This is a new feature I’m going to be trying here at GoodWalk, called “Chip Shots”. Each week, fellow golf blogger (and New Englander) Emily Kay and I will pick a topic or two to discuss in a roundtable sort of fashion. Some of you may know Emily from both the Boston and National Golf Examiner, as well as recently joining Waggleroom. Emily has great knowledge in to the game we love, as well as a very witty sense of humor that frequently makes me chuckle. You can also follow Emily on Twitter @golfexaminer. We hope you enjoy this feature and please feel free to join the discussion, and also submit any feedback or ideas for topics.
OWGR aside, is Graeme McDowell the #1 player right now, and playing better than anybody in the world?
Jeff: If we forget about OWGR, I definitely don’t think that anybody is playing better than G-Mac right now. He took down Tiger in tough fashion at the Chevron, and his showing this past weekend in Hawaii, with a closing course record of 62 was pretty phenomonal. Not to mention how great he looked at the Ryder Cup a few months ago. It will be interesting to see how long he can keep it up, but his ranking will surely be skyrocketing soon. Shame that he’s taking a few weeks off because he’s fun to watch.
Emily: Looks like GMac might have dodged a monsoon in Hawaii this week, with the opening round of the Sony Open pushed back to Friday. The plan’s to get the first two rounds in Friday and Saturday, with 36 on Sunday but the weather’s not very promising. But back to McDowell, who’s definitely the hottest player on the planet these days. Seems to me that golf’s No. 1 (if the OWGR is your bible) Lee Westwood ought to be more concerned about McDowell snatching away his top ranking than Tiger at No. 2 or either of the other pretenders to the throne — Phil Mickelson or Martin Kaymer.
Jeff: I agree, nobody seems hotter right now. And he’s gaining an even more worldwide following and fanbase, which is great to see. he’s easy to root for. I think you are right that Westwood should be looking over his shoulder at him, but I still think Tiger will be the first to dethrone him this year, even for a little bit. Mickelson doesn’t have a prayer. we’ve seen what he’s already done with his opportunities.
Emily: Oh, did I mention Lefty? You’re right — he shouldn’t even be in the convo. Mickelson certainly couldn’t get it done when he had the chances throughout last season, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his psoriatic arthritis is having a much larger impact on him than he’ll let on. As for Tiger, who knows? He seemed to be coming around at the end of last season, especially at the Chevron. But then he let — guess who – McDowell turn a seemingly sure victory into defeat. Rumor has it that Woods’ new swing is gorgeous, but the aura is certainly gone and was long before you-know-what. Hard to imagine another 0-fer season for Tiger, but he’s no sure thing anymore.
Jeff: Tiger is definitely a mystery at this point. But I surprisingly find myself sort of rooting for him, which you know is crazy because I’ve said many times I’ve never been a huge “Tiger guy”. But everyone loves a comeback right? Definitely hard to imagine another winless year, and a lot of people are more interested in how many times he’ll win this year vs. if he’ll win at all. I like that the aura is gone though and that his competitors certainly don’t seem to be “afraid” of him any longer. Makes for much better competition I think, because I hated always seeing players fall apart at the sight of him.
Emily: Don’t know if I should admit this but I’ve always been a fan of Tiger the golfer and would enjoy watching him regain some of what he’s lost. But whether he does or not, there are a couple of players in the Sony Open field this week making remarkable comebacks from situations not of their own making. Steven Bowditch is fortunate to be anywhere — let alone in Hawaii on the PGA Tour — after severe depression led him to try to kill himself several years ago. Golf World’s Jim Moriarty wrote an extremely moving piece in 2009 about the private hell Bowditch endured until he got help. And how can you not root for Robert Garrigus — amazingly, the longest hitter on tour who uses the shortest putter known to humankind — who has dealt with his own drug and alcohol addictions? Truly inspirational.
Jeff: Definitely a couple great stories. Like I said, everybody loves a comeback! I don’t know much about Bowditch or his story, but certainly sounds intriguing and you have to root for him. Garrigus is another great story. After the whole Kornheiser comment last year and for him to come back and win and basically give Tony the proverbial middle finger, was great. He’s got the “everyman” aspect going on and you have to love his story. A lot of guys would rather keep that hush hush, but kudos to him for not shying away from it. Oh and his putter looks like the thing my 2-year old drags around the house!
Emily: No kidding! I’m little more than five feet tall and I’d have to bend over to use that thing.
And on that note, Jeff, here’s hoping Rex Ryan and the J-E-T-S JetsJetsJets have to eat their words. Go, Pats!