Marc Leishman's Sunday 62 was the lowest final-round score by a winner so far this season.
Carlos M. Saavedra / SI
By SI Golf Group
Monday, June 25, 2012

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.

LEISHMAN WINS AS CHALLENGERS COLLAPSE
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Geesh, the Travelers was the Travelers for three days -- birdiefest, good times -- and then the U.S. Open broke out on Sunday. I mean, choke city. Balls in water, in weeds, whiffed putts. Yikes. Do you find such train wrecks fun to watch? And what brings them on?

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Hate to see guys go down like that, but I guess whatever makes the tournament after a major compelling.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: It's tough to win, regardless of the event. Especially when you haven't been in that situation a whole bunch, like the late starters on Sunday.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: It's not "fun" watching everyone choke, but it's hard to look away from a train wreck. It was pretty ridiculous. Let's see, Driscoll hit it O.B. on 10 and 14, Davis in the water on 13, Bubba in the water on 15, Thatcher in the water on 15, Clark putting off the green on 13 and missing a two-footer on 17, Hoffman practically shanking it in the water on 17, Jacobson in the water on 17...

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Many golfers watch pro golf because of "I can do it, too" thinking. That not only goes for birdies and big drives, but also for collapses. We all get the nervous shakes.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Every week we learn how hard it is to win out there. And that the pros get quick with the swing and yippy on the greens, just like everyone else.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It's a little hard to watch, especially when it happens to guys who are trying to win for the first time. That's the great thing about River Highlands. You can go low, but disasters are waiting at every turn.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Golf is a game of constant failure, even at the highest level. Makes me feel better about my latest choking-dog round.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: I would rather see someone win with a flurry of birdies, and you hate to see Hoffman finish double bogey-bogey and lose by a shot, but I have to admit - a multi-car pileup like that can be pretty darn entertaining. That's golf I can relate to.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I love the occasional train wreck. It's a reminder of the game's brutal pressure.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I'd rather see someone win it, and not someone who finished two hours before the last group.

Mick Rouse, editorial assistant, SI Golf Group: You certainly can't call it boring to watch. I think the "choking" simply proves how insanely hard it is to win a golf tournament. One little mishap can snowball so quickly.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Why do Sunday train wrecks happen ... because it's Sunday and guys are trying to win a golf tournament. Pressure, plain and simple. I hate watching guys and gals, who I know are talented, self-distruct. I cringe and much prefer to watch golfers chase one another down the stretch.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I actually have a new favorite non-major Tour event. Loved everything about Hartford, except maybe the heat. The community gets behind it. Reminds me of old-school, small-market golf, like the old B.C. Open in Endicott.

Wei: Isn't it the best? This is probably the only non-major that I'd go out of my way to cover.

Herre: Agree, and River Highlands is fun to play. Lots of variety and original holes.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Do you enjoy watching final-round train wrecks?

AFTER THE OPEN, ON OR OFF?
Bamberger: I totally agree with Cameron about Hartford. It's a reminder that the old Tour, which was so community-minded, had lots going for it. Question: If you were a Tour player, would you want to play the week after a major?

Godich: I think it depends on the event and the course. That Hartford drew such a strong field speaks volumes.

Shipnuck: Gawd no. You should be mentally and physically exhausted after a major. Lying on a beach is the way to recover, not grinding at (sorry, Hartford) a B-list event.

Morfit: I would want to play Hartford, yes, because it was such a relaxed atmosphere after the pressure of a major, and in particular the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. You really are taken care of in Hartford -- or, in the case of the charter from S.F., even before you get there.

Wei: They go out of their way to take care of the players, not to mention the caddies and the media.

Herre: If I had played well in the major, yes, I'd want to play. Golf can be a game of streaks. When you're going good, take advantage.

Wei: Webb said he was tired and it was overwhelming, but the fans were super-appreciative and thanked him for showing up on every hole.

Bamberger: It's interesting to see that Casey Wittenberg played well at Olympic and won this week on the Nationwide tour.

