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.
Jordan Spieth won the Dean & Deluca Invitational on Sunday making six birdies on the back nine. Can we say he has recovered from his Masters meltdown now?
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: Nope. And that’s not just me saying it but past PGA TOUR champions like Nick Faldo. As he said this past weekend when asked the same question, a major is a major. It will haunt Spieth until he strikes the last putt on Sunday of a major for the win. And even then, he will always have it in the back of his mind.
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Sorry, but I just refuse to believe that Jordan Spieth HAD a meltdown at Augusta. He hit one slightly bad shot on 12, and then another really bad shot. (Let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone.) He then played well coming in, but not well enough to catch Danny Willett who was himself catching on fire. I think everyone has made WAY too much out of Jordan’s mishap. On Sunday, in Fort Worth, Jordan showed once again what an electrifying player he truly is, was, and ever shall be. Can we stop talking about the Masters now, please?
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): That certainly appears to be the case. Spieth had a vintage performance on Sunday and made everything he looked at on the back nine — in front of a hometown crowd to boot! That’s a big monkey off the kid’s back. I think he is back to a good place mentally and that should make him a very dangerous competitor at Oakmont next month.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I’m not sure he really went anywhere, he had a few issues finishing for a win, but as noted earlier, it is HARD to win on Tour, very hard. But if it takes a win for others to say he’s back, then yeah welcome back Jordan.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Nothing like rolling in a few bombs to help get over an epic collapse. As Dottie Pepper pointed out, no one else was sinking putts over 20 feet and he sank a bunch. When he’s doing that he can start thinking about No. 1 again. It helps that he’s just 22, but the memory of the 12th at Augusta National will always be with him.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Everybody who gets to the PGA Tour has loads of natural talent but the ones who excel consistently are the strongest mentally. The 2016 Masters will be one of those things that bugs Jordan Spieth off the course for the rest of his life but I doubt it ever creeps into his mind when he’s playing.
Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have all won their most recent events and appear to be peaking for the U.S. Open in a couple of weeks. Does Oakmont favour any one of the three?
Deeks: Good question! Others here at the Table may be more analytical and more perceptive, but all I can say is, Oakmont favours the guy who has the most patience… the patience to stick to the game plan, to shake off inevitable errors and bad luck, to concentrate and not get distracted. All of which, in a US Open environment, is T-U-F-F. I definitely think these three have all it takes to meet these criteria. I don’t see a dark horse lurking the stable at this point.
Mumford: Oakmont is brutally long and has ridiculously slick greens on a normal day. Who knows how fast they’ll be for a U.S. Open? The length and accuracy requirement should play into the hands of McIlroy while Spieth is likely the best putter on the planet. Not a bad chipper either as he showed last week. However, Day seems to be a complete combination of the two and has the hottest streak in golf going. If all three are at the top of their game, then I think Day is best equipped to handle Oakmont.
Quinn: Oakmont is a monster at 7,255 yards and a par of 70 with tight fairways and slick greens and so favours the bombers. When the Big Three are on their games, Day is the longest and straightest and number one. The way he’s playing this season, he makes any course seem perfectly suited to his game. Day deserves to be the pre-tourney favourite.
Mastroianni: It pains me to say it but Oakmont probably favours Spieth the most with its crazy greens. That said, I think Spieth has no chance. A player who can’t hit driver long and in the fairway (Spieth can’t at the moment) won’t win at Oakmont as it favours the long ball as much as it does great putters. I think the favourite of the three is Jason Day. His game has been solid all around, but Rory might sneak in there if it isn’t windy and plays soft. But it doesn’t matter because the winner this year is Dustin Johnson #lookout.
Kaplan: I think it favours Spieth’s game the most. The Texan is an excellent lag putter and that will certainly be a huge advantage on those skating rink surfaces, as it was at Chambers Bay last year.
Loughry: Oakmont is a MONSTER. I think this track favours Jason Day a little more than the other two. He has some serious length and has an air assault game that is second to none. I’d lean to Day as a result. A close second is Spieth, simply because of his putting.
Speculation continues to swirl around the return of Tiger Woods. The longer it is delayed, the more people wonder if he’ll return at all. If Tiger were to announce his retirement, where would his accomplishments rank versus other top players in the game?
Quinn: When the final chapter is written, he will definitely be ranked among the best to ever play the game, and as the most dominant player of any era. Unfortunately, his story will always have to include a footnote on the very public disclosure of his private life.
Deeks: If Tiger were to retire without ever coming back, I think his and Jack’s names would always be spoken in the same sentence, the same way Jack’s and Bobby Jones’s were in the 70s and 80s. His story and his record are incredible, even if he will never equal or better Jack’s Major record. If Tiger were to come back and be a mere shadow of his former self, however, his lustre would dim, and that would be a shame. But at that this point, I’m not sure I could say “greatest of all time” for Tiger. Greatest of HIS time, no doubt… just like Jones and Nicklaus. Let’s call it a three-way tie.
Mastroianni: If Tiger were to retire right now I’d place him in the Top 5 players all time in the coveted 5th position. Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones would come before him.
Loughry: If Tiger retired today, he’d be the second best player of all time. Too few Majors to be considered the greatest ever. The guy with 18 Majors is the greatest ever – titles matter in this case.
Kaplan: That’s a tough one because it’s so difficult to compare players from different eras. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Woods was better/worse than either Nicklaus or Snead because all three players were just so dominant in their own times. That being said, I would make an argument for Woods being the most dominant player of all time. The dude won 79 PGA Tour events, 14 majors, 9 Vardon trophies, 9 Byron Nelson Awards and two FedEx Cups … and for a period of nearly ten years, Woods closed out every one of his 54-hole tournament leads. He also is the only player to ever win four consecutive majors (although they were not all in the same calendar season) and still holds the record for both the most consecutive and the most cumulative weeks atop the OWGR. In short, I think he might just get into the Hall of Fame.
Mumford: Nicklaus and Woods are almost interchangeable as 1 and 2 based on total accomplishments. To me Bobby Jones is a clear No 3 albeit over a short career. Snead and Hogan creep into the Top 5. If you could put all five players in the same group with the same equipment, playing at the top of their game, my money would be on Jones.