PGA Tour Confidential: Els wins British Open after Scott collapses, Tiger fades

July 23, 2012

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.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: O.K., who saw that coming? Seemingly on cruise control, Adam Scott bogeyed his last four holes to hand the British Open to Ernie Els. Most amazing was that Scott, a ball-striking wizard for the better part of 68 holes, bogeyed three of those holes from the middle of the fairway. How do you explain it? Were there tell-tale signs earlier in the round? And what's the one shot over those last four holes that Scott wishes he had over?

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Missing the short putt on the 16th hole was the giveaway. That got Els to within two, and it seemed as if Scott suddenly realized that the game was on.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I didn't see signs that he was blowing it even as he was blowing it. Scott looked calm and collected, he didn't rush through his pre-shot routines, and his misses weren't THAT bad. (He didn't hit a hospitality tent or anything.) I think the shot he'd want over was the three-footer for par on 16, although I think he said it was the approach on 17 that did him in.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Adam Scott was magnificent for 68 holes, but that missed putt on the 16th is going to haunt him. You can't three putt coming down the stretch and hope to win a major championship. There's no way any of us saw it coming, and it was clear that Ernie Els didn't see it coming either.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, I think it was the short putt on 16 that wrecked his psyche. Missing one like that shakes your confidence. Hearing the roar after Els made his putt on 18 probably didn't help much either.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I could see it coming when Scott bogeyed three of the first six holes, or with all the tentative putting strokes he made. There was a certain lack of conviction in his play, and it was his undoing on the closing hole. The shot on 17 was the one that really killed him — he can miss anywhere to the right and have a good shot at saving par but short-side was dead. If he pars 17 he takes the lead to the 18th tee and can play very conservatively from there.

Godich: I also thought the tee shot on 18 was a bit bold. Why a fairway metal there? Why not an iron that takes those bunkers out of play?

Herre: Maybe he thought he needed to make a birdie. If so, big mistake. Tough to play defensively for 17 holes and then suddenly get aggressive.

Garrity: Nick Faldo, who knows about these things, said that he'd have played the iron for exactly that reason. The other option was to be even bolder and blast driver over the bunker, but Scott probably didn't have the stomach for that, even though he'd hit the driver well all week.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: His mind was clearly haywire, and Stevie didn't help. The 3-wood at 18 was the only really dumb choice. Driver could carry the bunkers, like Els did, and an iron is short of them.

Shipnuck: That was an atrocious club-pull on 18, and some of that is one Stevie. You simply have to hit an iron short of those bunkers, as Scott had done earlier in the week. He wanted to hit a fade but turned it over instead — the exact mistake he had just made on 17 and should have been guarding against. The preceding bogeys were physical errors, but 18 was a monumental mental gaffe.

Herre: Yes, hard to figure. Where was Stevie down the stretch? Maybe he was celebrating his 14th major prematurely.

Lipsey: Stevie is still five majors behind Jack and just one behind Woods.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Right up until he missed that last putt I thought he would win. Foresaw another heartbreaking Els meltdown in the playoff.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Scott had the lead for most of the day, but it never felt like he was in control of the tournament. He just kept screwing up less than the other guys. Then he had four holes to hit one clutch shot to end the tournament, and he couldn't do it.

Mick Rouse, contributor: Scott's putting looked shaky all day long, but I agree that 16 was the final giveaway. As for shots he wishes he could have back? How about all of them over the final three holes? A spectacular meltdown considering how well he was playing.

Garrity: I'm with you on all of that Mick, except for the "spectacular" part. I'd call it an "understated meltdown." To be spectacular you have to drive your ball deep into the gorse on 18, as Brandt Snedeker did, or hit your ball into every brand of hazard possible on the closing nine, as Graeme McDowell did. The more I think about it, virtually every contender flamed out more spectacularly than Adam did — but we were no longer paying attention.