Gorant: I think that's one of those streaks Jim was talking about.

Hanger: Heck yes I'd play. With everyone worn out and the biggest stars taking the week off, it'd be a great time to cash a big check.

Van Sickle: I'd want to play in every tournament that the best players skip. Each one is a golden opportunity. Let's face it, when Tiger was in his prime, that was one spot in the top 10 gone before you teed off.

Lipsey: I'd want to play no matter what happened the week before.

Morfit: There are also some good restaurants around. A lot of the guys ended up at an Italian place near the Cromwell Crowne Plaza, and there's a famous pizza place in New Haven if you're up for a drive.

Wei: There's not just a famous pizza place in New Haven. Try three! Pepe's is my favorite, but some prefer Sally's. Modern is great, too. So is Bar (mashed potato and bacon pizza is delicious).

Gorant: What is this, Zagat Confidential?

Morfit: Hey, if I'm a Tour pro and I'm making my schedule, I'm taking local dining options into account. No question.

Shipnuck: Then how on earth does anyone ever skip Pebble? Most of these guys are fine w/Chili's, and Outback is considered fine-dining.

Bamberger: The best pizza in the world is in New Haven. Pepe's is my place, even though it is touristy - it's famous for a reason. I was bragging about it to Lucas Glover, who said he wanted to check it out.

Shipnuck: I don't care how good the pizza is, it's still not an important tourney. And I love pizza.

Hack: Sally's Apizza for me. And if I'm grinding for my card, I'm at the Travelers and enjoying the chance for a payday.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: If you were a Tour pro, would you play the week after a major?

15 CLUBS
Bamberger: Here's a brilliant AP lede: "Jose Manuel Lara has been disqualified from the BMW International Open after the Spaniard's caddie attempted to hide having an extra club in his bag for the first round. Realizing on the second hole that Lara was using 15 clubs for Thursday's round at the Gut Larcenhof course in Pulheim, the caddie tried to hide the extra club in some bushes." OK, you're a Tour caddie lugging 15 clubs. How are you going to handle it?

Gorant: I'd congratulate myself for not robbing a bank.

Shipnuck: "You're gonna go ballistic," as caddie Myles Byrne said to Ian Woosnam at the 2001 British Open.

Bamberger: Shipnuck's the leader in the clubhouse. Ian Woosnam went ballistic.

Morfit: I think it depends if you want to work again. Assuming you do, you've got to stand there and admit you messed up and suffer the consequences.

Herre: Yes, you have to suck it up. The cover-up, or in this case the attempted cover-up, is always worse than the crime.

Hanger: First of all, you always do the right thing in this situation. Second, there's no way in hell you could ever get away with ditching a club, even if you were inclined to cheat. So yes, you have to admit the error.

Hack: Fess up and immediately start working the mental Rolodex for the hotshots on the Nationwide Tour.

Wei: It could have been worse; it was only the second hole, after all. I understand panicking and thinking about doing something dumb, but no way I'd go there.

Rouse: I can't help but wonder if anyone would have noticed if the caddie had just continued the round with the extra club in the bag.

Van Sickle: Hand a club to a kid as a souvenir. Gee, what a nice gesture, Mr. Caddie!

Lipsey: In my dozen years looping, I cheated a lot for my golfer -- kicking balls, dropping balls, moving markers on the green, etc. All country club loopers do that. Always in the name of making my boss happy and thus hopefully getting paid better. But in my stints looping on Tour, I never thought of cheating.

Godich: It's remarkable, really. One hole into a 72-hole tournament, to boot. Makes you wonder what other transgressions the guy might have had.

Bamberger: I hear you, Rick. There are a lot of things a caddie can do wrong, and I did most of them. I was caddying for Peter Teravainen in Europe. He gave me a ball for a lift-clean-and-place cleaning. I somehow tossed him back the wrong ball. He was standing over it when I said, "Peter, wait." He should have fired me. He didn't.

