Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the U.S. Open in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: What do you make of Rory’s closing double bogey — a meaningless stumble, a harbinger of another major meltdown, a useful attention-getter that will refocus him or something else entirely?
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It opened a can of worms that he sure as heck didn’t want to open.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I think it’s an attention-getter. What was it that Nicklaus told McIlroy? Don’t make mistakes. Rory forgot that at 18 and was too aggressive off the tee. Otherwise he was nearly flawless. The way Rory is playing, I don’t see him making that kind of mistake again.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I think it’ll be useful because it was a slight hook — a less extreme version of the shot that derailed him on No. 10 at Augusta — and it happened early enough for him to correct it.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: I think it was good for him. He was clearly feeling a little invincible with those aggressive shots. Making double might keep Rory on the straight and narrow the next two days. Play with confidence, but know when you have to take your medicine — a crucial part of any successful U.S. Open.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was helpful. The last thing you want to be at a U.S. Open is overconfident. A renewed respect for the course should help Rory avoid similar blowups on the weekend. Put it this way: a few bogeys here and there won’t really hurt him. If he can stay away from doubles/others, it’s hard to imagine him not winning.
John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: It’s a sign that the Masters taught Rory a valuable lesson — that you can’t “protect” a lead. He has to keep playing confidently and aggressively. He didn’t get to 13 under by playing timidly, and he won’t win the trophy if he focuses on avoiding mistakes.
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: It was a trivial mistake. I barely blinked. I was just disappointed he didn’t shoot back-to-back 65s (or a 64). This week’s Rory is different from the one we saw at Augusta. If it’s possible, he’s matured quite a bit in two months and continues to learn from past mistakes.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: The double bogey is the best thing that could have happened to Rory. He had a 10-shot lead and was lapping the field, but going into the lake will remind him to stay in the present, that any hole out here can bite him, and that he’s still got 36 holes to play.
Lipsey: I never knew a double bogey could be a good thing.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It was the best thing that could have happened to him. That was too easy for 35 holes. The hiccup will get his attention and get him refocused. I’m going to say it now: This thing is over.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: I don’t know about that, Mark. Rory’s been awesome, but he also tore Augusta apart for 54 holes before the meltdown. Big numbers can pile up faster at a U.S. Open than at the Masters. I’d like to see Rory finish it off — it would also be great for golf — but this thing isn’t over yet.
Alan Bastable, senior editor, Golf Magazine: One thing’s for sure: Rory didn’t take it lightly. I was down near the 18th green when he finished up, and he was visibly hot, barely looking up to acknowledge the gallery on the long hike back to the scorer’s tent. So, yes, my best guess is that the slip-up refocused him.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It’s a sign that he’s not stepping off the gas no matter how far ahead he is. I would have hit out right to take the water out of play, but he thought from that angle and lie that he could play to the middle of green. I don’t think this will have much impact on his psyche going into tomorrow, but if this were Saturday night he might feel a little different.
Gorant: I agree with Jeff. His problem at Augusta was that when he started thinking about it, he hit it left, which is what he did on both those shots at 18. Did he start thinking about a 64? Can he avoid thinking for the rest of the weekend? I’d like to see him prevail, but I don’t think it’s a done deal yet.
Godich: So after 35 holes of near-flawless golf, we’re going to focus on one bad tee shot and a slight pull on his second shot? I’d have been more concerned if he had parred 18.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Remember what Westwood said after Augusta: Rory has a pull-hook in his bag under pressure. It’s a hiccup, though. We’re watching a coronation this weekend, not a golf tournament.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated It was just one hole of 72. The U.S. Open is a difficult challenge. Few make it 72 holes without a double bogey. I think it means Rory is human, although that double was pretty much the only way you could tell after the way he played the first 35 holes.