The Weight of Leadership

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.

It would appear that Dustin Johnson has wrapped up PGA Tour Player of the Year with his latest win at the BMW Championship. Is there a scenario you can see where anybody could snatch that honour from him?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Doubtful.  I must say, I’m neither a fan nor a detractor of Dustin’s.  But he’s quite a player when all the cartoons in his head have audio and video synced.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Nope, nothing.  He has it wrapped up. Well, unless he gets suspended again I suppose!  Pretty impressive year for him, and he fully deserves POY.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It usually boils down to majors and the other three major winners have done squat except maybe Stenson who won a silver medal. DJ has made 20 of 21 cuts on top of his victories and appears to have exorcised whatever demons were plaguing him in previous years. It looks like he’s finally fulfilling all his potential and a well deserved POY this year may be the first of many.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): No, he’s got the award in the bag after last weekend.  He now has three wins this year, including a US Open title and a WGC event, and has only missed one cut in 21 events.  At this point, even if Day were to win the FedEx Cup, I think DJ would still take POY honours.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I could answer this with a simple NO. DJ’s year can’t be topped by anyone at this point. He’s clearly the best player this year (to my surprise to be honest) and his record speaks for itself. His clubs did all the talking.

Davis Love III has selected Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar as three of his four Captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Do you agree with his picks?

Rule: I’m just glad he didn’t pick Bubba.  Goes to show that DL3 is looking at bringing in guys who are liked, why else would he choose Rickie, who has not won a Ryder Cup match in the eight he has played, and even missed out on the Tour Championship by playing terribly down the stretch.  Looks like he’s trying to field a team similar to what Azinger did at Valhalla, putting guys together that like playing with each other.  I think it’s a good tactic, and like their chances.

Loughry: I would have left Rickie off my team (terrible record) if I were captain but I agree with DL3 leaving Bubba off. We’re going to hear a lot about that over the coming 10 days and he may yet end up on the team because Hazeltine National favours bombers. However, I think Ryan Moore would fit in with the TEAM concept better than Bubba. Again, I’ll plug Furyk, the guy is a perennial winner (very good Ryder Cup record) and no doubt a future captain, he’d be on my team this go round.

Deeks: Well, I suppose so, depending on who the fourth pick is.  (See my blog this week.)  Bubba… or me… let the readers decide.

Kaplan: I’ve got no problem with Holmes and Kuchar, but Fowler is a lousy pick.  He hasn’t won all year and has been playing particularly lousy golf as of late, essentially playing his way out of the FedEx Cup.  Plus, he has never won a single match over his Ryder Cup career.  Why do I feel like DL3 is going to pick Tiger as the 12th man?

Mumford: Let’s see now. Love was the losing Captain in the last Ryder Cup. Then he chaired a Gold Ribbon Task Force to figure out how to win the dang thing that, surprise, surprise, ultimately concluded he’s still the best guy to captain the team. Should anybody be shocked that the loser captain picks the same losers that couldn’t get it done before (Fowler, Kuchar)? Bubba will probably be his final loser pick. Holmes, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore and Daniel Berger are all playing well and don’t have loser baggage. They should be the U.S. picks.

Tiger Woods said he is planning to play three events this fall. Even if he can’t compete at a level like he did before his back injuries, he still consumes a lot of oxygen in the media room and much of the fan interest. Is Tiger’s return good news for the Tour or has it been better served by a rotating cast of players contending for top spot on a weekly basis?

Deeks: Tiger’s return has to be a good thing, and it’ll be even better if he can perform a miracle and return to top form. That said, Tiger’s absence has made the Tour more interesting and more competitive each week. If his return simply means watching a Tiger who struggles to make cuts for the next couple of years, what a shame that will be and a tarnish on his great legacy.

Rule: It’s not as good news as it would have been last year, or three years ago, or eight years ago, but it’s still good news, and I for one am excited to see him return to the tour.  But there are certainly enough young talented players to make Tiger a lot less relevant now than he was in recent years.

Kaplan: Of course it is a good thing!  The Safeway Open (formerly the Frys.com Open) is selling tickets like hotcakes to a meaningless event in October after Woods said that he “hopes to play” in it!  Not necessarily that he’s going to play … just that he would like to! LOL! Golfers are always going to watch golf, regardless of who is playing, but Tiger’s presence assures that even the most casual sports fans will tune in to watch whatever event he is playing.

Loughry: It’s ALL GOOD. Any buzz is good BUZZ. It brings attention to golf. How is that a bad thing? And, although he didn’t win in his last start, can I remind you he was T2 heading into the final round…and it was anarchy that final day….TIGER-MANIA. Make no mistake, he may not come back the player he was in his prime, but he can still play.

Mumford: It would be fantastic to see Tiger operating at full throttle against DJ, Rory, Spieth and Day. The big difference now is that Tiger’s intimidation factor won’t work on those players so he might not be as dominating a presence but he would still be great for the Tour and golf fans everywhere. If Tiger can’t compete at the elite level any longer, I doubt you’ll see much of him so this test will be critical. We may get a few more years of vintage Tiger or a quick sayonara.

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