SI convened a meeting of its golf experts—senior writers Michael Bamberger, Damon Hack, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle, plus contributing writer John Garrity—and a PGA Tour pro (who participated on the condition of anonymity) to address those and other issues
CAN WE SALVAGE '09?
Bamberger: I'm having a hard time getting over Tom Watson's heroic British Open. It was such a special course and situation. I'm sure our editor doesn't want to hear this, but it's hard to get psyched for this PGA.
Hack: I know what you mean. We've had three compelling majors, but the winners weren't the guys the public wanted. You still need Tiger in the mix on Sunday.
Shipnuck: It's been a squirrelly year. This PGA needs a marquee champion, whether it's Tiger or ... who else is there? We could've had three epic major winners. Instead we've had three nice players; good guys who create zero buzz outside of our little golf world.
Garrity: The British Open wasn't a total downer. It will stick in our memories because it was so extraordinary with Watson. In that regard, it's a little like Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie. No one remembers Paul Lawrie's win, but we're still talking about that Open.
Van Sickle: What would be the best story at the PGA?
Anonymous Pro: If Tiger comes back from missing the cut at the British, that would be big. What a feel-good story it would be if Phil Mickelson won after what his family has gone through. Phil would actually be the bigger story. Tiger is struggling to hit fairways, but Phil's family has real-life struggles that tug on your heartstrings. The next best story would be Kenny Perry, or anyone who lost one of the other majors, bouncing back and redeeming himself.
Shipnuck: If we had Sergio García winning his first major, that would be big. Or Paddy Harrington finding himself or Ernie Els coming back from the dead. We need a guy with star power. That would help the tournament and give the year some definition. Everything is wide open right now—player of the year, all of it. It's the year of what could have been.
Bamberger: In '99 Tiger hadn't won a major all year, and going into the PGA at Medinah, we thought, Eh, how interesting can this be? Then we get Sergio and Tiger. Whenever Tiger wins, it's interesting. I'm going to Hazeltine with low expectations, but if we get there and Tiger plays well and wins number 15, we'll talk about Jack and 18 majors and who's the greatest of all time.