Lipsey: Woods was certainly dramatic flaming out, no? That bunker dance was hilarious.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Didn't see any tell-tale signs early in the round. Scott looked so utterly in control that we were halfway done with our headline-writing for him here at (much like the claret jug inscriber). It's hard to say what was going on in his head, but that little putt for par on 16 that lipped out had to have elevated his pulse for the rest of the afternoon. Anyone would struggle to recover from that one.

Godich: Equally bad was the birdie putt on 16. That was either an atrocious yank or a horrible read or a combination of both. No excuse to leave yourself that long of a par attempt.

Hanger: Good point, Mark. That first one on 16 was a doozy. Clearly the nerves were a factor, as were questionable decisions, and we've seen this story before. But also, I think the percentages caught up to him. You can be rock-solid and seem bulletproof for stretches, but eventually everyone hits a rough patch. It's a choke, but also a badly timed market correction. Poor guy. Every golfer has to feel Scott's pain right about now.

Lipsey: Scott earned about $850,000. He's not hurting too bad.

Godich: Adam Scott has won more than $27 million on the PGA Tour alone. This is one time he couldn't care less about the money.

Shipnuck: Right. Scott has already made more money than he can ever spend, no matter how high-maintenance his glamorous girlfriends may be. He wanted the trophy. Needed it, really.

Dusek: When he goes to sleep tonight, I guarantee you Scott won't be thinking about the money. He will be thinking about losing a major championship.

Lipsey: We often say they don't care about the money, but then we hear about these guys touring the globe to pick up appearance fees. Sure, they crave the trophies, but I think the money matters too.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: That ending was just damn hard to watch. Adam Scott is such a nice guy, and I never thought he'd blow it until he hit into the gunch on 17. He later called it the one swing he'd want back.

Shipnuck: I got Stevie alone in the parking lot for a moment, and he was utterly devastated. He couldn't get a word out. He knows what this meant to Scott's career, and to his own.

Lipsey: Imagine trying to play good golf while you feel like you're on a luge going down the ice sheet but falling off the sled. That must've been what Scott felt like. Choking with that mindset is easy to understand.

Garrity: Well said. But here's the thing about choking — you still hit both good and bad shots. Scott hit a bunch of clutch tee shots down the stretch while his pursuers were driving it into the hay or over the spectators' heads. (That would be you, Tiger.) And Ernie had a bit of luck on 16 when his drive settled on the trampled-down grass at the foot of a tent, leaving him a chip to the green. That drive could have found a bunker or the deep rough, and right now we'd be talking about how Ernie handled the playoff.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Were you surprised to see Scott collapse over the final holes? What shot do you think was the turning point?


Godich: Sure, he had a lot help, but it would be unfair not to give Ernie Els his due. On a day when all of the other contenders were going backward, Els, six shots back at the turn, came home in four-under 32. I would argue that this tournament was as much about Ernie's fortitude as it was about Scott's collapse. What say ye? And what impressed you most about Ernie's play?

Herre: I'm happy for Els. He's been grinding all year. But this one fell into his lap.

Godich: Maybe so, but he didn't miss a shot on the back nine. A lot of guys, especially someone with multiple majors, would have packed it in. It fell into his lap, but only because he kept grinding.

Dusek: Jim, I totally agree that this championship fell into Ernie's lap, but I think the key is that he was there to catch it. In some ways it's very similar to the way Geoff Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Morfit: Well said about being there to catch it. That's the way a lot of majors are won, including Keegan's at the PGA last year. Dufner's late bogey train was very similar to Scott's. Amazing how fast things changed in the last hour today.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was also much like Stewart Cink at Turnberry, and G-Mac at at Pebble Beach.

Reiterman: For all the abuse he's taken about his putting, Ernie stepped up and slammed that putt into the hole. That's what impressed me.

Rouse: I was most impressed that Ernie was able to come back after some near misses this year and being left out of the Masters.

Ritter: Ernie may have backed into this one, but that final putt on 18 was all guts. Considering many folks, including the majority of this panel, more or less wrote him off after he gagged at the Transitions earlier this year, seeing him lift the jug really is a shocker. Good for him.

