Can Tiger compete with the kids?

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.

Adam Hadwin shot 59 in the third round of the CareerBuilder Challenge but didn’t win the tournament. What’s your take on the second 59 in consecutive weeks and is Hadwin’s score diminished because he didn’t get the W?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I think Hadwin’s score was outstanding, and I bow my head in reverence.  Unless he becomes a multiple and/or major winner, his 59 will follow him throughout his career, like a badge of honour.  But it is somewhat diminished because 59s are no longer rare (hell, even 58s aren’t rare).  The fact that he didn’t win is immaterial.  What it did prove is that Adam most certainly belongs on the PGA Tour.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Come on, 59 is a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT. But any Tour Player will take a win over having a 59 (great of both happen). Listen, if you’ve followed me on this panel, you know I state how HARD it is to win on Tour, very hard. Hadwin had a fantastic week, and he’s had a great start to the season, looks like a career builder year (sorry couldn’t help myself with the obvious pun). Back to back weeks of 59 seems ridiculous, but these tracks aren’t exactly the most difficult to play, nor setup horribly tough either. And both events had near perfect conditions weather and course wise. So, yes, I would expect some low scores. That doesn’t mean 59 is not impressive, like I said before, you wouldn’t see it in a MAJOR, EVER. But it’s sure a nice feather in the cap, as it’s a pretty exclusive club to be part of.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more 59s in the future now that the ice has been broken.  I liken sub-60 rounds to the emergence of the triple double in the NBA following the 2010 season.  Prior to that, triple doubles were being recorded at a clip of 1 every 36 games.  Now it seems like Russell Westbrook and James Harden get one every single night.   These young guns are mighty good and do not appear to shy away from the challenge of scoring in the 50s.  Moreover, I don’t believe the lack of victory diminishes Hadwin’s 59. Four other players have shot in the 50s in a PGA Tour event and lost, including Furyk’s 58 last year at the Travelers, so it’s not that unusual.  It is extremely hard to win a golf tournament and Hadwin came up just short.  Nonetheless, let’s celebrate the first Canadian ever to post a round in the 50s on the PGA Tour — it is a great accomplishment!

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Rather than diminished, Hadwin’s 59 should be celebrated as only the fourth on a par 72 course. That’s a stroke under par better than Furyk’s 58 on a par 70! His 2nd place finish was courageous, staying within hovering distance of grounded after the 59 showed that he’s got it, and it won’t be surprising when he wins one. Less surprising was Johnny ‘never met anything so stupid I won’t say it’ Miller dodge of trying to pronounce Saskatchewan, and opting for Hadwin’s adopted “BC” homeland. For multi-winner (this season) Justin Thomas, his 59 was more important than his win. For Hadwin, the win would have been sweeter, but until there’s a 58 on a real course, they can’t take last Saturday away and his place in Tour history’s fabulous 59 foursome.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): It’s a tremendous accomplishment and not diminished in the least by not winning. What probably hurts is that he had the lead in the final round and didn’t close the deal. However, that will surely come with his marked improvement in almost all facets of his game. To have 59’s in consecutive weeks is incredible although neither course nor the conditions were particularly tough. If the Rule of 3 applies, we should watch for another 59 soon.

Tiger Woods will play his first regular PGA Tour event in 18 months this week at Torrey Pines, a course where he has won 8 times. What are your expectations for Tiger?

Deeks: I have no expectations, because I don’t care.  But since you asked, I don’t expect him to win.

Loughry: For TW, a made cut with flashes of brilliance will be the mark. Just like in The Bahamas, that’s all I want to see. Sure a win would be great, but he’s walking up some stairs right now, getting his golf tournament legs back, I’m willing to give him a little more time at this point.

Kaplan: I expect him to make the cut — anything else would be a bonus!  Tiger Tiger Woods y’all!!

Quinn: California dreaming ain’t what it used to be. The rain that San Diegans have been waiting on for almost a decade has arrived. Torrey ain’t going to be the Torrey that Eldrick has dominated, and neither is the 2017 Eldrick that dominating guy. The already long course is going to be wet and playing even longer, the rough thick, damp, and nasty: not an Rx for a guy that missed a lot of the tourist-hacker forgiving fairways at Albany in his last outing. Hot, hard, and fast, he had a chance. Cool, soft, and slow, making the cut will be a moral victory; anything much better, shocking.

Mumford: The last time Tiger won at Torrey Pines was 2008 and the course has been re-vamped since so not sure how much mojo he can find there. The new Tiger is shorter off the tee than his former self and still wayward with the driver. However, the short game looked good in the Bahamas and he made a lot of birdies. If I were caddie Joe LaCava, I’d snap Tiger’s driver in two and force him to hit tee shots in the fairway with a 3-wood. If that happened, I think Tiger could contend this week. He still has the desire to win and prove something to the young guns on Tour.

The European Ryder Cup team tweaked their selection process last week by adding a 4th captain’s pick for Thomas Bjorn in 2018. What do you think is the best way to select a Ryder Cup team?

Deeks: By the points system, fair and square… assuming the points system IS fair and square. Or, just let President Trump pick the American team.  I’d love to see a Henrik Stenson – Kelly Anne Conway match.

Loughry: Captains picks make it a little more interesting, BUT, I always wonder the true feelings of the player next on the points list when they are slighted for another who is below them. There are exceptions, and obviously that’s why Captains picks exist (a player who is clearly a superstar but was injured for some time where they didn’t earn/keep enough points to earn their way on the team. I don’t think adding a 4th pick will have a significant impact on the end results, when you’re talking about the twelve men on the team, they’re all world class.

Kaplan: They amended a few rules, but didn’t change the one that is affecting the European roster the most — that European players not playing on the European Tour are not eligible to be picked for the team. That is so stupid! Paul Casey and Russell Knox would have made great additions to the team last year but were left off of the roster because they play primarily on the PGA Tour.  The European squad maintains that they want the 12 best European golfers in the world on their team, but they haven’t convinced me yet that this is the case.

Quinn: The Capitano should pick the shirts, not the players. The process is long enough. The top 12 players over the two years — busting their butts to make it—  should be the team. In case of injury or a more lucrative opportunity elsewhere, the captain then picks #13 or #14 and so on as long as the drop outs pile up based on the 2-year rankings – not favours owed, endorsement handshakes, or even god father responsibilities. Merit over two years. As my hero Homer would say: Done and done. It eliminates crony-ism, favourite pal-ism, sponsor-ism, we owe it to him-ism, and the too prevalent ‘WTF I finished 13th and don’t go-ism’. Until sponsors pimped it, and US TV hyper-financed it, it was after all a golf match. Play away!

Mumford: My preference would be for all 12 players to earn their way onto the team based on a 12-month points system – not two years. That way at least they get players who are currently performing well. The only time a captain would have a pick is if a player has to withdraw for injury. And Europe should eliminate the restrictions on where a Euro player plays. At Hazeltine they could have used Paul Casey and Russell Knox. Using Ryder Cup team selection as a lever to keep the best players at home is unnecessary, especially now that European Tour commissioner Keith Pelley has introduced lots of new financial incentives to attract world class fields.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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