Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
1. Tiger Woods took himself out of consideration for the Ryder Cup next month due to his injured back and said he won't play again until December. Without Woods, are Team USA's Ryder Cup chances better, worse or nonexistent?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine (@CameronMorfit): Their chances are better without him for many reasons. First of all, Tiger, through little fault of his own, can be a distraction in these team events. In the worst cases, his fame and/or gravitational forces pull the team out of round. That won't happen without him there. Also, I don't think he and Tom Watson have much to say to each other. Also, he is not playing well enough to be of help.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): Definitely better, because it removes a huge distraction. Say Woods was on the team but was benched on Saturday -- that woulda been a monumental ruckus.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Well, better. The way Woods was playing, he had less than a 50 percent chance of halving or winning his Sunday point. Alternate shot isn't really his thing. Better ball is better for him in theory but not in practice. I don't think he'd really like playing for Watson. It would be one more week away from his kids. I think the team's better without him. Marginally.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Tiger isn't healthy enough to play well enough to help the team, anyway. He was out of the Ryder Cup the minute he had back surgery earlier this year. His absence doesn't change the team's chances. They'd be massive underdogs with or without him.
Mike Walker, assistant managing editor, Golf.com (@michaelwalkerjr): The U.S. team can only be worse off without Tiger Woods, especially this year as a heavy underdog on the road. Tiger did the team a favor by announcing his decision so early and removing a potential distraction, but he's easily one of the 12 best American players in the world, and his competitive fire and confidence will be missed. It’s impossible to feel like you have no chance when Tiger is on your team.
Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): Tiger's absence helps the U.S. because there's no way he could've played his best at Gleneagles -- and it was obvious to everyone. His poor play, and the ensuing circus around him, might've sunk a team that's already a heavy underdog. Instead of getting blown out by 6 or more points, I think the U.S now has a great chance to lose by only 4.
Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): Better. Tiger has been no Ryder Cup stalwart. You could argue that the team has been weaker because of him, in part because so much energy has been expended trying to figure out who'd be paired with him. Not a fault of his own, but a reality. His absence also gives the U.S. team still more cause to play the underdog, a role I think the players will welcome.
2. On ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" on Sunday, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News said that the PGA Championship should have waited until Monday for Rory McIlroy to play the 72nd hole, instead of rushing him through it "like the meter was running" while Phil Mickelson still had a real chance of forcing a playoff. Now that you've had a week to digest it, what's your take on how the PGA of America handled the final hole in darkness at Valhalla?
RITTER: It was a messy finish, but I was within earshot of Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler when they chatted on the 18th tee at Valhalla, and it certainly appeared that McIlroy approached Fowler directly with the idea to tee off quickly. Officials intervened only after the players had an agreement. The confusion that followed in the darkness is on the officials, but the players, and Rory specifically, appeared to hatch the plan.
BAMBERGER: Phil and Rickie showed incredible sportsmanship by letting Rory and Bernd tee off. Rory should have spoken directly to Phil and Rickie and said, "What do you want us to do here?" Lacking that, the official should have allowed Phil and Rickie to finish before Rory played his second shot. But the instinct, to get it in on Sunday night, was the right one. The situation was so odd and fast that everybody was caught a little off-guard. But I really don't think it changed anything. Phil nearly made his three -- it had a real chance. Rory seemed determined to finish no matter how dark it got.
SHIPNUCK: It was a s***show. So many ridiculous things coulda happened -- thank goodness Rory didn't blade his sand shot or 3-putt because of the darkness or we would be debating this for eternity, rather than just one more week.
WALKER: Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler should have finished the 18th hole before Rory McIlroy hit his second shot, even if that that meant we had to come back Monday morning. It wasn't fair to Mickelson, who was too gracious to complain about it. Feeling intense pressure to finish the event Sunday, the PGA of America made the wrong call.
SENS: In retrospect, the error was in the initial tee-off times, which pushed the event into the witching hour. Once that mistake had been made, I think it was the better choice to play up and finish on Sunday. I don't think any of the players, Mickelson included, to say nothing of the fans, would have benefited from prolonging the event.
MORFIT: That's one of those things we can debate all we want, but we'll never know how it all would've played out in the daylight Monday morning. (By the way, Monday was the nicest day I saw in Louisville.) My sense of it is that even if Fowler or Mickelson had found a way to make eagle, Rory would have found a way to make birdie and win whether it was Sunday night or Monday morning. You could argue that rushing 18 hurt McIlroy the most, as he was the only one of the three without a good look at eagle or birdie.
VAN SICKLE: It was OK for Rory's group to tee off at 18, but letting him hit up to the green before Mickelson and Fowler finished should've been left to Mickelson and Fowler, not the PGA. No doubt the PGA rushed things because it had egg on its face for not moving up the Sunday tee times with rain in the forecast. I agree that the PGA blew it...again.