Week In Review, March 19-25: Fifth of Four Majors Week

WeekInReview2.jpgSomehow I can't picture Bernard Darwin filing a "fifth major" column if he were (God forbid) forced to cover the Players Championship. Which I guess is my not so subtle way of noting how sad it is that the second annual "fifth major" story watch led to posts here, here, here and here. And just think, next year when they move the Players to May, the inane speculation will start all over again!

Reader Brett asked, "What real "Major" hands out 20 sponsor exemptions? And who do all the sponsor exemptions go to?"

Other Sawgrass talk centered around the impending course overhaul, and thankfully, the installation of so much U.S. Open rough on the course.

Bill Fields in Golf World contrasted the evolution of Sawgrass with Augusta, and became yet another prominent writer to risk a not so friendly Augusta press room greeting.

A flashback of sorts took place, with a look at Ron Whitten's surprising change in stance on the Augusta changes.

John Hawkins blogged about the need to make TPC Sawgrass' 17th hole tougher, prompting me to ask why golf is looking to always make things tougher, while other sports are looking for ways to make their sport better.

Reader Tom Gov set me straight:  "In other sports no one likes to see a one sided blow out. But most spectators like to see two great opponents battling it out on the field. In golf, the only real opponent we have is the course. So as players get better, (whatever the reason) as a spectator, I want to see tougher opponents (in this case the golf course). In basketball the basket wasn't raised and in baseball the bases weren't lengthened. Both opponents just got better and most of the traditions were held in place. In golf, our traditions are being severely challenged by only one of the opponents getting much better."

Reader Josh Hoisington added, "Does anybody remember or more importantly care what Tiger's score was at Augusta 2005? I don't. I do care that I had a great time watching Chris and Tiger battle it out over the back nine, and into the playoff. Heck, I barely even remember the contempt I felt at the changes to the course."

MacDuff kindly shared his latest FedEx Cup points list, and whether you care or not about the Tour's new playoff concept, it raises questions about whether the Tour will install a system that "incentivizes" players to play more often, or one that rewards star power.

Tim Finchem convened the press for a gathering, and I suggested and solicited questions here.  Reader J.P. wanted to ask, "Do you personally own stock in Comcast?"

I dissected the Commissioner's press conference, where many subjects came up, including questions about steroids. Pete the Luddite was surprised by the Tour's weak stance on matter: "Wait until there's a definite problem, the genie's out of the bottle, the integrity of the game is (further) marginalized, the media jumps on the sport as ignoring a problem for too long, and THEN, and only then, maybe possible consider a retrofitted "solution". Apparently, The Commish hasn't watched anything going on with the erosion of baseball's integrity in recent times."

The same Pete shared some fascinating graphs on distance, accuracy and ball striking, and Sean Murphy noted that "the overall driver (thats accuracy and distance combined) the last three years on the PGA Tour did not keep his card."

We looked at SI's recent teachers poll, where teacher Jim Suttie said that the Ohio Golf Association would take individualism out of the game by forcing contestants in an invitational event to try a competition ball.

Smolmania noted that in the limited flight ball event, "The guys who can't bomb it because they aren't capable of swinging the club at 120 mph will have a chance. Yes, they'll still be 40 or 50 yards behind the bombers, but not 100. The bombers will have to hit 5 or 6 irons into par 4s, and might even have to lay up on an occasional long par 5. Oh the horrors."

Don't miss the latest episode in the Sabbatini saga and Nick Faldo's brilliant, early candidate for quote fo the year.

And finally, don't miss Fred Funk's rant on the power game in golf, and how the "little guy" is literally going to be driven out of the game as the shift to certain technologies unfairly rewards taller, stronger players.