Tour Confidential: Seung-Yul Noh’s swing, Tiger Woods’ Ryder Cup outlook and our favorite Tour stops
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. Zurich Classic winner Seung-Yul Noh wowed golf fans with his beautiful swing this week in New Orleans. Who has your favorite swing among under-age-30 players right now?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine (@CameronMorfit): I still like Rory's the best, but Louis Oosthuizen has a pretty sweet action. Oh, wait, he's 31. Man, that dude's totally over the hill. Harris English has a nice, classical swing with those long levers that produce big power. He's practically Weiskopf-ian. Weiskopf-ish. Weiskopf-esque.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Oh, it's not even a debate: Rory. One of the most dynamic swings ever. Could watch it all day.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Maybe Rory, although Mr. Noh is now in the running after I got a good look at him all weekend.
Mike Walker, assistant managing editor, Golf.com (@michaelwalkerjr): McIlroy’s swing is my favorite because it’s so expressive. Nobody else could swing like him. The best swings are inseparable from the player’s personality in the same way that nobody else can make a guitar sound like Keith Richards can.
Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): I'll go with the only swing in that age group that holds multiple majors: Rory McIlroy's.
Joe Passov, senior editor, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): How old is Adam Scott? OK, if we're talking young folks, I'll still take Rory McIlroy — effortless power, like Sam Snead's. Two years ago, I thought Korea's Sang-Moon Bae was the next big thing, with a similarly graceful, yet thunderous move, but he's not there yet.
2. With Keegan Bradley and oft-injured Paul Casey in the hunt at Zurich last week, it brings to mind the question, who is the biggest underachiever on Tour?
BAMBEGER: Is Fred still considered on Tour? Couples certainly had the talent to win 25 or more times. Why he didn't I don't know, but he didn't.
VAN SICKLE: I wouldn't call him an underachiever, perhaps, but I sure thought Ian Poulter would have piled up a lot more wins by now and maybe a major or two. He still may.
RITTER: I'd probably look at the tried-and-true "Best Without a Major" list for the guys who haven't delivered on their potential. Westwood and Donald are former No 1s, so they're off the board as underachievers. I'd probably take Sergio, who had (and still has) top-10 talent but never really arrived as an elite player.
PASSOV: After the star power Keegan Bradley showed in '11 and '12, I'm pretty shocked how his results have plummeted. Great emotions, great for the game — not sure what's happened. I could say Bubba Watson. Only six wins with that talent? That said, I'm not going there with Bubba. Two Masters is two Masters. My pick? Dustin Johnson. I know he's won his share, but he brings so much game, he ought to be a favorite every time he tees it up.
WALKER: Hard to call a major champion an underachiever, but Louis Oosthuizen’s talent has not translated into as many wins as you would think by now.
MORFIT: Casey has been injured a lot, so I wouldn't say he's an underachiever. Keegan is underachieving right now, given that he's appeared to be "back" from his swing changes for much of this year. Although in all fairness, Rory also has been underachieving for the last year and a half. There's actually quite a bit of underachieving going on right now on Tour, and there are also a lot of injured golfers. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the two.
3. Tiger Woods plans to return to the Tour sometime this summer, according to his agent Mark Steinberg, which will leave him little time to accumulate Ryder Cup qualifying points. Is a healthy Tiger Woods an automatic captain's pick for the 2014 Ryder Cup team, regardless of qualifying points? Should he be?
MORFIT: If I'm the captain I tell him not to worry about it, because it's way better for golf if he just writes this year off and then comes back strong in 2015. Graham DeLaet had the same surgery and tried to come back and play a few Web.com events in the fall, and he later said it was too soon, he'd made a mistake.
WALKER: Of course he will and should get the nod for Gleneagles. The Ryder Cup is an exhibition — a spirited one — but it’s an exhibition. You can’t leave the best player in the world at home because he was hurt and couldn’t collect enough qualifying points.
BAMBERGER: If Woods is healthy, he should be an automatic pick if TV ratings are your highest priority. If you are interested in winning, which I assume Watson is, I would consider Woods right alongside other players who are winning this year, playing well when they are not and making a high percentage of short putts in pressure situations. In other words, there are potentially players who can help you more than Tiger Woods.
VAN SICKLE: There are a million variables, but it would hardly be fair to Tiger to throw him into the Ryder Cup if he's healthy and has played in only, say, one or two events. Unless, of course, he were to win those events. I'd tell Tiger it's his call — if he feels ready, he's on the team. If not, that's OK, too.