Gorant: He just hung around and then made a move when he needed to. He said the bogey at 9 pissed him off, and he got very aggressive after that, hitting driver, trying to make birdies. It worked.

Dusek: What impressed me most was Ernie's not giving up, either at Royal Lytham and St. Annes or over the past two or three years. All of us, myself included, are guilty of writing him off to some degree because of the shaky putting. But he looked damn sure that ball was going in on 18, and when it dropped I felt good for him.

Shipnuck: How about that bump-and-run between the bunkers on 16? That was Seve-esque. Els didn't convert the putt, but that's the best shot I saw anyone hit all week. Pure talent, plus wonderful imagination.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Ernie definitely won the tournament. Of course he had help, but he knew exactly what he needed to do as he stood over that 15-footer for birdie on 18. It was especially impressive as we've seen him miss quite a few putts in the past year from that range and shorter.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What impressed you most about Els's victory?

Godich: Cynics would suggest that Scott's collapse was payback from the golf gods for a favorable ruling he received next to the seventh green. Scott took a couple of practice swings, and after he walked onto the green to survey his shot, the ball rolled a couple of feet. The referee with the group ruled that Scott was not subject to a penalty because he wasn't near the ball when it moved. Based on your understanding of the rule, did the referee get it right?

Herre: I'm no expert, but he had not addressed the ball before it moved. He had only taken a couple of practice swing nearby. So I think no penalty was the correct call. (Regardless of what Azinger said.)

Dusek: I agree, Jim. Clearly nothing Adam Scott did directly resulted in the ball moving, so he shouldn't be penalized.

Shipnuck: The wind was a more a likely culprit. It didn't look like Scott caused the ball to move, and it would have been tragic to tag him with a questionable penalty and so thoroughly affect the outcome. In this case it was prudent to err on the side of the player.

Hanger: Erring on the side of the player — now that's a standard I think officials should employ more often. No way to definitively pin that movement on Scott's actions, so logic says the decision was just.

Gorant: How many times did Azinger flip flop on rules callings today, including the taking-a-drop-out-of-the-bunker thing? Then he rips people on Twitter for questioning the ruling. He keeps it interesting, but he's a clown.

Wei: There's a lot of gray area here, and it depends on whether you want to give the player the benefit of the doubt, but I think the ref got it right. Scott hadn't addressed the ball and wasn't anywhere near it when it moved.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should Scott have been hit with a penalty, or did the official on the scene get it right?

Godich: Another major, another champion using a long putter. Els won with a belly model. Scott should've won with his broomstick. Everyone has weighed in on what they think about long putters, but the question is this: Will golf's governing bodies make a rule change? Or are these things here to stay?

Herre: Sounds like some folks at the R&A think the "anchoring" aspect of the long putters makes them non-conforming, since that gives a player the ability to lean on the putter to steady himself on a windy day. But frankly, I think that ship has sailed.

Shipnuck: In chatting this week with the USGA's Mike Davis and a couple of R&A stuffed shirts, it sounds like they will not ban long putters but will outlaw anchoring the club to the body. So Scott, for example, could still use his broomstick but not press it against his chest; he'd have to change his style but not his wand.

Garrity: That would be an ingenious solution. Would it also frustrate Bernhard Langer's old method of holding the putter against his left forearm?

Reiterman: Young, athletic golfers using belly putters has never looked right to me. I hope they ban the belly.

Van Sickle: I'm not sure who's going to enforce that or decide if something's anchored. If it's touching your shirt or jacket, is it anchored? Can you tell from 20 feet away if a guy has it anchored or not? Am I going to have to keep an eye on a guy to see if he's cheating on every stroke? The USGA doesn't usually tell you how to play the game, except for the ban on sidesaddle putting. (By the way, what's really wrong with that?) At a time when players are leaving the game in droves, they shouldn't be banning a club that is making the game easier/more fun for average hacks. A ban would also be an admission that the USGA and R&A are 15 years behind everyone else, as usual.

