PGA Tour Confidential: Jason Dufner wins the PGA Championship
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. Jason Dufner did it all this week: tied the major scoring record on Friday and played nearly flawless pressure golf on Sunday to win by two. What impressed you most about Dufner this week?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I love his swing, and that he's not static before he hits the ball, but what impressed me most about him this week was how straight he hit it and how crazy accurate he was with his irons Sunday. I'm sure it's happened before, but I don't know if I've ever seen a guy have three tap-in birdies when he's in contention on the final day of a major.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: You have to be impressed with The Duff's total command of his ball-striking and his swing. He didn't miss many shots in four rounds. He was so comfortable in his swing that the pressure never bothered him. The putter, now that's a different story.
Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Golf.com His ball-striking and unflappable demeanor under pressure was impressive, but his ability to marry out of his league was truly outstanding.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: His play on Sunday. That was a ball-striking clinic. Considering that the longest birdie putt he made was about four feet and the pressure he was playing under, I would argue that his final-round 68 was every bit as good as his Friday 63.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The thing that impresses me most was how Dufner kept his game-face on. Calling Oscar!
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: The irons he hit on Sunday were just so good — it seemed like he never had to sweat over a five-footer all day long.
Joe Passov, senior editor, travel, Golf Magazine: He looked so much like he did in 2011 and 2012, it made me wonder where on earth he has been in 2013. What impressed me most were the super-solid drives he struck late in the round, especially because he wasn't able to draw on recent successes. Given the nightmare finish he endured at the 2011 PGA, this was great stuff.
2. With Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner all off the board in 2013, who is the best player without a major?
Godich: It's still Lee Westwood. He's just too good a ball-striker to still be on the outside looking in.
Ritter: Steve Stricker was somewhere on this list for a number of years, and even though he's now 46 and working a limited schedule, he finished top-20 in each of the three majors he played this year. He's moved to the top of my list, but there's also a co-leader: Jason Day. Check out Day's major season: Masters, 3rd. U.S. Open T2, British T32, PGA T8. He's still only 25 and has plenty of time — Stricker's another story.
Lynch: Lee Westwood. Unless we're counting the Sean Foley-era Tiger as a different player to the Tiger of the Butch Harmon and Hank Haney eras. If we are, it's him.
Van Sickle: The best player without a major, based on current form, might be Henrik Stenson, although his run has been recent. I could make a case for Jason Day, too, who needs to work on finishing better in the big events. But I'm going with two-time 2013 winner Matt Kuchar despite his weekend plummet here. He's like Johnny Carson, he'll be right back.
Bamberger: Westwood. By a nose over Garcia. Unless it's the other way around.
Passov: Ten years ago, Sergio Garcia had so much talent and so much potential, it's almost impossible to think he hasn't won one of these. Too much head case, I guess.
Morfit: I'm actually going to elevate Henrik Stenson to that list, bumping Lee Westwood from the top spot. Stenson finished solo second at the British and solo third at the PGA. The guy is a terror, tee to green, and he's back from a major mid-career slump.
3. Tiger Woods is 5 for 7 in regular Tour event this season and 0-4 at the majors. What's the main reason for the drop-off in his play at the game's biggest events?
Bamberger: The hydrant.
Van Sickle: The majors had fearsome rough and as good as he is out of it, Tiger was simply in it too often.
Morfit: I thought the majors were in his head. There seemed to be no other way to explain it. He wins five times, on major-worthy golf courses (Torrey), and yet can't get it done the four most important weeks of the year? But then I watched him play with nothing on the line Sunday and he wasn't sharp, so it's definitely not all in his head. I think he's a much more fragile player now in that his hot streaks don't last as long as they used to.
Lynch: He drives it crooked and short, and that's a lousy combination in the majors, but not as crippling in regular Tour events. He also putts worse and his short game is woefully inconsistent. But his weekend scoring in the big events has become so mediocre that its hard not to conclude there's a mental block at play, too.
Passov: You can talk about putting technique, lack of aggressiveness and loss of length relative to the field until you're blue in the face, but is it possible that even Tiger Woods is susceptible to the ever-present, almost suffocating pressure that accompanies his every swing in a major?
Ritter: He was good enough to win five times this year, so it's hard to fault the swing, the technique or the preparation. That leaves health and the mental game. I think his elbow killed him at Merion, but when Woods gets inside the ropes at these majors, he just doesn't look the same. Putting was his biggest problem, especially those 4-8 footers you've gotta make to win these things.
Godich: Tiger knows he only has four of these shots a year. As a result, he puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on himself. He wants it too badly.
4. With 16 wins and one major, is Jim Furyk going to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame? Should he?
Godich: If Fred Couples can get in with 15 PGA Tour victories (including one major), why doesn't Furyk merit election?
Passov: If Raymond Floyd has a vote, no, Furyk shouldn't get in. By current standards, however, he's a shoe-in.
Bamberger: With 16 wins and one major, no. But when the scoreboard totals are all in, he'll have more, maybe in both categories, and he will get it in. And by Fred Standard, deserves to. I also anticipate a fruitful post-50 career, and majors there count, or I think they should.