Lipsey: Usually, when you've got a problem and you have to fire somebody, the caddie, like the manager, is expendable.

Godich: Speaking of which, did I hear it right that Kyle Stanley, who's been missing in action since his win in Phoenix, fired his caddie, Brett Waldman? Sounded like a match made in heaven in the Golf Plus story we did in the Masters preview. What's up with that?

Wei: Kyle Stanley is a difficult person to caddie for. The end.

Bamberger: I talked this week to Kyle Stanley's new guy, Dave Woosley, who caddied for Chip Beck for years and more recently for Arron Oberholser. I didn't know the previous caddie, but Dave's a pro who is ready to live on the range, as Stanley does.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: If you were Lara's caddie, how would you have handled it?

WEBB STAYING HOME
Bamberger: Webb SImpson said this week the he will not play in the British Open because his wife is due in early August. Hogan, surely, is spinning in his grave, but what do you make of this new-age sensitivity? Yes, Webb will have plenty more Opens, but how many guys have won U.S. and British Opens in the same year? And yet it shows a remarkable set of priorities. Weigh in, please.

Van Sickle: Doubt if Hogan is spinning in his grave. He only played in the British Open once. Going over by ship wasn't exactly a fun time.

Morfit: I'm fine with it. Lots of British Opens; not gonna have that many kids. The British is not everyone's cuppa, anyway.

Lipsey: Four tournaments a year matter. A Tour player should drink major cups of tea at every chance.

Godich: Good for Webb. Can you blame someone for passing on an overseas event? Webb will have plenty of opportunities to play in the British.

Shipnuck: I'd like to see him go because he's on fire right now, and Lytham is a good course for his precise game. But I've skipped two Opens due to a preggers wife, so I understand his choice.

Hanger: I thought Bubba should've played the Players and had the newborn and Mrs. Bubba stay at the hotel, but this is different. You don't want to miss the birth of a child.

Rouse: When I think about Simpson, family man comes to mind immediately. I'm not surprised by this. Chris Bosh didn't get any flack for flying to Miami for the birth of his child during the playoffs. It's a pretty big deal.

Dusek: I will never, ever knock a guy for saying he wants to do something related to his family instead of playing a professional sport. I don't care if his wife isn't due during the Open Championship itself -- both my kids were born early -- I think his statement, "It's a decision I'll never look back on and regret" shows a lot of character.

Hack: I have no problem whatsoever with Webb skipping the Open.

Gorant: Obviously, we don't know all the details of the pregnancy, and a baby can come at any time, but the Open will end two weeks before the due date. Under normal circumstances that seems like a pretty solid cushion for someone who was really interested in playing.

Hanger: Totally disagree. Babies show up two weeks early all the time. I wouldn't leave town for a work trip that close to a due date, especially not an overseas work trip.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: You OK with Simpson's decision to skip the British Open to attend the birth of his second child?

BRITTANY'S BREAKTHROUGH
Bamberger: Let's wrap up with Brittany Lang, the elegant Dukie who finally won this week. She's 26, no old lady, but her game is so solid that you would have thought it would have happened long ago. Who's ready to jump on the Brittany bandwagon with me?

Shipnuck: She's been great at the Solheim; it's about time she won. What's truly amazing is that this is the first-ever LPGA win by an alum of Duke, which is a golf factory.

Rouse: If she were just out of college and fresh on the tour, I would be on the bandwagon, but she's put in a good bit of time and has yet to deliver until now.

Godich: Not so sure about that Mick. Breaking through should give her a load of confidence. I just wonder if she has that killer instinct.

Rouse: Winning once obviously makes you more confident when you get in position to win again, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to go out and rack up 3 or 4 more wins in quick succession. Look at Rickie Fowler.

Godich: I don't disagree, but Lang has to be saying, Yeah, I can do this.

Rouse: I don't disagree either, but that is completely different from actually doing it.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will this win lead to more victories for Lang?

 

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