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Shipnuck: Go back three or four years. Anybody remember the Fab Four? Retief Goosen must be in the witness-protection program or something. Ernie Els is basically done. Vijay Singh hasn't been a factor in a major in years. And Phil Mickelson's career hasn't been the same since Winged Foot. Yes, we all want Anthony Kim to be the guy, but he may still be a few years away. Sergio Garc�a has a lot of brain damage from his close losses. Look at the best of the best who are supposed to challenge Tiger in '09—they're nothing but question marks.
Anonymous Pro: Sergio is the only one of the top players who made significant strides in his game.
Shipnuck: Sergio is on the upswing. His putting is a work in progress but it's gotten better.
Bamberger: Sergio drives it better than Tiger and probably hits his irons every bit as well. His chipping is close, and he hits it so well, he barely needs to make putts. Vijay won a lot without being a great putter.
Garrity: Does that mean we're writing off Phil?
Shipnuck: A few people close to Phil said this was the worst putting year he has ever had. You can't dismiss the fallout from Winged Foot. He hasn't contended in a major since.
Van Sickle: When he showed up at Torrey Pines without a driver, it made no sense.
Shipnuck: Phil is the alltime great feel player. He's working with Butch Harmon and Dave Pelz, and he's almost paralyzed by too much information. Phil and Pelz have a device that measures slope. They're trying to turn putting into a science when it's an art. When Phil was winning majors, that was the right formula. Now it seems like the problem.
Garrity: Changing from an instinctive player and doing all that preparation were what got him to winning majors, though. You can't turn your back on that.
Van Sickle: Phil started winning majors when he mastered a cut shot, got his driver in play and quit putting himself in position to have to hit go-for-broke shots. Maybe the torch has already passed, since Sergio has inched past Phil as No. 2.