Morfit: I thought it was interesting that Harrington said if someone invented the long putter and tried to get it approved now, there's no way it would make it.

Lipsey: Gary's right. Such a rule could create a huge interpretation problem. What happens when a guy twitches while putting and the handle hits his chest? Trying to compromise on this could be messy. Millions of everyday hackers could revolt. We'll have Occupy the USGA!


Wei: Word around The Open was that anchoring will be banned. I smell trouble for some players who haven't putted with a standard putter in years and whose careers have been revived by the long putter.

Hanger: I wish they wouldn't ban the putter or anchoring, but it's starting to sound like the R&A is going to tackle this. Hopefully they'll leave us amateurs out of it and only focus on serious players in serious competitions.

Herre: That's bifurcation. The R&A and USGA are not in favor of that.

Hanger: It is bifurcation, but that's what's happened with grooves, effectively. There's no rule against us hackers playing the "illegal" grooves until, what, 2024?

Dusek: They're not in favor of it, but that doesn't change the fact that it is clearly needed. Rounds played and participation numbers are not exactly surging. Why should the governing bodies make the game harder at the amateur level because professional players can take advantage of technology more effectively than weekend players?

Van Sickle: The R&A and USGA are steadfastly against bifurcated rules, even though we currently have them on grooves. If they allow anchored putting for ams, bifurcated rules are here to stay.

Lipsey: The governing bodies should be telling people to call Maxwell Smart and use any contraption he can conjure up. The game needs every round it can get. Ask any pro or golf course owner.

Dusek: I have a feeling that purists and traditionalists are going to have their way, and at some point in the next few years they will be banned. It will be the wrong decision, but I think they'll do it anyway.

Shipnuck: I'm starting to soften my stance on the long putters. Putting is inherently emasculating — think of Arnie hunched over, pigeon-toed, elbows akimbo. Scott looks almost regal by comparison, standing tall to the ball.

Gorant: What did Hogan say? "There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground."

Rouse: My only issue is what would happen to victories by players who have already won with long/belly putters. Would they suddenly have an asterisk next to those wins? If the governing bodies were going to ban them, they should have done it a long time ago.

Gorant: Yes, a rule change would be equivalent to outright saying that those accomplishments are not equal.

Shipnuck: One some level, putting is just putting. Tour players use all kinds of weird grips and stances and putters — why is one style so much more evil? I'm over it.

Godich: Good point, Alan. Might as well outlaw cross-handed putting while we're at it.

Gorant: Opponents like Tiger say that anchoring takes the art and skill out of putting. You're not "swinging the club."

Shipnuck: Not swinging the club? Then how does it move back and forth? Is it battery-operated?

Dusek: The real trouble here is that everything is anecdotal. We do not know, for a fact, that anchoring a putter to your body makes it easier to put the ball in the hole. I hope the governing bodies produce a long-term study that actually gives evidence one way or the other. Having taken this long to potentially make a change, the USGA and R&A may have done a pretty major disservice to young professionals, collegiate players and serious junior golfers who are already using belly and long putters … but may soon have to change.

Gorant: Anchoring certainly didn't seem to help Scott too much down the stretch.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will the R&A ban belly putters, or do you think they are here to stay?

Godich: Els was ever-gracious in his post-round comments, saying Scott would win a lot of majors. But Scott turned 32 on the Monday before the tournament, and you have to wonder how this collapse will affect him the next time he gets in the hunt at a major. What's your gut telling you? Will Scott win a major? Or in a half-dozen years will we talking about him the same way we talk about Lee Westwood?

Shipnuck: Westwood is a good comparison. Scott has similarly learned to raise his game for the majors, as this was his fourth top-10 in the last two years. But winning these things often comes down to pulling off one spectacular shot at the most critical time — think Bubba at Augusta — and so far these guys haven't shown the flair or fortitude to get it done. I think that's something you're born with, not something you can learn.

Van Sickle: Putting is the most important element of winning. Scott isn't a good putter, not even with the broomstick. For all the talk about how it changed his game, he ranked 143rd in putting last year. If he doesn't win a major, it'll be for the same reason that Westwood hasn't won one — putting under pressure on the weekend.

