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.
1. Tiger vs. Sergio right this minute: non-story, minor story or major story? What's your take on Garcia's conduct -- and his future?
Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel analyst and Golf Magazine columnist: Major story. At first the verbal slaps between the always fault-finding Sergio and the never-forgiving Tiger were mildly entertaining but when Sergio zipped past petty to a hugely offensive, racist comment, it became not just a golf story but a sad story that dominated all media. Sergio, seemed sincere in his apologies and somewhat humbled by the embarrassment as he should've been. I heard some say that the uproar was unjustified. To anyone who has ever been subjected to racism or prejudice, this was not a flippant remark to be dismissed and Sergio will need to be effusive in his apologies and very tolerant of the maelstrom that will meet him at Merion, if not in the media, certainly from the other side of the ropes. Perhaps this will make Sergio mature to the level of his talent, I hope so.
Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Golf.com It's a major story in that there are so many elements to it. It dances along the "third rail" of this sport -- race and discrimination, a subject that is only every addressed when someone drops a clanger in a public setting, like Garcia or Steve Williams. It's also so rare to see two golfers swinging handbags at each other in a public spat, and admittedly that was entertaining before Sergio jumped off the deep end. The feud also revealed that Tiger isn't as universally revered among other players as most TV announcers would have viewers believe. Can you imagine how much Maalox Tim Finchem had to down this week? But in the end this sorry episode revealed why a controlled Woods wins when it matters and why a petulant, emotional Garcia doesn't.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Non-story at the moment but it'll flare up again as soon as they're paired together again and/or as soon as some yahoo decides it would be fun to see if he can make Sergio lose his cool. Just a matter of time in both cases. If Sergio ever grew up he'd be a world-beater.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It's no secret that these guys don't like each other, so it was a non-story-until Sergio made his fried-chicken comment. Not long ago, I thought Sergio was in line for a big bounce back, maybe even a major. Not anymore. Tiger's right. The guy's a whiner. And not a very smart one.
Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: I'd say it's a minor story between Tiger and Sergio. Both guys obviously want to move on from this ugly incident. Sergio has shown, despite his little hiatus a couple of years ago, that he still has a lot of growing up to do. He's 33 years old and continues to make more news for what comes out of his mouth than what he does on the course.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Major gaffe. It will follow him, just like it does Fuzzy.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tiger vs. Sergio was a fun minor story until Sergio dropped the FC word--fried chicken. Then it spun out of control. Otherwise, it was just two guys who don't like each other being rude to each other and insulting each other. Sergio's line about that was the first thing Tiger was truthful about in 15 years was hilarious. I appreciate that Sergio speaks his mind even at times when he shouldn't. I don't think is a long-lasting scar...unless he and Tiger start having on-course duels in majors.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: It's a major story until Sergio tees off in Round 1 at Merion. Then it either fades, or evolves even further, depending on the crowd's response and Sergio's reaction. Sergio's future remains what it's always been - a world of talent and potential that's never been realized.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Tiger vs. Sergio? Well, it's not Ali-Frazier. Tiger gets what he's had and what he wants, continued domination of the talky Spaniard.
2. Sergio got a warm response from the Wentworth crowds. What should he expect from the Philly fans at Merion?
Morfit: Not warm.
Godich: He's playing in the city whose fans were notorious for booing Santa Claus and cheering a neck injury to Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin. And Monty thought he had it bad?
Reiterman: You have to expect some heckling from the Philly fans, but this will ultimately be about how Sergio handles it. Does he fire back insults or gestures to the crowd? Does he stop blaming outside forces for his poor decisions? Judging from Sergio's record, there could be some fireworks.
Van Sickle: I'm no expert on current conditions in Philadelphia but this is a town where Donovan McNabb and Mike Schmidt got booed and alternately cheered. I would expect something like the Bethpage Black fans only with a little more golf expertise. I don't think Sergio's reception will differ from anyone else's. He might have more fans in his gallery now, though.
Chamblee: Philly fans will not be anywhere as lukewarm as the Wentworth crowds, they will, or should I say, some will, try to get under his skin, which has always been easy to do. Sergio overcame putting woes this year but the crowds at Merion are likely to be far more distracting than the yips.
Ritter: Something in between "Wentworth 2013" and "Bethpage 2002." Regardless, because Sergio is always so far into his own head, I'd be surprised to see him play well at Merion.
Lynch: The Philadelphia Main Line is pretty far removed from Bethpage State Park, so we probably won't see the fusillade of abuse he endured at the 2002 Open. I doubt fans see much in this to change attitudes toward Garcia. I don't think he's a racist, but he admitted himself that he's a whiner, and a chronic one at that. And as a rule whiners don't have much fan support at the Open. See: Montgomerie, Colin.
Bamberger: Philadelphia will open its arms. To Tiger too. That's how we roll.