RITTER: Watson has said a healthy Tiger is on the team, and that's the right call. And surely Tiger would take himself out of the running for a spot if he's still hurt or rusty or doesn't think he can play his best golf in Gleneagles…right?
PASSOV: Unless he's on crutches, Tiger should be a Ryder Cup pick, period.
4. A familiar name was near the top of the Zurich Classic leaderboard on Thursday: former No. 1 player in the world David Duval. A few years ago, Men’s Journal published a profile titled “What the Hell Happened to David Duval?” So, what happened?
PASSOV: He's guilty of being a deep thinker — too deep. He worked his butt off, reached the summit and said, "Is that all there is?" A few injuries, body changes (workout regime) and attitude took their toll. Happens in every sport. Some guys come back stronger than ever, some never get it back.
BAMBERGER: He was playing golf with a body-type that was not his natural physique. That can't last for too long. He had some unusual fundamentals. But more than anything, being the best in the world didn't seem to do anything for him. It didn't seem to make him a happier or more satisfied person. And if that's correct, what would be the motivation in continuing to work so hard when Nike is paying you millions?
WALKER: Tiger Woods happened. Duval had to deal with injuries, and he was never able to get his game back mentally to challenge Woods at the height of his powers. That was a tall order even for Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
VAN SICKLE: I think a back injury happened to Duval. His swing and his game, and therefore his interest level, was never the same. Also, life happened to him. He's got a family, kids — he's had a very good last decade.
MORFIT: He won a major, the 2001 British Open, and realized it wasn't the end all, be all of human existence, like he'd been led to believe. He lost too much weight too quickly. He blew out his back. He got diagnosed with vertigo. He grooved a two-way miss with the driver. He got married and realized he actually kind of enjoyed having a life. Other than that, nothing much.
5. Lydia Ko had a great week. She won the LPGA’s Swinging Skirts event and was named to TIME's 100 Most Influential list along with such heady company as Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton and Beyonce. Whom do you think will have the most influence on the game in the next 10 years?
RITTER: Rory and Spieth are tempting, but instead I'll borrow what TIME Magazine did for their Person of the Year in 2006 and say the most influential will be You. Will you still play this game? Will you watch it? Talk about it? Read about it? It's the collective power of the consumers, fans and recreational players who have the most power to determine what the game looks like in 10 years.
MORFIT: I might not have said this a month ago, but Rickie Fowler might sneak in there and have a big impact. He's showed me something with this new Butch Harmon swing of his, contending at the Masters before finishing T5. And Fowler is doing a lot to make golf look cool by doing all this extreme stuff with the Red Bull people. Just watching him in that aerial acrobatics plane almost made me sick.
BAMBERGER: Some kid in China whose name we don't know yet.
WALKER: I don’t know if he’ll have the most influence, but I think President Obama will be an effective ambassador for the game after he leaves office. Sounds like a great bipartisan project for him and George W. Bush.
PASSOV: It won't be Lydia Ko, though congrats to her for this honor. Big crop of candidates out there, but unless he's on crutches for the next 10 years, the most influential person in golf will still be Tiger Woods.
VAN SICKLE: Yeah, Lydia Ko belongs with the Pope and Hillary on a list of most influential people. Are you kidding me?
6. Zurich draws an OK field on an OK golf course, but the host city, New Orleans, is one fun spot. What is the best destination on Tour for restaurants, nightlife and other distractions?
VAN SICKLE: Scottsdale. You don't have to leave the tournament to party — you can go to the 16th hole or to the after-party there at the Bird's Nests. If you do leave, Scottsdale has plenty of lively hot spots. And there's always the Tilted Kilt right by the TPC Scottsdale.
PASSOV: Phoenix/Scottsdale is the best Tour destination for the fun off-course stuff, but since I live there, maybe I'm biased. Let's go with Las Vegas, New York and N'awlins, in that order.
MORFIT: My sleeper pick here is the McGladrey. Southern Soul BBQ is one of the absolute can't-miss restaurants on Tour, and there's a pretty mellow vibe at St. Simons Island, plus great beaches.
RITTER: Depends on what you look for in your "distractions." My favorites are found in Kapalua.
WALKER: Riviera is my favorite tournament to attend. Incredible course in a very cool area of Los Angeles.
BAMBERGER: I think the players have very little interest in restaurants, nightlife and distractions, but I would put New Orleans high on the list. Also Honolulu, Chicago and Los Angeles, with Ponte Vedra bringing up the rear.
The Tour Confidential roundtable continues Monday on our new weekly show hosted by Jessica Marksbury. Tweet her your questions @Jess_Marksbury.