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.
3. The USGA brought the hammer down and banned anchoring. Agree or disagree? Either way, for the good of the game, should the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and PGA of America comply, or is bifurcation acceptable?
Van Sickle: No surprise on the putting ban. The czars of golf had already decided what they'd do before the discussion period and weren't going to change their minds. The PGA Tour and PGA of America should do what they think is best for their business because, hey, they are in business. Only the USGA is in this for fun. It's a perfect time for bifurcation, which can be a win-win for everybody ultimately. But I'm not confident it will happen.
Chamblee: No surprise at the USGA's decision to go forward with the anchor ban and I believe at the professional level it was the right thing to do, although long overdue as it should've have never been allowed. I think the USGA and the R&A missed a perfect opportunity to make allowances for the differences between amateurs and professionals. In baseball, the aluminum bat that amateurs are allowed to use has a higher COR or rebound effect than the wooden bat that professionals must use, owing for the differences in skill. In golf, most amateurs can not swing hard enough to get the rebound effect in clubs that the professionals get. Two sets of rules, would allow amateurs to use anchored putters, have a higher COR in their clubs and hotter golf balls and simultaneously allow for the gradual scaling back of the COR in professional clubs and slow down the ball. The application of these two sets of rules would make it possible to draw courses back to lengths that long ago where abandoned. As for the PGA Tour, LPGA and PGA of America, I have never understood why a sport would not make its own rules, and this anchored issued has made more obvious my reservations in that regard.
Morfit: The whole deal is so unfortunate because Mike Davis and company are trying to basically unscramble an omelet after years of lassitude and permissiveness by an ineffectual USGA. Glad they're doing something but Tim Clark missing all those putts at Colonial on Sunday sort of made the argument against the ban.
Bamberger: The ruling bodies did the right thing. Two sets of rules is fine as long as the rules are easier for the ams than the pros.
Gorant: I'm not passionate about it but I think it's the right call and I think the others should follow along. No matter what, it sounds like it will get ugly.
Lynch: I'm totally in favor of it. If your nerves aren't being tested — and anchoring the club removes the nerve endings from the equation — then I don't think it's a legitimate swing. That said, this anchoring ban has almost no impact at a grassroots level. The biggest issue in the game is slow play, and the man who has to take a lead in that is Tim Finchem, by penalizing and DQ'ing guilty Tour pros who set that example. But I'm not holding my breath.
Ritter: Still disagree with the ban because there's no data to support that anchoring the club creates an unfair advantage. I'm sure most pros have at least tinkered with a belly putter, but in reality the technique has only helped a small (but admittedly growing) percentage of guys. The ban was the USGA's move to eradicate a putting style they thought looked unseemly, and that would've been fine if they'd done it a decade ago. I do think the PGA Tour and PGA of America will comply with the ban, but we can't completely rule out legal action from a player, or group of pros, as a Hail Mary. This story isn't over yet.
Reiterman: I agree with it. I've always thought it looked silly, and I seriously doubt this will stop people from playing the game. I've always been a fan of playing by the same rules as the pros, so I can't imagine the other golfing bodies not following the USGA.
Godich: I'd fill a lot more comfortable with the decision if the USGA could produce some statistical evidence that players gain an advantage by anchoring. Just one stat! We haven't heard the end of this.
4. Boo Weekley continued his return to form and won at Colonial while looking like he walked out of a Jimmy Buffett song. Who is your all-time favorite quirky character in golf?
Chamblee: Walter Hagen won 11 majors and lived royally and I've never read that his personality was for show. He seemed to be as good a player as he was a character and in the process he elevated the status of the professional golfer in this country. He doesn't seem to get his due either for his golf or good-natured genius.
Reiterman: Boo has to be right up there. He once fought an orangutan. He can make alligator calls. And who can ever forget him at the Ryder Cup galloping down the fairway on his driver, a la Happy Gilmore?
Godich: Mac O'Grady. No explanation needed.
Gorant: Jesper Parnevik. He was crazy and smart.
Van Sickle: The greatest golf characters of all-time are the friends of Dan Jenkins in "The Glory Game," the greatest chapter on golf ever written, as seen in his compilation book, "The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate". I'm talking Matty, Foot the Free, Willard Peacock and the rest. In the real world, it'd be hard to top ol' Boo. But I think The Slammer, Sam Snead, was the original rube Mozart. I'll go with him.
Ritter: I'll take early '90s John Daly in all his mulleted glory. There will never be another story like that one.
Morfit: That'll help Boo pay for his next trip to hunt Cape buffalo. Favorite character? Mac O'Grady.
Lynch: Does Garcia still count? A casual look back at his implosions suggests he's the gift that keeps on giving.
Bamberger: Brandel Chamblee.
5. Does Colonial — short, tight, outdated — tell us much about Merion? Does this leaderboard give us an Open favorite?
Van Sickle: I can't believe I'm about to write this but I'd say The Players has more to do with Merion than Colonial. It was a light field at Colonial, unlike Merion. Other than being a course crammed into a space almost too small for a tournament, Colonial and Merion don't have a lot in common. The Players, like Merion, is pretty much target golf.
