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Golf Barometer: Surveying the Golf Landscape

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

We're halfway through the majors, let's take a thorough look around the golf landscape.

UPGRADE

Graeme McDowell:
Whenever we see a surprise winner in a major we immediately have to make a call as to whether this is a fluke win or someone who's climbed a level. In the case of McDowell, this looks legit - he's already collected six European Tour wins at age 30, and he's got the balanced temperament you look for in a potentially-great player. There's an excellent chance this will not be his only splash in a major.

Ben Curtis:
He's quietly made four cuts in a row with all of the finishes getting higher, capped by the T4 run at Pebble Beach. Anytime you see a tricky links setup, give Curtis a push forward - he knows how to negotiate on the water.

Shaun Micheel:
The fourth-place check at St. Jude probably didn't get much attention, but Micheel validated the move with a respectable T22 showing at the U.S. Open. He's a respectable sleeper at Hartford this week, in part because of his hot putting (fifth) and consistent scoring (he's fifth there as well).

Alex Cejka:
He's still an adventure on the greens (125th in putting average), but when you strike the ball as well as Cejka consistently does (21st in tee accuracy, 43rd in GIR) you have a chance to contend. Cejka has made nine cuts in his last 10 starts, including a surprising T8 at Pebble Beach.

Brad Faxon, Peter Jacobsen:
It's a little melancholy to see them in the booth and not on the course, but both of these guys have adjusted to the other side of the glass very quickly. As a result, NBC's golf team is probably the best in the business right now, though that's in part due to the presence of the game's best analyst, Johnny Miller.

DOWNGRADE

Michael Sim:
He looked like a possible breakthrough player earlier in the season but Sim's ball striking has fallen into the toilet - he's outside the Top 100 in driving distance, tee accuracy and GIR. Yes, he's still one of the top-60 putters on Tour, but that's not going to bail you out when your tee-to-green game is struggling this much. Sims hasn't cashed a check over $70K since January.

Trevor Immelman:
He's starting to look like one of those one-major flukes. Immelman missed his third consecutive cut last weekend at Pebble Beach, and he hasn't been a weekend factor since the first week of May. Immelman's sand play and scrambling has shaved some strokes, but his loose ball striking is consistently taxing him.

HOLDING STEADY

Tiger Woods:
If you read between the lines, you see Tiger blaming Stevie Williams for some of his wayward shots at Pebble Beach. If you let Williams go, Tiger, it will be one of the biggest mistakes of your pro career. The caddy issues to the side, Woods has shown us that he can still grab Top 5s at majors even without his best stuff, so we have to consider him one of the primary favorites for the last two majors, if not the prohibitive favorite.

Phil Mickelson:
Another near-miss in a U.S. Open, what else is new? At least Mickelson manned up in the interview room and didn't give us a bunch of dismissive comments (that's Tiger's area).

Mike Weir:
An opening-round 70 at Pebble Beach sounded a possible resurgence, but then he threw a 79-83-75 at the field. He's just another guy these days, not someone you automatically start in all formats; another putting whiz who can't seem to negotiate the ball everywhere else on the course at the moment.

Pebble Beach:
There's no denying the beauty of the ocean holes, and when a winning score of a major checks in right at even par, the setup gets validated. But can we please have a rebuild of the greens before we have the 2019 Open back over these grounds?

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