Right stuff, right decision and writing the next chapter
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.
On Sunday evening, after Jason Dufner had bounced back to win The Memorial, Golf Channel analyst David Duval, remarked that “after getting out to such a big lead on Thursday and Friday, it seemed right that Dufner had won”. Did it seem right to you? Is it more right than any other player who manages to shoot the lowest score for four days, regardless of how he does it?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Well it was a nice thing to say, but it would’ve been equally right for Matt Kuchar to win if he’d shot 68 instead of 73, or Graham DeLaet if he’d shot 61 instead of 68. I mean, c’mon, do we really think of Jason Dufner as some kind of sentimental favourite? But good for him, he did come back, on a tough golf course and on a tough day to play.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): No, that’s a silly thing to say. There’s a reason why they play four day tournaments! The fact that Dufner broke the 36-hole scoring record at the Memorial was a nice accolade, but it did not in way guarantee him a victory. Anything could have happened out there in those last two rounds — Dufner could have shot back to back 77s and there wouldn’t have been anything right or not right about it. That’s just the way it goes!
TJ Rule, GolfAway Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I don’t think it’s wrong that he won, but just because he played well on Thursday and Friday certainly doesn’t mean he deserves to win. You can look at it the other way; does a guy who shoots 77 on the weekend deserve to win? Probably not, but because he was so solid early and played well on Sunday, he ended up holding on to win. Good for him, it was a pretty impressive bounce back round, and it’s good to see him get back into the winner’s circle.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: So much drivel; so little time. If there was anything ‘right’ about the personality-challenged ‘Duffer’ winning, then it follows that it was more than righteous that 54-hole leader Summerhays failed again to get his first win. What would a golf fan’s life be like without access to a mute button? I don’t want to even think about it.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): At the time it seemed like a really odd thing to say, as if the rest of the field was undeserving. However, in retrospect, it probably makes sense from Duval’s perspective. Pros hate losing. It’s obviously very difficult to win on the PGA Tour and when one of them has a lead that he let’s slip away, it hurts because most of them don’t get the chance that often. Maybe Duval can relate to that from his own career – he won a bunch but he also let a few get away that he should have won.
Phil Mickelson has announced that he is skipping this year’s U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony. Mickelson is still seeking a U.S. Open win to complete his personal Grand Slam and he’s not getting any younger. Are you surprised by Phil’s decision?
Deeks: Not surprised at all, and I admire him for making this decision. His chances of winning the US Open are, literally, 144-1. His chances of attending another one of his daughter’s high school graduations: 0. Phil has his priorities straight, and right.
Kaplan: I’m certainly surprised, but I understand why he made this decision. This is one of those instances where real life takes priority over golf and Phil is clearly not willing to miss his only opportunity to watch his first-born deliver her class’ valedictorian speech. Lefty’s window might perhaps be closing, but he will still get at least a few more stabs at the US Open before he calls it a career. He won’t get another chance to see Amanda graduate high school.
Rule: Not really, he’s always been (or at least wants us to see him as) a family man, and so this fits the bill. Let’s be honest, he’ll never win a US Open anyway, so there’s no real issue with him skipping the tournament.
Quinn: Not surprised in the least. Phil and Amy are devoted and doting parents, and this is a big day for Amanda and one the whole family will remember and treasure. This is not just a commencement ceremony. Amanda was the captain of three sports teams and she’s giving the commencement address! This is a big deal. She heads off to Brown University in the fall, and Phil is definitely doing the right thing by being there for her at her big moment.
Mumford: Phil was ready to walk off the course during the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst if his beeper had gone off to tell him that Amy was going into labour – even when he had a chance to win against Payne Stewart! Say what you want about Phil but his devotion to his family has never been in question, so this decision doesn’t surprise me. I’d also be surprised if he hadn’t exhausted every possibility to try and work around this – that’s how much winning the U.S. Open means to him too. In the end, I believe he’ll do the right thing and skip the trip to Erin Hills.
What do we make of the latest episode in the Tiger Woods saga? It’s a huge swing from being the #1 player in the world with throngs of adoring fans and worldwide recognition and respect to being the object of pity. Provided he recovers from this, how do you write the next chapter in Tiger’s life?
Deeks: Boy, there’s a $64 million question. I was hearing at a golf event today, albeit third or fourth hand, that this was NOT the first time Tiger’s been seen in a drug-induced stupor in recent months. I hope it’s not true. Frankly, I don’t see how he can return to anywhere near his former glory on the golf course, if he returns at all. But he’s still a young man, and very intelligent, and while I don’t hold my breath with great expectation, I’d love to see Tiger spend the rest of his life and considerable fortune and reputation doing something really good for society. There’s so much good he could do, if he wanted to.
Kaplan: I’m just glad that no one got hurt or killed! I don’t need to mention how stupid and dangerous what he did was, even if it was just a bad reaction to a cocktail of painkillers. He is taking some STRONG meds at the moment and he should have known better than to get behind the wheel while he is dosing. Why he doesn’t hire a driver to chauffeur him around town during his recuperation period is beyond me. He is, after all, one of the richest athletes in the world — I think he can afford it! Anyway, I have no idea what comes next in what is sure to be the most interesting 30 for 30 yet! I hope it’s the redemption act, where he gets his health, game and image back to where they should be for a superstar athlete of his calibre. However, we could also just be entering the Robert Downey Jr. phase of Tiger’s life. There’s really no way to know. Let’s hope for the former.
Rule: I think that might be the end, and I’ve been holding out as much hope as anyone that he’ll return to competitive golf, but I think he needs to dedicate the rest of his life to his kids and charity work, giving back to the game that has given him so much. It’s time for him to be the next big name ambassador for the game, taking over from Arnie and Jack. He’ll still be the best of all time in my mind, but he just won’t hold the big records we all thought were inevitable 10 years ago.
Quinn: Hopefully the next chapter has a large segment on opioid addiction. Given his multiple surgeries, it’s no surprise that he was prescribed heavy duty painkillers. I was prescribed 60 big time oxycontins after shoulder reconstruction a couple of years ago. Imagine how many variations on the theme Eldrick was written? High school, college and pro athletes are given massive painkiller prescriptions every day. Too many of those cases have much sadder results than DUIs.
Mumford: Like all great athletes, Tiger would like to go out on top, not remembered as the broken guy who couldn’t swing a club and was last seen in a police photo. I think he needs one last kick at the PGA Tour, not that he has anything to prove to anybody but more likely for his own peace of mind. There’s no future for him on the Senior circuit but he’s a competitive guy so a career in business a la Greg Norman is a possibility. Politics was always his dad’s prediction for Tiger after his playing days were over but that was before Tiger acquired some serious baggage. Although after Trump, who knows what will be acceptable to voters?