This Week in Golf

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

Rickie Fowler fans are clamouring to turn the Big 3 into the Fab 4. Presumably Rickie needs at least a major to be part of that conversation. Is everything else falling into line for him to join Spieth, McIlroy and Day if he can bag a major title or do we need to see more from Rickie?

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Rickie has demonstrated that he is in the upper echelon of the very good players, but I don’t think he is quite at the level of the Big 3 yet. Last year, you could have made a case for him based on his finishes at majors alone, but he has not been in the fold week in/week out like Spieth and Day have this year. In between his win at the Players and at the Deutsche Bank, Fowler missed the cut three times and finished T30 twice. Aside from a major victory, he’ll need to play more consistently before I consider putting him in the pantheon.

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): We need to see more from Rickie to have him in a Big 4 conversation, in my opinion, but I’m rootin’ fer the kid! Mind you, this whole Big 3/Big 4 conversation presupposes that this 3/4 are going to continue to dominate all the big events for some time to come, like Arnie/Jack/Gary did from 60-70. I dunno… there’s an awful lot of talent just beneath the surface… Dustin, Justin, Zach, Bubba, and then a whole other layer just a whisker below. Exciting times in golf these days, for sure.

Jim Kenesky, PGA (@JimKeneskyGolf): I am a big Fowler fan and love what he’s bringing to the golf course every week. I think he needs to be included as a top star in the game. I agree that we need to see a major win. However, The Players and the Scottish Open are pretty darn big in my books. He’s having an equally impressive year as Jason Day if you compare The Players to the PGA Championship as equivalent fields.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Rickie has been marketed as the “next big thing” since he first burst onto the scene looking like a Creamsicle five years ago. There’s a reason he was voted one of the most over-rated players on the PGA Tour last year. While he’s had a couple of big wins and contended in several majors, he’s also shown a great deal of inconsistency in other events. To be part of a Fab 4, he’ll have to be in the mix virtually every time he tees it up plus beat the other three on occasion.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Lest we forget, Rickie (will he change it to Richard when he’s 30, or will he be like the geriatric Dicky Pride and stick with the kindergarten cutie name?) was a Stenson rinse from not being a topic at this table. He’s a player, Butch doesn’t get enough credit for shaping that swing, and he contends. But in the global scheme of things, it’s hard to project him to that level (the Fab Four allusion is a nod, really, to Billy Casper who deserved to be considered on a par with the original big media three). Don’t think he’s there yet. He might be just an ‘ie’ away though.

Jordan Spieth is once again World #1 despite two consecutive missed cuts. This leaves a lot of people scratching their head. When Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods were at the top of their game, nobody needed an algorithm to figure out who was the guy to beat in any given week. Is the World Ranking valuable or just one more wacky golf thing we could do without?

Deeks: It’s interesting, and relatively valuable to give one a sense of how the players are faring week-in/week-out. But to be honest, I think it’s far more important to the golf/sports media, who thrive on rankings and lists. Any changes in OWGR give the media a new story/new angle/new fill each week. The anomaly you mention isn’t all that weird, in that a sports team can advance in the standings on a day off, if another team loses. But it does seem odd that you can play golf poorly and still ride up in the rankings. However, the sun will still rise in the East tomorrow.

Kaplan: This system is ludicrous. Spieth missed the cut last week and Rory did not even play and somehow the Texan lost his No. 1 status to the Northern Irishman. Then this week, Spieth misses the cut again and Rory finishes tied for 29th place and somehow Spieth retains World No. 1 again. This is going to turn into projected No. 1 rankings after every shot in no time, like they already do for the Fed Ex Cup. “Oh, Spieth missed the green on the par 3, back to No. 2 in the world he goes …”

Kenesky: I’m sure we have lots of confused individuals out there regarding this matter. However, the OWGR are very important in my mind and if not for the #1 ranked player it definitely separates 50th from 100th and 150th from 500th. The ranking system is very tight and with players competing all around the world it only complicates things further. The main issue with the ranking system is that it looks back over two years. If they decided to make the points from year to year we would see the obvious choices on top. Maybe it’s time to implement a World Player of the Year award based on current year ranking points. This would help ease the critics and their confusion.

Quinn: It’s a tough one because in the modern era — given current attention spans, that means since, like, late summer — Jason Day was the guy. Golf journalists (sic) can barely remember their effusive gushing about the indomitable Mr. Spieth, the ink barely dry (to use an anachronism) on their treatises on why Rory is better on and off the course than that Eldrick character and is the numero uno we’ve all been waiting for. Now that the internet is also for computers (thanks Homer), perspective is challenged each nano second. The two-year period for assessing performance — given that golf has more variables than any other sport — makes sense. Golf Channel’s talking heads and the nattering nabobs of the other networks talking about it incessantly, does not. (Steve Sands charting FedEx playoff possibilities — based on an assumption that no one in the field will make a bogey or birdie over the next two days — is must avoid TV at its most egregious). Based on the long term, Spieth deserves to be #1, for the short term.

Mumford: The OWGR list is useless. Wins and majors have always been the measure that golfers and golf fans use to know who’s the best. You don’t need an algorithm for that. Tiger Woods always said that winning takes care of everything. The OWGR puts too much emphasis on the losers.

Did Jay Haas and Nick Price make the right Captain’s selections to round out their Presidents Cup squads?

Quinn: It wouldn’t be the inconsequential Prez Cup without a ‘Does anyone care?’ controversy. I like Price and Haas taking the 11th guy, it’s only right. Bowditch is a fine player and just because Bill is Jay’s son doesn’t matter (Whew!) The Bae pick is a realistic nod to the host country. But Phil? That’s like an old man making a short term memory loss, long-term memory decision. Embarrassing. It’s a good thing this particular Cup is so… hey, isn’t that the NFL kicking off? Gotta go.

Deeks: Hard for Price not to pick Sangmoon Bae, and Steven Bowditch is a fair choice. Too bad Graham DeLaet’s injuries have prevented him from being invited back – especially given his 2013 performance in the Presidents Cup in Muirfield, Ohio. As for the American side, I give Jay Haas credit for picking his son Bill, and putting himself in line for much criticism. The fact is Bill deserves to be there. And Phil Mickelson will certainly be a bigger crowd-pleaser than Brooks Koepka would’ve been. All in all, good choices.

Kaplan: I liked the picks. None of the American guys on the bubble were playing well going into the selection and no one has more Presidents Cup experience than Phil Mickelson … literally. I also really like the Sang Moon Bae pick. Between Danny Lee and Bae, the locals should have quite a bit to cheer about and that should make for some good TV and excellent column material. Also, from what I have read, the course is a gem and I am looking forward to watching it on television.

Kenesky: For those who care…. YES. Bae was an obvious choice as long as he’s not in the military. Bowditch is having a great season. For the U.S. Mickelson will be a great leader and Haas will be a nice story playing for Dad.

Mumford: Three of the four choices were pretty obvious. Phil Mickelson is one of those picks that will, in retrospect, appear inspired or be cause for a new Advisory Committee to Select Future Captains. To get Phil, Captain Jay Haas had to skip by 18 other qualified players, some, like Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel, who have pretty impressive international team credentials or Brooks Koepka and JB Holmes who are playing well right now. Haas Sr believes in team chemistry and thinks Mickelson could be a catalyst. I would have taken Koepka.

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