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PGA Tour Confidential: Players Championship Preview edition

Steve Williams, Adam Scott, 2013 Masters
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Williams has won 13 majors with Woods and another with Scott.

Bamberger: Alan, you are underestimating the importance of his philanthropic life.

Shipnuck: (laughing) He's also got cars to race.

Anonymous Pro: Since Scott isn't going to be able to keep using that anchored putter, maybe even after the end of this year, I've got to say Tiger.

Van Sickle: But Stevie could change horses. Who's to say he couldn't loop for Rory or Jason Day or some other young gun in two years?

Anonymous Pro: That's true. I still think Tiger is the answer. Because he's Tiger.

Shipnuck: It's definitely Steve Williams. Scott may pick off another one or two majors before he loses his putter. Then some other talented underachiever will pick up Stevie, and he'll snag a few more. There's no doubt he's a really good caddie. He read the putt in the gloaming that won the Masters for Scott. We've got to give him credit.

Van Sickle: Stevie is 49. As Michael pointed out, how much longer is he going to work?

Garrity: So you're saying Stevie is never going to be a ceremonial caddie? He's not going to caddie unless he thinks he can still win?

Bamberger: What I'd like to see happen is, once he retires from pro caddying, Stevie starts caddying for elite amateurs and picks up a few British Amateur or U.S. Am titles and rekindles the debate about whether national amateur titles should count toward the majors total. Maybe Stevie could get to 21 and pass Jack at 20.

Shipnuck: Scott said it best — that Stevie instilled in him the will to win.

Van Sickle: Notice how Scott suddenly became a regular contender in majors after Stevie got on the bag? That was no coincidence. Stevie is a big reason Adam won the Masters. That's exactly why Adam hired him.

One major down, three to go. What did we learn from the Masters?

Bamberger: The biggest thing, by far, we learned is that Tiger Woods does not care what you think.

Van Sickle: Didn't we already know that?

Bamberger: Yes, but the Masters confirmed that beyond any reasonable doubt.

Anonymous Pro: We learned that rulings should be left up to the PGA Tour and European tour officials instead of Fred Ridley, who's not involved with that sort of thing every day. There might have been a different result.

Van Sickle: Might have? How many other players in the last hundred years signed for a wrong score and weren't disqualified?

Anonymous Pro: I learned there's such a thing as karma. Once Tiger was around on the weekend, there was no way he was going to win. If he did, that would've been a Masters disaster. There was always going to be an asterisk next to that win.

Garrity: I can't leave the rules thing. We learned that only a golfer can love golf's rules. Anybody on the outside would think this is a nasty game of gotcha and that rules officials are pedants and Puritans and preachers. People are totally put off by it. There's the side of us that admires how the rules are so strict, so Calvinist, and everybody has to yield to them, but they're more complicated than the U.S. Constitution and the Magna Carta combined.

Van Sickle: Garrity scores bonus points for making the first mention of the Magna Carta in the roundtable. Class this place up.

Shipnuck: How complicated is it to drop from a water hazard? Tiger has done that a million times. The green coats messed this up. Tiger took a bad drop and should've been disqualified. This was a cut-and-dried situation, but Ridley and his cronies came up with a split-the-baby solution. The Masters missed a golden opportunity to say, We don't care if it's Tiger Woods. No one is above the law. Instead, we got this fishy back-room deal.

Bamberger: They had it right for half a day. The 14-year-old kid failed on the clock, badly, and he got a penalty for slow play. Then they got it wrong on Tiger. They blew it.

Shipnuck: That's why it was so jarring. They staked out the moral high ground, but because it was Tiger Woods, they let it pass. Just like they gave Ernie Els a drop in the trees and let Rory off after he kicked the sand. They bend the rules to protect players they like.

Bamberger: They've been overcompensating for Roberto de Vicenzo for 40 years.

What has been your favorite fabulous Players finish in the 21st Century?

Bamberger: I like the one Paul Goydos won.

Van Sickle: Goydos didn't win. He lost in a playoff to Sergio García.

Bamberger: I liked that one until the last part.

Shipnuck: Gary, are you asking which one is better than most?

Van Sickle: That's exactly what I'm asking, Alan.

Shipnuck: That's my answer. Tiger did win the year he made that crazy putt with Gary Koch's famous call on 17, didn't he? Really, other than Tiger's putt, Craig Perks's chipping in on 18 or Hal Sutton's approach to the last hole, can you even remember any other shots?

Anonymous Pro: Perks was ridiculous. His win was a clinic in scrambling all four rounds.

Shipnuck: Think how many times you've heard someone say, "Be the right club ... to-day!" So it has to be Hal Sutton's win when he uttered that iconic line.

Bamberger: I'd like the record to show that in the history of Northern California, nobody has done a worse Southern accent than Alan just did.

Garrity: There are two choices. One is Perks. The guy played the last three holes with one putt. He chips in for eagle at 16, makes a long birdie putt at 17 and chips in for par when it looks like he's blowing it at 18. He missed two two-footers earlier. It was hysterical, one of the greatest finishes of all time.

Anonymous Pro: What's the other choice?

Garrity: I don't remember any shots Stephen Ames hit when he won [in 2006], but he was beaten by Tiger in the match play tournament that year 9 and 8, and that result became his nickname. It was one of the great humiliations because Ames had said something derogatory about Tiger before the match. Well, Ames shoots 67, wins the Players by eight and beats Tiger by 15. That was a great role reversal.

Anonymous Pro: I liked the year Davis Love III won [2003]. It was cold and nasty the last round, and the tournament was still played in March when the greens were better and the rough was tougher. Davis hit some clutch shots that day, especially the one at 16 from the pine straw under the trees.

Van Sickle: I'll go with Adam Scott, who had the Players wrapped up after a perfect drive at 18. Then, unbelievably, he yanked his six-iron shot left into the lake. Then, even more unbelievably, he played a good chip to 10 feet and holed the putt to win. His finish had disaster written all over it.

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