Gorant: Are we assuming he'll be allowed to keep using the broomstick? If yes, then I think he has a great chance, which is different from saying he will.

Hanger: Good point on the putter. If they take away his long wand, I think he's screwed.

Dusek: In this day of parity, I think guys are only going to get so many chances to win major championships. Obviously this was a great one for Scott, so I worry that he may have burned the best one he's ever going to get. Maybe a major championship will fall into his lap the way this one did for Ernie, but I have a feeling that Adam Scott is not going to win one.

Herre: On some levels Westwood is an apt comparison. Great ball strikers, suspect short games. Sooner or later the short game is gonna get ya. However, odds are Scott will win his major because, as Els said, he's simply too talented not to. He'll be in contention many times in the future, so his odds are good. Yet I doubt he wins a bunch of them. Westwood has had many chances and has just been unlucky. Time may be running out on him.

Lipsey: Y.E. Yang, Paul Lawrie, Ben Curtis, et. al. Huge talent is obviously not a prerequisite for winning a major.

Shipnuck: Right, look at some of the jabronis who have won majors this century: Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton, Michael Freaking Campbell. Scott has way more game than any of these guys.

Hanger: And conversely, there are great players, like Monty, who never won one.

Rouse: If Scott stays healthy and hungry, there's no reason he can't win a major. Sometimes it just takes being in the right place at the right time.

Garrity: I'm guessing that Scott will not follow Monty or Westwood. I think he'll take the Phil Mickelson route. He'll eventually win one, and if he wins one, he'll win two or three.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will Scott win a major someday?

Godich: As aggressive as Els was in attacking off the tee at Royal Lytham, Tiger Woods was equally defensive — off the tee and on the greens. Frankly, I was stunned by how far back Tiger left himself on many of the par-4s, especially when he needed to make a move on Sunday. Did Tiger outthink himself? How do you explain it?

Lipsey: The process is all about the process, and the process will yield the desired results. Just give the process time to process itself to fruition.

Gorant: It was good enough for 67s on Thursday and Friday. One more of those on Sunday and he wins.

Herre: I thought he had a good game plan, one that has worked for him in the past. His problem, in my opinion, was failing to get close when he had opportunities from 150 yards and in. The triple from the pot bunker could've happened to anyone.

Van Sickle: The Anonymous Pro nailed it in our preview: Tiger is a C at best from inside 140 yards. Swing is too steep, divots too big — even Azinger and the TV guys started talking about that.

Morfit: Agree. Tiger's just not as handy with the "scoring clubs" as he was in his prime, and whether or not he'll ever get that back is an open question. Steve Flesch had an insightful tweet, that Tiger's new swing de-lofts the club when he's got a wedge in his hands, thus the problems with distance control. I noticed that problem at Olympic, too. It's subtle, but he doesn't hit it tight that much anymore.

Dusek: I don't think Tiger Woods out-thought himself this week. I think he failed to execute his game plan well enough. Obviously it didn't work out for him on Sunday, but the biggest take-away for me is that he has a lot more faith in his iron game than he does in his driver.

Wei: I love that aggressive golf was rewarded in the end. Ernie hit driver on 16 every day, which is arguably not worth it when it comes to risk-reward. But his caddie said that Ernie teed off with an iron in '96 and pulled it into a pot bunker, which may have cost him the win, so this time he just decided to bomb it.

Shipnuck: The explanation is that he is swinging the driver with fear, especially if he has to move the ball right-to-left. "Gameplan" is code word for capitulation. Avoiding the pot bunkers was certainly paramount, but even as good as Woods is with his mid- and long-irons, he can't be spotting the rest of the field 50-70 yards on so many par-4s.

