Did Rory blow it? Should Tiger end it? Do Jay and Greg need to talk?

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.

Cam Smith put on a masterful display of putting on the tricky Old Course greens to shoot 64 in Sunday’s final round while Rory McIlroy couldn’t make anything, taking 36 putts after hitting all 18 greens in regulation. Smith obviously did what he had to do to win the Open Championship, but do you mark this one down as Rory just got beat by a hot putter or did he blow it?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Not at all.  On any other day, Rory’s 70 would probably have been all he needed.  Smith’s putting was other-worldly, and he couldn’t have shot a lower score to come from behind.  All credit to Cam, and all credit to Rory.  And all credit to Cam Young, who everyone thought would shoot 80 on Day 2 and disappear.  It was a fabulous golf tournament, and the only disappointment was the Peoples’ Champion didn’t win.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: That is a tough call. Rory’s score ties for the 3rd lowest score ever in The Open. He had 18 GIR and 2-putted everything. His game actually reminded me a lot of the way George Knudson played. He hit every green within proximity to never 3-putt but not always close enough to consider he would 1-putt. Sure, Rory could have made a putt or two, but he didn’t miss anything either. People said George was a poor putter and he might have been by TOUR standards, but he was good enough to win eight times. Smith did what he was called upon to do. In fact, after round three everyone, Rory included, thought the tournament was between himself and Victor Hovland. Everyone forgets about Smith and Young, who in a previous life were Smith and Wesson.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The most misleading stat at this Open was greens in regulation, as together the Old Course’s add up to the size of Saskatchewan. Rory hit 18 on Sunday and two-putted them all, but not enough first putts from the right area code. He didn’t blow it, but he sure didn’t give himself a chance to win it. Smith’s putting clinic on Sunday was a wondrous thing to behold — following approaches that were half the distance from the ‘hole location’ than Rory’s — and he deserves every drop of beer that will flow from that jug.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): All credit to Cam Smith for a terrific championship but this was Rory’s win and he blew it. He should have seen all the early low scores and known there was a strong possibility that one of the chasers would go low and he would need to as well. Instead, he played conservative golf and left himself outside birdie range most of the day. He also didn’t make anything when he did have a chance, perhaps another consequence of his non-aggressive play – not wanting to risk a three-putt. Rory’s strategy might have worked at a U.S. Open but not at an Open Championship, where apparently no lead is safe. Just ask Jean van de Velde.

Tiger Woods limped to a missed cut after much hype that St. Andrews was tailormade for him in his condition. It’s pretty clear that Woods is a long way from contending in any major and maybe never will again. He’s 46 years old and in constant pain, unable to practice the way he needs to and unable to perform the way he wants to. He had a great send-off during Friday’s second round, especially his walk up the 18th. Is it time to call it quits?

Deeks: Yes, it is time.  As I said here last week, in speculating that he might call it quits if he didn’t make the cut, I think he should go out as a proud champion, and not like a punch-drunk old fighter.

Schurman: Tiger is still struggling with how to end it. There is a multitude of ways. Make a press conference then walk away. Make an announcement and then play a few high-profile events or play an entire schedule and then walk away at the end of that. Tiger has never given up or quit anything in his life, so this is new ground for him. He might need counselling to learn how best to do it, but his game is gone.

Quinn: There comes a time — even for the self-absorbed fuelled by monumental egos — when reality bites. That time has surely come for Eldrick, in fact Friday in the olde grey toon, it had demonstrably passed. There is a generation with indelible memories — though tainted and blurred by off and on course behavior — of one of sport’s greatest-ever athletes. The current images don’t really have a place in the memory bank.

Mumford: I believe Tiger thrives on fans loving him and is energized by those that hate him (in a metaphorical sporting sense). Tiger also thrives on defying the odds and proving people wrong, so maybe he thinks he has one last comeback in him. Seems like a real longshot to me and even if he does, what’s the point? He’ll never be World #1 again and being an object of pity or a mere shadow of his former greatness isn’t very appealing. Time for Tiger to move on to Phase 2.

While most of the attention during Open week focused on the Championship, LIV Golf was always lurking in the background, whether it was the shabby treatment that past champion Greg Norman received from the R&A, the booing of Ian Poulter on the first tee or the fine play of several LIV golfers that featured on the final leaderboard. Now come reports that Henrik Stenson may jump to LIV Golf and be stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy, Open Champion Cam Smith may also defect, and Jon Rahm has made a plea that he wants Sergio Garcia on his Ryder Cup team. Meanwhile the PGA Tour and DP World Tour continue to play hardball. Isn’t it time the parties came together and tried to work something out?

Deeks: I don’t quite see what compromise could be reached between the two sides, and I for one would be very disappointed if the PGA Tour capitulated.  I hate the very idea of the Saudi Tour, and all of the big-name defectors are, in my view, just greedy, spoiled egotists who have no sense of moral justice.

Schurman: There’s a very big problem here. The LIV TOUR started as a serious competitor because of their ‘deep pockets’ before the PGA TOUR realized they were in about 8th place at the first ‘turn’. Their immediate reaction was what they have done for the past 50 years (since Deane Beman’s reign) blast and bully by using big money and power as weapons. Suddenly, their adversary has 10 times the money and with it, they have attracted a significant number of good players, meaning the PGA TOUR is losing its grip on power. So far, the PGA TOUR has garnered a lot of support through loyalty but what if the LIV Tour decides to up their ante to PGA TOUR players. They don’t care how big the cost becomes. What if they buy another 25 to 50 players at $100M each it only represents 25% of their budget? If the PGA TOUR continues to dig its heels into the ground it might end up with a tour consisting of USA exhibitions plus the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and the four majors. The LIV Tour could hold their own four majors with $100M prize money in each just long enough to choke the life out of their competition. Time to come to the table Jay, it’s too late for Dirty Harry to help you ‘make your day’.

Quinn: The only positive from Woods ceremonial two rounds at St. Andrews was his finally stepping up to the world’s microphones and talking about LIV and the Tour ingrates who populate it. (Talk about ingrates, how about Feherty who has been paid millions more by US TV than he’d ever made as a player). Woods’ dissection of the defectors, including not only the old vets but the young yet-to-be tested, was pointed and gave late but welcome support to Rory and his defence of the Tour and golf its ownself. The R&A has spoken. Qualification for The Open and Ryder Cup teams will be based on current merit, not history. The other keepers of the game must do the same. No need to sit at a table and listen to Norman.

Mumford: Currently LIV Golf has 23 of the Top 100 players in the world, and that number is likely to grow this week. They just signed David Feherty as an announcer and their credibility keeps growing. This despite fanatical opposition to their source of funding and derision about 54-hole events, shotgun starts and contrived team play. The PGA Tour is a bully and has been used to rolling over everything and everybody that stood in the way of expanding their brand and doing it their way. Now, someone is kicking sand in their face. Like him or not, Greg Norman has been advocating a work-together strategy since the beginning of LIV Golf and it’s time Jay Monahan took his call. Who wouldn’t want to listen in on that conversation?

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

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