Ritter: Borderline. Furyk's credentials aren't that different from Fred Couples, but Couples won two Players Championships and had more success in the international team events. Plus — nothing against Fuyrk — Couples had a Cool Factor that made him part of the game's history, which I think also elevated him into the Hall. Furyk probably gets in, but one more major would make him a lock.
Lynch: His record is just as good, if not better, than that of Fred Couples, who got into the Hall this year. He's already a lock since the bar has been lowered. Anyway, Colin Montgomerie got in with zero majors and zero U.S. Tour wins, so what is left for satire when it comes to the Hall of Fame?
Van Sickle: The Hall of Fame is a moot point. By inducting four or five candidates every year in order to have a TV show on Golf Channel, the PGA Tour is effectively insuring that everybody who's even worth considering will be swept in over time. Do you really think there are 50 or 60 golfers who should be enshrined every decade? Reason might argue that Furyk, like Fred Couples, isn't Hall-worthy at first glance. Ditto for Mark O'Meara and Davis Love. But they're all going to get in whether we think they should or not if this keeps up. The Hall of Fame should immediately go to every-other-year voting and slow the pace of inductees for the good of the Hall.
Morfit: Yeah, Furyk will get in. And I actually think he played pretty well today — no shame in losing to a guy who played as well as Dufner did. Should Furyk get in? Based on the criteria and his accomplishments I don't see why not.
5. Furyk stared into the gallery after a fan yelled something after his tee shot on the 16th hole Sunday. What can the PGA Tour and tournament organizers do to stop the yelling after every tee shot? Should they do anything?
Lynch: Start with tasers, liberally applied. We're used to players with rabbit ears backing off and hushing fans unreasonably. But should we have a major event determined by a halfwit who maxes out his intellectual credit limit by opening his mouth and bellowing "mashed potato" as a player swings? Toss him. But taser him first.
Van Sickle: I'm surprised someone hasn't shouted out their own name just to hear it picked up by the TV microphones in this age of vanity. Tasers would be a good deterrent. But this is the price you pay for having crowds. I don't see it as stoppable.
Morfit: It's getting ridiculous. People will do anything to be heard, to be recognized. But I'm not sure what can really be done about it except to close off the TV microphones after a guy hits a shot. That'll never happen. And what can tournament organizers do, go on a witch hunt for the guy saying, "Baba Booey?" I don't think so.
Passov: The Phoenix Open-ization of golf has many supporters, in terms of growing the game. The garden -party atmosphere is long gone. I honestly can't believe there are so many idiots out there that just want to hear their own voices bellowing "mashed potatoes" on the playback later on. But what are you going to do about them? Stop serving booze at golf events? Not gonna happen.
Ritter: Unfortunate that it happened, but part of today's game. Hopefully the marshals caught the knucklehead and tossed him.
Bamberger: Throw them out. It's unseemly. It's not golf. If it becomes golf than golf will not be golf. Self-restraint is part of golf, for the player and fan both.
Godich: Good luck with that one. I've always wondered what those knuckleheads say to their friends and colleagues: "Did you hear me at the 16th tee on Sunday?"
6. Greg Norman says that Fox offered him Johnny Miller's job as lead analyst at the U.S. Open when Fox takes over the broadcast in 2015. Would Norman make a good TV analyst? If it was your decision, who would you hire?
Passov: On the one hand, Norman has serious cred, not just for his playing record, good and bad, but for his breadth of knowledge about the game, from golf swings to equipment to course design, and for his lone-wolf battle against Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour for a World Tour concept way back when. That said, I'll take Brandel Chamblee in a heartbeat. He's the most concise, articulate and opinionated analyst in the game right now.
Bamberger: Norman could become good. He would have to get over himself. Faldo has, to a degree. Jim (Bones) Mackay would be excellent. So would Brandel. Best of all would be Trevino. I don't care how old he is.
Morfit: I'd keep Miller in for a while until I was sure Norman really wanted to do it the way it needs to be done. I get a sense that he's like Brandel Chamblee and Miller in that he wouldn't be desperate to be the players' friend, in which case he could grow into the role nicely, but it's not the kind of thing where you just sit down and you're great at it right away.
Godich: I can't get too excited about Norman. I'm not sure I wouldn't stick with Miller. But I am nominating Gus Johnson as the play-by-play guy.
Lynch: Norman is certainly a man of strong opinions, but that doesn't always make for a good announcer. Exhibit A: Lanny Wadkins. I'd be curious to see how he does, but I suspect Norman wouldn't want to work many events. That's fine if Fox Sports only plans to broadcast the USGA events, but if the network has more ambitious plans in the golf world, he may not be the right fit. Johnny hasn't lost his fastball in the booth. Someone will hire him.
Ritter: Norman should be good, but I'd hire Phil Mickelson. Of course, Phil will probably play in the next five U.S. Opens — at least — but I'd try to get his name on a contract to work the booth starting in 2019.
Van Sickle: Norman was always opinionated as a player. He may have potential as an analyst. Obviously, after dropping close to $1 billion, Fox needs to hire the splashiest name it can, whether he's a good analyst or not. I'd try to get Paul Azinger or Brandel Chamblee, or see if I could pry Johnny Miller loose from his NBC contract. The era of the banal golf commentator is over. This is the entertainment business now.