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.
US Presidents Cup Captain Tiger Woods selected Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed and himself for his four captain’s picks. How surprised are you that he took Reed over Rickie Fowler?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I’m quite surprised that he took Reed over Fowler AND Corey Conners… in fact, that he took Reed at all. Based on Reed’s past behaviour (dating back to college when he was considered a cheat and a non-team player, not to mention his self-absorbed comments following the last Ryder Cup), his me-first attitude, and his unpopularity with fellow players on both sides of the competition, I would’ve made a point to leave him off the team. (“There’s no I in ’team’”, right? You can use this line… I just made it up.) I think it’s the exact opposite with Fowler, who’s good, competitive, popular with players and fans, and who has enough class to appreciate the invitation vs. expecting it.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Very surprised he brought the master of distraction Captain America over America’s darling Rickie. But as they say, Rickie put himself in that position (as did Reed) based off his/their play. I don’t think the US team has much to worry about in terms of competition though, so Tiger could take some controversial picks if he wanted too. All I know is that reed and his wife and family add a nice ticking time bomb to the whole event, which gives more of a reason to actually watch.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: I would have picked Reed too! They are going there to win and should take their most competitive players. Patrick’s record in matches is 37.5% to Rickie’s 25%. He is enthusiastic, energetic and exciting. Some might say he has a problem in the locker-room while Rickie doesn’t. In that case, maybe the USA is strong enough they don’t need Reed and can rely on the rest of the team while enjoying themselves more. One way they might enjoy things more is if Patrick left his wife at home. That would cut the problem in half.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Not surprised at all. Fowler took the fall off to get married, which essentially sealed his Presidents Cup chances in my books. If you’re on the cusp but haven’t played in months, I don’t know why you’d expect to make the team. Reed has been playing a lot this fall and he’s been very good with finishes of 15th or better in each of his last five starts. Plus, regardless of how you feel about Reed, he has demonstrated that he has the chops to be a match play god. Hopefully, Tiger is able to harness Reed’s intensity and competitiveness in a way that benefits the Americans.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I, for one, was very surprised at the Patrick Reed selection over…well, anyone else. He’s a divisive figure and doesn’t seem to have the best relationship with some of the other players, whereas Rickie seems to be loved by all. Reed is a passionate player who often rises to the occasion and seemingly has a good relationship with Tiger, so I guess those are the reasons he was chosen. I’m disappointed personally because I’m not a fan, but I do really like Fowler, so I’d rather him be there. It’ll be a great event, nonetheless.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Not surprising based on current play, given that Fowler hasn’t teed it up since last summer, and recently picked up a viral infection on his Mexican honeymoon. It’s surprising however in that the only player on Tour who can stand Reed is the egomaniac himself. And given that it would take a series of miracles for the Yanks to lose, why add a jerk to the room?
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): We should never be surprised by anything Tiger does, either on or off the golf course. Fowler and Reed both have team experience and Rickie would be an easy choice. Reed has more baggage that could play into team chemistry and pairings, but I suspect Tiger has a plan for that too.
Brooks Koepka is listed as doubtful for the Presidents Cup in December. Does Woods automatically go to Fowler or dig deeper on the list to Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Jordan Spieth or someone else?
Deeks: I think he owes it to the system to go to the guy who’s next on the list, based on results to date, period. Cherry-picking makes the meritocracy a farce.
Loughry: Tiger’s last call was to Fowler as I understand it, so if Brooks is out, he has to go to Rickie. If he doesn’t, then something is up. I have no idea what, but I don’t see Tiger skipping Fowler for Na or anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with Na, Kisner or Spieth, I just think Rickie is a better overall player right now than any of them and fits nicely in pairings. I will add that Na is trending in the right direction, he’s playing some good golf right now, but I’d stick with Rickie as my replacement for BK.
Schurman: Having just supported Reed (above) it’s difficult for me to now say Fowler based on standings, but I am.