Bamberger: No totally different courses. Length will be a huge factor at Merion. There are only two par 5s. Great for long left-handers. Here's looking at Bubba.
Gorant: Merion gives a lot of people a shot, especially a lot who wouldn't normally have much chance at an Open.
Reiterman: It wouldn't surprise me to see guys like Kuchar and Zach Johnson in contention at the U.S. Open, but I think we all know the favorite is the guy who's won four times this year.
Lynch: Albert Montanes, a 32-year-old Spanish journeyman won a tennis tournament last week in Nice, on clay. That accomplishment no more puts him among the favorites for this week's French Open than the leaderboard at "short, tight, outdated" Colonial hints at a Merion winner. Similar surfaces, vastly different stages and pressures. Though Montanes has a better chance of winning (at Roland Garros and Merion!) than another Spaniard we all know and love.
Ritter: Colonial is a nice tournament, but the U.S. Open is a totally different experience. I do think Weekley could play well at Merion, given that ballstriking is his biggest strength, but overall I don't think Colonial is much of a predictor for this year's national championship.
Morfit: I would say no. Too many big names not even in the field at Colonial.
Godich: Even with all of its tight, tree-lined fairways, Colonial won't tell us much about the Open. The fairways at Merion will seem as wide as a sidewalk, and there is nothing similar about the greens and the trouble that lurks around them.
Chamblee: Colonial's dogleg holes are not as sharp as Merion's and thus far easier to cut a corner, nor is the penalty as severe for missing a fairway or the proper angle. Merion's greens are considerably more difficult, and putting and strategy will be much more a factor at Merion than it is at the famed Fort Worth layout. Merion's leaderboard will look nothing like Colonial's.
6. Former Colonial champs Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin skipped the senior major to play in Fort Worth. Former Colonial champ Kenny Perry opted for the major. Who made the right call?
Godich:I'll take Lehman and Pavin. Their appearance in Colonial speaks volumes about their respect for Colonial. Never mind the history. It's a shotmaker's course. I'd love to see Tiger navigate his way around the place — just once.
Gorant: If you're gonna play on the senior tour then you should support the majors.
Chamblee: No right or wrong call with regard to playing one place over another, but Hunter Mahan skipping the Byron Nelson in his own community, as one of the premier players in the game, is a PR mistake he should've been talked out of. Perhaps he doesn't sell a lot of tickets but his skipping the event is a slap in the face to the legacy of Byron Nelson and to the Salesmanship Club who work tirelessly to put on a great show and help evenly distribute charitable dollars.
Reiterman: They both missed the cut, but I'll say Lehman and Pavin. They don't have too many starts left against the young kids, so why not tee it up on the PGA Tour when the opportunity's right?
Morfit: Looks like Perry made a whole lot more money, so I'll go with him.
Van Sickle: Kenny Perry was in a position to win on the back nine Sunday. In fact, he coughed up a three-shot lead with six holes to play in pretty ugly fashion. But he did have a chance to win. So I'd lean toward Kenny. Although the Pavins and Lehmans might've had a great time at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Ritter: Given how things played out at the Senior PGA, I bet Perry wishes he would've joined Lehman and Pavin in Texas.
Lynch: Since none of them won, the answer is whichever one best covered his expenses for the week. So probably Perry.
Bamberger: That's for them to decide. That's part of the appeal of the game.
7. Because of flooding, the LPGA decided to play 12-hole rounds at the Bahamas Classic this week. Was the 12-hole round a sham or a tremendous piece of outside the box thinking?
Van Sickle: The 12-LPGA rounds were genius. It reminded me of six-inning baseball games in Little League. Fast and furious. And it was the most attention the LPGA has gotten since Lorena retired. They should look into making one of their events a 12-rounder every year. It was great fun and great public relations. Remind me not to get stranded in the Bahamas before a hurricane, however.
Chamblee: The 12-hole event was a clever attempt to make the best of a terrible week of weather. As I watched I didn't think once about it just being 36 holes or whether it should be official, I enjoyed the views of the Caribbean waters and got to know a few names on the LPGA.
Incidentally, I wish there were 12-hole courses being built, which by the way, was the original number of holes played in the first professional round at the Open Championship in 1860 when they played three rounds in one day for a 36-hole tournament, won by Willie Park Sr at 174.
Reiterman: I thought it was a great move. It's the first year of the event, so they obviously want to do everything they can to give the locals a good show. Amazing how good the course looked despite the record rainfall.
Gorant: It's the future of golf! Just ask Jack.
Morfit: I like it. Bucks tradition.
Lynch: This is the Tour that can't catch a break. Playing on through the hassles is to be applauded, and was a nice gesture toward a new sponsor and a new host venue. The sad reality is that the event probably got more attention for its troubles than a regular, drama-free tournament might have garnered.
Ritter: I wouldn't call it a sham, but the event was obviously diminished. But the record will show that Ilhee Lee earned her first career title this week, and she beat a strong field to get it. Congrats to her.
Godich: Who ever said golf had to be 18 holes? On a totally unrelated note, I once had a boss whose new wife questioned why it took him so long to play a round of golf and even wondered why he couldn't just play six or seven holes. The marriage lasted about a month.