He's definitely entertaining to watch.
Van Sickle: You can make fun of Bubba's swing if you want, but I think unique swings are an advantage. See Jim Furyk, Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer — the Hall of Fame is filled with unique swings. I wouldn't put any limits on Bubba. He seems jumpy, but the guy has guts, no doubt about it.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Bubba pulled off the insurance hat trick! Fun to watch, but I wouldn't bet on him for a U.S. Open. He's not going to have so much room to spray the ball off the tee like he often does, including today.
Evans: Bubba needs a lot of room to spray his tee shots, but I wouldn't bet against his wild style.
Hack: Remember how hyper Bubba used to be in contention? He's almost cool now. Not Sinatra cool, but getting there.
Van Sickle: Not even Nancy Sinatra cool.
Dusek: Don Rickles cool?
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: That's what getting a couple of wins under your belt will do for you.
TOUGH ROLL FOR SIMPSON
Hack: Webb Simpson isn't a fan of the ruling that cost him a shot and, likely, the title. On a one-foot par putt on No. 15, he grounded his club well behind the ball and it moved. Another bad rule of golf, or is this one worth keeping? I think it's a good rule.
Evans: Dem's da rules.
Van Sickle: Bad rule. No harm, no foul, and it's correctable. Just replace the ball. Unless the player caused the ball to move. Then it should be a penalty. Most times, though, the player doesn't cause the ball to move on a green, like when the wind blows it.
Godich: Perhaps it's the golf gods' payback for using the belly putter. He probably never has to ground the club if he's got a 35-inch putter.
Herre: Right. One downside to the long putter is that it's almost impossible NOT to ground it. Maybe this was some sort of golfy poetic justice.
Dusek: Why should a player feel compelled to alter his address, or stroke, because the ball might move on its own. If you make the ball move, foul on you, but I think the rule should be reconsidered.
Wei: Rules are rules, but I'm going to cop out and say I'm on the fence with this one. It sucks when he didn't cause it to move, and it's too bad it probably decided the tourney.
Godich: It's an especially bad rule when officials are so intent on baking out greens to the point that they're crispy.
Herre: Right, Mark. Those browns looked horrible. Hope they survive.