Godich: Right. And to hear him talk (and we did, time and again), how many times was he "one yard" from stuffing an approach shot? At the third hole on Saturday, that "one yard" was a good 10 paces short of the green. And if he thought the approach at the sixth that led to the triple on Sunday was a yard from perfect…

Hanger: But the thing is, he did spot them those yards, and it worked until the disastrous triple. If he makes par there, he would have been in perfect position to make a move down the stretch, and maybe then he would have pulled out the driver when he really needed the distance.

Lipsey: This isn't hand grenades or horseshoes. Tiger's gameplan, like Alan said, was capitulation. He didn't have what it took to get the job done. He might win the next 12 majors, but for now, he's got majoritis.

Hanger: Don't disagree. I'm just saying that capitulation damn near worked.

Godich: He was already four back when he made the triple, so tough to say it was working. I don't care who you are, you're asking for a lot of good fortune when you're hitting shots from 200 or more yards on a links course.

Hanger: Fair enough, but that's still just a 7-iron for these guys.

Shipnuck: I wrote Saturday night, when Woods was six under, that he felt he was close to the winning number, and it turned out to be seven under. So playing small-ball early in the round made a certain amount of sense. But after the triple he had so much ground to make up, and he was still wary of hitting driver. I can't believe he didn't pull it at 13; he could have driven the green with one great swing. He was five under at that point but laid up off the tee and made a brutal bogey. Game over.

Hanger: Yeah, once he made that triple, he should've gone for broke on every hole. Nothing to lose at that point.

Garrity: Tiger's Hoylake strategy worked well for five holes, but the triple-bogey on 6 blew that up. He needed birdies in bunches to make up the lost ground, but he couldn't make them from 200-plus yards in a gusty wind. The sad part is, he stopped hitting fairways coming in, even with the irons. No telling where he would have hit it with his driver.

Gorant: We'll learn a lot about where he is with his driver at Bridgestone. You have to hit it there, and there are lots of problems if you can't hit it straight.

Lipsey: That's a laid-back money grab, so he might be so relaxed that he'll shred the fairways. The PGA at Kiawah, especially if the gales blow, that could be a test.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Did Tiger out-think himself on Sunday? Were you surprised he didn't make a serious run at the leaders?


Godich: After being defenseless for three days, Royal Lytham finally showed its teeth on Sunday. What were your impressions of the course in the rota that our anonymous pro called the stepchild of British Open venues? And would you like to see the tournament go back there?

Herre: The Open will return to Lytham, which is a terrific course. I think the Anonymous Pro doesn't like the place because he once got a crappy hotel room there.

Van Sickle: I like a course where the greens have so little break, players can't tell if it's moving two inches right or two inches left. That's the definition of subtlety, and it drives the best players in the world nuts. It just shows you how superior some of these old designs are compared to the buried elephant mounds that Nicklaus and Dye foist on the public. It's a very good test, just a bit dull looking. Nothing wrong with that. Can anyone say Pinehurst?

Morfit: Els and Scott did so well in part because the greens are so flat here. Ricky Roberts came here three weeks ago and got so excited to see the place again that he called Els on the spot. He knew Ernie would be able to give everything a run without fear of the ball zooming five feet by the hole.

Lipsey: I say ditch it. It's a nice course, but let's have some true links, real seaside stuff with twists and turns and big swales and the rest. No way this is one of the greatest links they have to offer.

Shipnuck: It was boring, defensive golf, but that's not Lytham's fault, it's the R&A's. Equipment has rendered these old links, with their fast fairways, totally obsolete. Just like the USGA's failures turned Olympic into a boring slog. Augusta National and Bethpage and Oakmont are probably the only major venues where driver must be hit, and it's the club that demands the most skill and helps identify the best player. To have guys hitting 6-irons off the tee is an incomplete examination.

Garrity: Visually, Royal Lytham is a dud. It only looks good from a blimp. But it's a terrific test of golf, and I'd hate to see it dropped from the rota. I'd put it and Royal St. George's in the once-a-decade category.

Shipnuck: To protect Lytham, the R&A resorted to a bunch of hokey pin placements, and that ridiculous, unplayable rough, which negates shotmaking. Links courses are supposed to be wide-open canvases that encourage shotmaking and different angles of attack, not tight, penal, claustrophobic courses that force every competitor to play from the same spot.

