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.
The brouhaha at the Solheim Cup is the latest in questionable sportsmanship. Suzann Pettersen has apologized for her poor behaviour but many feel she did nothing wrong. What’s your take on the maybe-or-maybe-not conceded putt?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine @jimdeeks): Yes, Alison Lee made a mistake… she should never have picked up that ball without being sure it had been conceded (although she did say she “thought” she heard something to that effect). But the Euro women were extremely rude to have started walking away, especially if they hadn’t conceded the putt, as Pettersen maintained. So, both sides were wrong. But golf is and should always be a game of good sportsmanship and goodwill, so in my mind Pettersen was cheap and petty in calling Lee out on that move. She should’ve just bit her tongue and carried on to the next tee. Her apology on Monday morning was gut-wrenching and sincere, however, and I hope for everyone’s sake this sad incident can be forgotten. I suspect that most American fans will give Pettersen a thorough booing the next few times she tees it up, though, and I can’t say I’ll feel sorry for her.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Lee could have asked for confirmation that the putt was good, but that was a dirty tactic on Pettersen’s part. Heading towards the next tee in match play is universal for a conceded putt. Anyone who has ever played in match play knows that. Not cool, Suzann!
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Nobody came out of this looking good. Lee goofed in picking up her ball without getting a clear concession; rookie Hull caved to scary fierce partner Pettersen when it was pretty clear from her actions that she had conceded the putt; Pettersen displayed incredibly poor sportsmanship and/or a massive brain fart under pressure, followed by the most agonizing and unnecessary apology ever; the referee missed an opportunity to make it right; and Juli Inkster delivered an Oscar winning role as the schizophrenic coach, on the one hand channelling her inner Dottie Pepper “freakin’ chokin’ dogs” persona and on the other, trying to be more statesmanlike than Jimmy Carter at Camp David.
Craig Loughry, GAO Director of Handicapping (@craigloughry): This should never happen at events on such a big stage. To avoid this going forward both sides need to establish CLEAR COMMUNICATION with each other by having a sign they flash at the opposing player or a verbal “that’s good” must be said, and if you don’t hear or see it, PUTT IT. This was just bad on course judgement by Peterson. The damage was done though. But, people make mistakes especially in stressful situations, so I’ll accept her apology, even though it was after the match, and post press conference on Sunday night, which clearly showed she was still heated over the incident.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: I detest jingoism and the moronic flag waving and chanting that goes with it, especially at sporting events (one of many, but not the leading reason for my abhorrence of the Olympics). The Solheim Cup imbroglio is merely a symptom of how misguided sport has become (War on the Shore, anyone?). He has articulated it a few times, most recently in the October edition of Golf Digest, and I couldn’t agree more. Larry David is talking about the Ryder Cup, but it applies to the Solheim too. David: “If it’s against one country, fine. If it’s against China or Russia, fine. But you’re telling me our arch enemy is Europe? They’re our NATO allies!” The players and captains — and support staff — were caught up in the artificially conjured ‘US versus Them’ mania that now sadly defines these Cups. Without the phoney gravitas, no problem. But Julie Inkster’s vulgar urging of her team to “walk on them, stomp on them, and give them all we’ve got” puts all of her barbs aimed at the Euros about sportsmanship and “respect for the game” in the trash bin where they belong, comments as disingenuous as the ritual LPGA Tour fake hug and back tap after each round. No one in the world of golf — except, perhaps, for the suddenly fatuous and brain dead Laura Davies — would think for a moment that Inkster, roles reversed, would not have done exactly what Pettersen did, but probably with a fist pump.
Jason Day has vaulted himself to World No. 1 with another playoff victory. That makes four wins in the last six starts – a feat managed by only three other golfers (Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods). A couple of weeks back we asked if Day might be in the conversation for Player of the Year. Is he there now or would a win this week in Atlanta be good enough to overtake Jordan Spieth?
Kaplan: Day’s recent stretch has been incredible, but majors are majors and Spieth has two of them this year. In fact, he almost won all four! Spieth for the win!
