Rory, Davis and the Rules of Golf

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.

Rory McIlroy made a dramatic return to the winner’s circle after making a putting change. His stats for ball striking have been consistently strong all season so it looks like the putter was the only thing holding him back. Does Rory’s win change the outlook for the balance of the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Glad to see Rory back, and yes, I think right in the thick of the FedEx Cup, which I have never understood nor, frankly, tried to understand.  Wouldn’t it be great to see Rory, Jordan, Jason going down to the wire!  Nonetheless, I’m far more interested in the Ryder, and a McIlroy in top form will no doubt be a motivator for his Euro team.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Good for Rory, he was quickly slipping out of the “big three”. I don’t/didn’t doubt his talent. Does this change the FEDEX outlook and Ryder Cup? Well, some may forget he won at TPC Boston back in 2011, so he obviously doesn’t mind the course and knows it pretty well. Crooked Stick is a fairly new course, one he probably hasn’t played. Let’s see how he makes out there before jumping ahead. As for the Ryder Cup, it’s a BOMBER’s delight, and I think Rory will be pretty good there anchoring the Euro’s. Sure adds to the allure of the event at the right time.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’ve always maintained that Rory has the most natural talent of anybody on Tour. Unfortunately, he manages to get in his own way with self-inflicted controversies, off course distractions and questionable training methods. If Rory is now clicking on all cylinders, then the rest of the players will be watching his dust all the way to the cheque presentation at East Lake. And if he can continue the pace at Hazeltine it will be a huge psychological lift for the European Ryder Cup team too.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Great to see Rory finally play well, and recover from a terrible first 3 holes of the tournament and win for the first time in a long while.  He has shown to be a pretty streaky player, so let’s hope this streak continues through the Ryder Cup, and I think it will.  Does he have a chance at the FedEx title?  I suppose as good as any at this time – he just has to win one of the last two probably.

Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): If Rory has indeed gotten his groove back, then the rest of the field had better watch their backs. McIlroy is one of, if not the most, naturally skilled players in the game today.  It would not surprise me one bit if the Northern Irishman swept the last three events to win his first FedEx Cup.

US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love has four wild card picks yet to make for his team. Did anybody advance their cause at the Deutsche Bank to be a selection or did anybody slip?

Loughry: This one is easy, nobody did anything on the bubble of a pick in this event, so it’s status quo.

Rule: It sure didn’t seem like anyone did anything to help their cause, with none of the guys in consideration being in contention over the weekend.  But I don’t think anyone hurt their chances much either.  Mostly because nobody jumped up and put their name in the hat by playing well.

Deeks: Looking at the latest standings, it doesn’t appear that much motion occurred… Bubba, J.B., Rickie and Kooch all maintained their 9-12 positions, albeit slightly turned around.  That doesn’t guarantee that any of them will be selected, but I’d find it hard to imagine why Davis would choose someone else over any of them.  The only person I could see Davis favouring might be Furyk, who’s currently in 15th spot, has a lot of Ryder experience (not great, though: 10-20-4), and who made the cut this week while Bubba didn’t… but surely that one result wouldn’t seal the deal.

Kaplan: Not a very impressive performance from any of the Yankees last week who are sitting on the bubble of that Ryder Cup roster.  Rickie Fowler has now shot over par in consecutive final rounds — a worrying stat, to be sure!

Mumford: Captain Love has a tough choice. He can go with veteran Ryder Cup losers like Fowler, Kuchar, Bubba and Furyk or he can add a bunch of rookies. Nobody did anything to change their position in Boston which maybe tells you everything you need to know about the players outside the automatic selections. Unless someone shows something this week in Indiana, I’d go with the rookies.

The game’s governing bodies announced that they are trying to simplify the Rules of Golf to make them easier to understand and follow. Do you believe that’s possible and, given how traditional the governing bodies are, do you think they can get it right?

Deeks: Yes, it’s possible to change the Rules, and yes, it should happen.  (Personally, I’d throw the existing Rule Book away and start from scratch, making the rules fair, realistic, intelligent, and less punitive – i.e., counter-enjoyable… all of which they currently ain’t!) Can they get it right?  Highly doubtful… as long as it’s a process managed by a bunch of stiffs in blazers.

Loughry: Rules! Is anyone happy with the Rules in any game? It seems all we do is complain about them in any sport. They won’t please the masses, and they will not make catastrophic changes, but the process sounds sound. I do expect that over time they will make some improvements to the Rules and simplifying them for better understanding and perhaps having more golfers subscribe to them. I appreciate them taking a serious look at this and their willingness to take on the negative criticism that will surely ensue, and the “I told you so’s” that are no doubt to follow.

Rule: When I first heard about this I was excited, because the rules of golf are so hard to read.  But we’ll have to wait and see what they can do to really simplify them.  The governing bodies are coming together on more and more issues, so there is hope!

Kaplan: I applaud the effort but I am confident that they will not get it right.  The NFL has been trying to define what a “catch” is for half a decade now and somehow the term’s definition is greyer now than it has ever been before.  A catch! It’s so simple … and yet, so complicated. So, call me a cynic, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the USGA to simplify golf’s convoluted rules.

Mumford: Not only is it possible to change the Rules of Golf, it’s absolutely vital to the health of the game to make them simpler. I strongly doubt that the governing bodies can do it though and as I mentioned in a recent column, I’m supported in that view by the late Albert Einstein, quite possible a Saturday hacker himself, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”

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

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