July 30, 2012
Updated: July 30, 2012, 2:06 PM ET
It’s double the fun on the PGA Tour this week as the world’s best golfers venture to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational while those not qualified for Akron journey to the opposite-field event at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
With the year’s final major just a couple of weeks away and precious Ryder Cup points up for grabs, who will make a jump in the standings?
Our experts analyze all that and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The good news is he can’t miss the cut! The bad news is, he can’t miss the cut. That first tournament back after a crash and burn is always the hardest because everyone will be coming around saying, “Sorry man, we were pulling for ya.” I do still believe, though, that Scott can finish top-30 with a strong weekend.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Adam Scott has to prove to himself that his breakdown at Royal Lytham wasn’t the beginning of a slow decline in his confidence. He will be fired up to put the Open Championship behind him. Bridgestone is a no-cut event, so Scott has four days to work out his nerves and sort through any lingering memories from Lytham.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: This will be fascinating to witness and it’s really impossible to predict. On one side, remember, Scott played very nicely at the Open and for 68 holes was incredible. He really hit just one bad full shot over the last four holes, and his putting let him down. It’s hard to imagine his long game will have left him in two weeks, but what are we to make of him emotionally? That is the big question this week.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Honestly, not much. With it being a no-cut event, he’ll at least get four rounds under his belt. But after bogeying the final four holes and handing the Claret Jug to Ernie Els at Royal Lytham, any expectation for Scott in the near future should be tempered a bit.
Michael Collins: Is there anyone who embodies the word grinder more than Jim Furyk on tour? No, he has not played all that great this year, but when it comes to a team and head-to-head battle, there is no one outside the top 12 I’d rather go into battle with. No matter where he is in the rankings, I expect Captain Love will choose him.
Farrell Evans: Bo Van Pelt. The 37-year-old former Oklahoma State star got his seventh top-10 of the year in Canada. At 14th in the standings, the next two weeks are key to his chances of making his first Ryder Cup team. Medinah would almost be like a home game for Van Pelt, an Indiana native.
Bob Harig: Jim Furyk. It is difficult to envision Furyk making the team on his own at this point, and it is difficult to imagine him being left off. He’s played on every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team dating to 1997. He was 5-0 last year at the Presidents Cup. It is simply too tough to pass up that experience in such a difficult setting. This is exactly why there are captain’s picks.
Kevin Maguire: Steve Stricker. Putting wins Ryder Cup matches and Stricker does that better than most, especially in clutch situations. He’s currently 13th in the standings, so there’s a good chance he’ll need to be a captain’s pick by Davis Love III. And if Love needs a little coaxing, Tiger Woods will surely lobby for his longtime playing partner to make the American squad.
Michael Collins: Thumbs down. I feel like I’ve just gotten over the headache of the old International tournament in Denver. It’s a big enough pain trying to figure out the FedEx Cup points coming down the stretch on that Sunday, now you’re bringing back the “cricket match” scoring I didn’t like in the first place? No thanks.
Farrell Evans: Thumbs up. When the Stableford system was used at the now-defunct International, it was very popular with the players. I remember vividly Steve Lowery‘s eagle and double-eagle on the back nine at the 2002 International. It was very exciting golf.
Bob Harig: Big thumbs up? Why not? Events such as this should do all they can to distinguish themselves, and it wouldn’t hurt if another tournament or two tried something similar.
Kevin Maguire: Thumbs up. I’m not saying they should change the Olympic format to this, but it’s always good to change things around, especially at an opposite-field event.
Michael Collins: It can seem like a little bit of overkill, but it’s not. It’s like every weekend of college or pro football, which has a “big game” or two. This is a stretch of the top golf on the toughest courses on every level. For those who say the courses pros play are too easy … they weren’t watching these past few weeks.
Farrell Evans: Majors are special and they should all be spaced out so that each one can get the attention that it deserves. Lytham was such a deeply emotionally exhausting affair for most people that it would have been nice to have a moment to reflect before jumping right into the next major. Fred Couples had a big win at the Senior British Open, but I’m not sure most of us were ready or attentive enough to take it on so close to the end of Els’ win at Royal Lytham.
Bob Harig: This is more a product of scheduling than too many majors, but most definitely the Champions Tour — and next year the LPGA — have one too many majors each. Four majors is clearly the standard, and to add another just doesn’t make sense. But both tours will have five. And it does make for scheduling woes as we’ve seen over the past month, which is not good for the golf-viewing public which can’t keep everything straight.
Kevin Maguire: Granted, they are mostly on different tours, but yes, too many majors. The Champions Tour has five and the LPGA Tour will have a handful starting in 2013, which runs counter to traditional golf culture. Too much of a good thing tends to spoil the pot, and that’s the case here.