Loughry: Geesh, I know I said it would be tough to dethrone Spieth’s two Major wins but Day is sure making a case. If he wins the Tour Championship with the Fed-Ex Cup, I just may change my mind. By the way, I want to go on record as saying I picked Day to do some real damage early in this year. And I don’t mind adding I think Day will end his career with the most Majors of what I call the Millennial Big Three.
Quinn: It changed this past weekend. Day is so much better right now than anyone else is right now, and so much better now than anyone else has been all year, that it is shocking to witness. Don’t want to get Steve Sands involved, but however they convolute the scoring at this ridiculous money laundry, Day should win the Cup no matter what he does in the shadow of the bottles of sugared water. Had Day not suffered vertigo, had Dustin Johnson’s incredible second shot into the 18th at the eminently forgettable Chambers Bay not rolled that fateful extra five feet, Spieth would not have won the U.S. Open. In that light, the POY would be one guy. I think it still should be. The best driver of the golf ball in modern history is Greg Norman. His countryman Day is the best ever in the high tech era, and it shows.
Mumford: Day has one of the all-time great hot streaks going and is certainly making a case for POY votes but I’m still biased in favour of majors. Years from now, non-major victories will be nice to have but majors will still be the measure that defines great careers. Spieth’s two majors beats Day’s one and everything else is window dressing.
Deeks: A win in Atlanta would make it six wins this year for Day, vs. Spieth who won the first two majors, and T4 and 2 in the other two. But for four shots, Spieth could’ve won all four majors. He did win two other tournaments this year, and lost another in a playoff. So at the moment… it’s Day 5 and Spieth 4… but 1 major vs. 2. If I were a votin’ man, I’d vote for whoever between the two finishes higher in Atlanta. And wouldn’t it be awesome if it was a 1-2 finish!
Phil Mickelson is designing a new course in Calgary and has stated that it could host the Canadian Open in a few years. Given that Phil has been a rare participant in our national championship, should Golf Canada consider it as a host course or does Phil’s poor attendance even matter?
Loughry: The Canadian Open needs to go where it can make money and have an impact on the host community – PERIOD. If that’s in Calgary, I think that would be great. The facility that hosts it MUST have the off structure to support it (space for corporate tents/suites, practice area, course with appropriate yardage and greens supporting at least four hole locations on the majority of holes, as well as easy entry from public transportation/parking, etc). It’s great that Phil says his new course is capable of hosting the Canadian Open – he must have really done his homework. Whether the event actually includes Phil or not doesn’t matter. By the time construction is complete and they put a bid in to host, Phil may be playing the Champions Tour!
Deeks: Phil’s attendance record shouldn’t matter at all. The Canadian Open has been played at Ancaster, Shaughnessy and Royal Montreal, and I don’t remember Harry Colt, A.V.Macan, or Dick Wilson ever playing in the tournament. That said, I think it’s a bit presumptuous of Phil and/or the Calgary investors to assume they’ll ever get the Open there. There are many courses in Canada that, provided they can answer most of the infrastructure challenges, should be given a shot at it before a course that Phil’s getting paid huge bucks to put his name on.
Mumford: Doesn’t matter in the least. As long as the course can host a profitable championship, it should be a consideration. I’ve never seen a Mickelson course but comments he made in the past suggest it might be 8,000 plus yards and groomed like Augusta. That would not be a great example to showcase Golf Canada’s mantra for sustainable, affordable, environmentally friendly courses.
Kaplan: Why? Just because Phil Mickelson said so? Golf Canada does not need to be bending over backwards for a player who has never shown much interest in playing in our national tournament, especially in light of how much money the organization lost at the Canadian Open in 2014.
Quinn: Most of the game’s best skip the Canuck Open, so that shouldn’t be a black mark on Phil’s card. But, it’s irrelevant anyway. With the RCGA, it’s all about losing money. If the owners of Phil’s latest “masterpiece” write a big enough cheque, they should get the event. It’s a real estate play, so maybe the 2nd and 3rd tier players who show up can billet in the vacant mansions around the layout.