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Who, What, Why in 2011
Michael Bamberger
December 13, 2010
With the calendar about to flip, Golf+ challenged senior writers Michael Bamberger, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle to conjure the questions that will shape the new season and then provide the answers
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December 13, 2010

Who, What, Why In 2011

With the calendar about to flip, Golf+ challenged senior writers Michael Bamberger, Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle to conjure the questions that will shape the new season and then provide the answers

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6 Now that they're 30, can Sergio García or Adam Scott be relevant again?

OF COURSE. Remember, Ben Hogan and Phil Mickelson didn't win a major until 34. That said, these guys don't resemble Hogan . . . unless you're talking about shaky putting. Maybe the two have become complacent. García and Scott each have won $20 million--plus on the PGA Tour and plenty more in other endorsements and winnings. Factor in the futility of going up against a guy you know you can't beat—the former Tiger Woods—and that's an understandable disincentive.

The truth is, neither Scott nor García was a great putter, and lately they've scraped bottom. In 2010 Scott ranked well below 100 in most putting categories from three to 15 feet, this just two years after he was No. 1 in the 10- to 15-foot range. With his yippy stroke, García (above, left) tried assorted grips, stances and teachers, but his woes inevitably worked through his entire bag and into his head. Scott (above, right), in fact, was never irrelevant. He won twice in 2010, ranks 20th in the world and has won at least one significant event for 10 straight years. Sergio, winless since mid-'08, has never seemed so lost.

—G.V.S.

7 With the U.S. Open heading to Congressional Country Club, and hard-core golfers running the executive and legislative branches, and taxpayer-owned GM reentering the sponsorship biz, will Washington finally embrace golf again?

WASHINGTON CAN get its golf mojo back if President Obama can get his political mojo back. The President was pushed to golf by the First Lady, the sister of Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson. Michelle Obama was afraid that her hubby, with 50 on the horizon, would get hurt playing pickup basketball, and as a result of one swift elbow to the mouth last month, the entire country had the chance to see her point (a dozen presidential stitches to the lip). It's easy to imagine less hoops and more golf for the President in 2011, and an improving economy too. That will be good for golf and will help the game reclaim its place in the nation's capital. GM's return to golf is significant. It says that the marketing people there are not afraid of golf; in fact, they are just the opposite: We recognize golfers as tax-paying, car-buying model citizens (they vote), and we want to be associated with them. If GM is embracing golfers, and not afraid of backlash, elected officials should too. President Obama and soon-to-be house speaker John Boehner will have a chance in the New Year to show what a companionable game golf is. Suggested programming note to NBC: Arrange for the President and the Speaker to play Congressional before the U.S. Open, mike 'em up and see what happens.

—M.B.

8 Do aging multiple major champions Ernie Els (41), Retief Goosen (41), Padraig Harrington (39) and Vijay Singh (47) have one last hurrah in them?

IF LAST HURRAH means winning again, sure, they can all win Tour events. If it means winning majors, it's hard to imagine any of them winning one of the game's four biggest prizes. Singh, who turns 48 in February, will never be able to beat balls as he has done in the past, and his long, all-in-the-timing swing requires more ball beating than most other actions. With Els (below), when was the last time he put together four really solid rounds in a major, even without winning? His final-round 73 at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was the ultimate rally-killer. Harrington has never been a knock-your-socks-off talent, so all that leaves is drive, and he's too smart and interested in the world and his family to stay hyperfocused on golf. Goosen, the same: Between his various houses and vineyards, his growing kids and the comforting knowledge that the next generation of South African golfers is on the scene (hello, Louis Oosthuizen), it's hard to see where the drive would come from. To win, you have to beat Rory and Ryo and Matteo, to say nothing of Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and a possibly resurgent Tiger Woods. That takes a lot of energy and skill, great nerves and massive desire.

—M.B.

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