Lipsey: Except for a few instances (Tiger's pot bunker adventure, for example), watching this Open was like watching Bay Hill or the Honda.

Dusek: I would love to see the course get another Open because the weather this year made it too docile for the first three days. I don't want to see one train wreck after another, but it didn't feel like a proper British Open, and that has more to do with the weather than the course.

Shipnuck: Just to hammer the point home, the speed of the fairways made Lytham play about 6,400 yards, maybe less. To actually force the modern golfer to have a few proper three-shot par-5s and hit mid- to long-irons into a handful of par-4s, a course needs to be 8,500 yards, maybe longer. I'm completely serious. The USGA and R&A have failed the game, and it is becoming increasingly obvious as one major championship venue after another forces a bastardized kind of pitch-and-putt golf.

Wei: I loved it, and it got rave reviews from the players, too. Sure, there are a lot of bunkers, but what I loved was that every bunker had a purpose, and if you hit it in one, you were penalized. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing Open course, but it produces worthy champions, starting with Bobby Jones in '26. In the 11 Opens held here, the winners have all been ranked No. 1 in the world at some point or inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. How many venues can you say that about?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Should the British Open return to Royal Lytham and St. Annes?

Godich: Finally, time to look into your crystal ball. In the last 16 majors, we've had 16 different champions. Look ahead to next month's PGA Championship at Kiawah and tell me which of those 16 players will end the run of non-repeat winners. And give me the name of the player most likely to extend the streak to 17.

Herre: Good question. Anyone notice how Bubba Watson played at Lytham? Everyone said he had no shot, but he finished 23rd. I like how he's trending. As for a first-timer, I'll go with The Duf. He had it going at Lytham until being derailed by some unfortunate circumstances on Saturday.

Hanger: I'm starting to feel about predictions the way Garrity does, especially after reading his story of the crystal balls at Blackpool. Smart money is on Karlsson at the PGA.

Reiterman: Zach Johnson is your 2012 PGA champion.

Garrity: Dang, I was going to take Johnson. I'm finally giving up on Robert Karlsson, so I need a new man-for-all-majors. For the next first-time winner, give me Nick Watney.

Dusek: I love the way Graeme McDowell is playing right now, and if we get a howler of a week in South Carolina, I think he'd feel right at home. As for another breakthrough winner, I'll take Matt Kuchar.

Ritter: I agree with Dave. McDowell is getting himself into contention in majors again, and Kiawah will probably be a links-like test. For a breakthrough candidate, I'll take Fowler.

Gorant: Davis Love.

Shipnuck: I'm starting to lose faith in G-Mac after back-to-back shaky Sundays when he could've bagged his second major, but he's a brawler and I think he'll be incredibly focused at the PGA. Also, he actually plays better when it's windy, which it will be at the Ocean Course. For a first-timer I'll take The Duf. He's putting together a nice resume' in the majors, and his brand of ball-control will be key on such a penal track.

Lipsey: Tiger's the man who'll take it to 17, if it goes there. Dustin Johnson is another possibility, because he might get juiced about playing in his home state. If it's one of the 16 prior winners, I'll take Webb. He's going to punch his WGHOF early-bird special ticket.

Rouse: I could see Keegan Bradley breaking the streak and winning again, or Martin Kaymer. To keep it going? Hunter Mahan.

Wei: Zach Johnson or Brandt Snedeker, two quality guys who usually play well in the wind.

Morfit: I agree with Garrity's point that predicting majors is pointless. Now, as for dreaming about the major winner, Van Sickle came very, very close when he had his vision about Scott. As soon as scientists make a few adjustments to his sleep cycle, we'll have the greatest golf breakthrough since the backward putter.

Van Sickle: I'll take Jason Dufner, because why the hell not?

Morfit: I think I still have time to make a bet before my flight leaves.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Who's most likely to end the run of new winners? Who's most likely to continue the trend and win his first career major?