Kaplan: I like Kisner for that final spot if Koepka isn’t on the team. He’s such a gritty player and seems to me like the type of guy who would respond to being named as a replacement pick with some inspired, incendiary play. Kisner is clutch and I won’t lie, I want to watch him suit up for the Yanks in a few weeks.
Rule: Spieth would be an interesting choice because he has turned his game around and is again one of the best putters on the planet, which is huge in a team event. However, I think he has to go with Fowler if Koepka is out.
Quinn: He is next on the points list, so if he’s healthy, he should be heading to Oz. If this Cup was a contest, then one of the other guys would be picked.
Mumford: I think he should pick Phil to keep Lefty’s streak alive. Then he should pair himself with Phil both days in alternate shot. It will prove absolutely nothing, but the entertainment value will be through the roof.
Several recent DQ’s from professional and college tournaments involved players not signing their scorecard. The Rule book states that it’s the players responsibility to check and sign their card before it’s official. Do the scoring officials not bear some responsibility to ensure there is a signature on the card before the player is allowed to leave the scoring area?
Deeks: I believe it’s the responsibility of BOTH parties — players and officials — to ensure that the regulations are adhered to. I’m no fan of “rules” but I do believe procedures are put in place for the protection of everyone and consistency/integrity of the system. It’s pretty dumb of a player to forget to sign — especially when they know the consequences — but mistakes do happen and I think it’s incumbent on the officials to check (and react, if necessary) before the offending player leaves the tent, or the property. Disqualification is embarrassing (and costly) for the player, but only mildly embarrassing for the tournament… there should be more severe consequences for officials who don’t do the simple task of verification.
Loughry: So, this is and will always be the Players responsibility, not any scoring official. Those scoring officials are certainly there to help, but if the player jumps into the scoring area and vacates quickly because of a bad bogey on 18 (or some other dumb reason) because they’re heated, that’s not the official’s fault. It takes but a minute or two just to review the scorecard and sign it, if you can’t wait that long and do those simple things EVERY TIME YOU TEE IT UP, then you deserve any consequences. Its been this way for decades, and even college players should be accustomed to this process, so there are no excuses I can see that would justify missing this.
Schurman: Absolutely NO! The entirety of the tournament’s events falls on the player every time. He/she is the CEO of the player’s company. There is ample opportunity to request rulings, information and even know the rules before the card is signed. Given these examples are college tournaments I am even more adamant. If they were professional tour events where there is plenty of support for the scores posted, perhaps I’d be more lenient but when the sole source comes from the player and the marker the answer is ‘no way’. If you remove this significant process, you erode a portion of the honour that helps bond the moral fibre of the game. This is far more than just a tradition.
Kaplan: They certainly do. These rules, which amount to nothing more than clerical errors, need to be rooted out of the game. I don’t understand why the penalty for incorrectly signing a scorecard is so harsh. It doesn’t make sense. Golf is already excessively penal. Issuing automatic DQs for forgetting to sign your name on a scorecard is a joke. After all, it’s not like there are any serial scorecard offenders out there . . .
Rule: Absolutely. I don’t understand how that can happen when multiple people (scorer, player, scoring official) have to verify signatures before you leave the scorer’s tent. I just don’t get it, I play in tournaments occasionally, and remember standing up to walk away before signing one of the two cards I need to sign, but the official scorer (or two) pulled me back in when they noticed the blank space. I can’t imagine that not happening at higher level tournaments.
Quinn: The blazers sitting across the table should notice when a signature is missing, but these players have been taught to check the math and then sign since they were in grade school. It’s not landing jumbo jets. It’s pretty dang simple, even for golfers.
Mumford: It is solely the player’s responsibility to make sure he signs his card. The scorers might remind him but who knows what confusion reigns at the scoring table. There’s no way a player should have an out on this by blaming the scorer. Just sign the card or accept disqualification. The thing is, it usually only happens once per lifetime. If you ever do it, you’ll kick yourself for being stupid, but you’ll never do it again.