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.
After Rory McIlroy beat Xander Schauffele on the first playoff hole to win the WGC-HSBC Champions, Schauffele remarked that “when Rory’s on, I’d say he’s arguably the best player in the world”. Do you agree?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Ha! Saying he’s “arguably” the best player in the world ISN’T saying he’s the best player in the world. It’s like telling some blowhard who insists that climate change is a hoax, “you may be right” … which concedes nothing. In any case, I firmly believe Rory is the best player in the world, even during periods when he’s not “on”. I don’t think there’s anyone playing professional golf today who has more talent, and a better attitude and perspective on his life, than Rory. Of course, he’s going to go through mini-slumps, and periods when Koepka, Spieth and others play a little better. But pound-for-pound, I’d say Rory’s the best of this era.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: When Rory is on there’s no question he has to be considered. The big question is Tiger’s health. It is starting to look like this Tiger return has some merit. If so, I can’t anoint Rory until he goes head-to-head with Tiger. I thought Rory was IT until he ‘spit the bit’ against Brooks K. To be the best one has beat the other top players on-on-one and dominate regular good players at other times.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Not really. That argument could be made about any of the Top 5 — maybe even the Top 10 — golfers in the world. That’s why they hold their current positions in the OWGR. There’s really no way to determine it either because the odds of each of the Top 10 players in the world firing on all cylinders of their game at the same time in the same tournament are astronomical!
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Absolutely. He’s the best driver of the golf ball, meaning he puts himself in scoring position more often than others, and when he’s on, his wedge game only has to be average and his putting slightly above average in order to contend and even win. So, when his putter gets hot, nobody can beat him in my mind.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Having been saying that for years, good to hear Xander too stating the obvious. I think we and all of golf nation look forward to the Sunday of a Major when Rory and Koepka are both healthy and ‘on song’ as the Aussies say and playing in the final pairing. That day, I’d wager a ducat or two on the kid from Holywood.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Some of us have felt that way since Rory burst on the scene at Quail Hollow in 2010 and then began collecting major championships the following year. He’s always had that mythical aura of invincibility about him when he’s on; and the feeling that the only thing that can beat him is himself. Right now, I’d suggest there are only two players in addition to McIlroy, who may be capable of wearing that crown: Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods. Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas are close but let’s face it, none of them strike fear into the hearts and minds of their opponents like Rory, Brooks and Tiger.
An incident during LPGA qualifying saw two players, Kendall Dye and Dewi Weber, assessed two-stroke penalties for violating Rule 10.2 Advice and Other Help. Much of the transgression involved communications between their caddies. The whole thing was splashed into public view via a series of Twitter posts by the third player in their group, Christina Kim. What’s your take on Kim’s actions on Twitter when she could clearly have said something to either player during the round? And, when it’s OK to look into a competitor’s bag to see what club they hit, should it be a violation if you ask or they tell?
Deeks: Oh, good Lord, here we go again with silly rules, and mean-spirited competitors hiding behind “purity” to shame their fellow players and get them penalized. I have never been a fan of Christina Kim, and this is yet another reason why. You’re absolutely right… she could’ve said something quietly, because in a spirit of good sportsmanship, one should assume that neither of the others was deliberately transgressing the rules. As for looking into a competitor’s bag, honestly, who the hell cares? Regardless of which club the other player chose, and whether it affects your choice, you still have to hit the shot with whichever stick is in your hand… so does the knowledge you “gained” make any difference? (One day I’m going to write a book called The Rules is an Ass. A Nobel winner for sure.)
Schurman: Christina Kim has made a career out of putting on a show with very little to support it. This situation brings light to many discussions beginning with the stupidity of the rule. You can look in the bag. You can look at the club as the player holds it. You can ID the club by looking at it behind the ball, but you can’t talk about it. Wow! Next, it is incumbent on every player to be an absolute rules expert. As such, the rules become your friend not something you avoid until you are caught in a scandal. Next, issues like this are part of the reason a large majority of people who either don’t like the world of golf or don’t play by the rules.
Kaplan: Kim was in a no-win situation. She would’ve gotten called out for getting in her playing partners’ heads if she had told them at the time, yet clearly took some heat for waiting as long as she did. So, I don’t know what the correct method would have been. I probably would have told them at the time, otherwise it would have distracted me for the rest of my round. I’ve never understood the fact that you can look and see but not ask. Makes no sense to me. Seems like asking is the polite thing to do, and it should be the player’s choice whether they reveal that information or not. Good thing I don’t make the rules.
Rule: It is a strange rule given that you are allowed to peek into their bag to see the club they hit. However, the rule is clear, and Kim shouldn’t be vilified for calling them out and “protecting the field”. It’s her duty to do so. Now perhaps she could have handled it differently by informing the players during the round, but ultimately, she had to call the penalty.
Quinn: Such a weird rule — look but don’t ask — yet, it is golf after all. Of course, it would be nuts to ask a competitor what club they used; even more idiotic to answer. The embarrassment should be enough, no penalty needed. Still this incident is wrong on so many levels. Suffice to say that Kim has a difficult personality, as her professing grand love and friendship for the girls she hung out to roast demonstrates. Would you mention something to a dear friend right away? Or would a self-described champion of the game’s honesty and integrity wait and then tweet? It has been a great few years as Kim hasn’t played well enough to get on broadcasts. Maybe that’s what this is all about.
Mumford: Kim’s not the culprit here. She has a duty to protect the field, although she sure could have handled it better. As far as the Rule goes, it is pretty odd that you can look but you can’t ask. Odd that this only happens in medal play. I can’t imagine it happening in a match. Then it’s pretty clear the other player is your OPPONENT. And you’re not giving him or her any advantage.
CBS has announced that they have hired Davis Love III to replace fired commentators Gary McCord and Peter Kostis. How do you think Love will do in his new role?
Schurman: I think he will be fine. In fact, I see him being a bit like Johnny Miller from the point of view of honesty. He certainly has the experience and should bring a lot of knowledge. TV has to do something new and different. Feherty is the best followed closely by ‘Bones’ MacKay’! Although I am not a fan of his, a top prospect might be Phil.
Kaplan: Davis Love III . . . Are you kidding me?!? Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
Rule: My first impression was that he isn’t the most dynamic personality and if you’re trying to attract a younger crowd to golf, not sure he’s the guy. He’s knowledgeable but I’m not going to be tuning in to CBS because he’s on the crew. I’ll miss Kostis for sure, he was a true pro and one of the best in the biz!
Quinn: So, McCord was told he was ‘stale.’ How the heck is CBS describing Love 3? Descriptives that won’t work include fresh. Others are dynamic, provocative, charismatic, TV-tested etc. etc. And so it goes. The most vital tool in the golf fan’s arsenal is still the mute button.
Mumford: Love brings lots of authenticity to the role but ultimately, he’s just more vanilla in a vanilla parfait. I don’t see it as moving in a new direction at all. Fresh face, same play.