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Golf Barometer: Simpson Saved by Irons

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.

UPGRADE

Webb Simpson:
It's impressive to see him win on a U.S. Open setup because he hits the ball everywhere - he stands 152nd in total driving. But Simpson's iron play is outstanding and his putting is excellent and he somehow has the highest birdie average on tour despite his issues in the tee box. Simpson's trophy hoist also came on the heels of two missed cuts, so throw out the form argument. I don't expect a magical career to open up for Simpson, but I'll be shocked if he doesn't win another major or two along the way.

Michael Thompson:
After the 66 out of nowhere Thursday, it would have been easy to pack it in when he threw nine shots back to par on the next two days. Instead, Thompson gritted his teeth and willed his way through a 67 on Sunday, just missing a playoff by one shot. With 11 checks cashed on the season and a cool $1.2 million banked, this won't be the last we hear of Thompson. He's a Top-5 putter in the stats this season, and he's been strong in final-round scoring (27th).

Jim Furyk:
Sure, it was disappointing to watch him fall apart over the last three holes. OK, he's slower than dial-up Internet. But it was inspiring to see Furyk still a major contender at age 42, and he's obviously fixed the putting problem that dogged him in 2011. There's a lot of strong golf left in his bag.

Jason Dufner:
He could have walked away with the tournament if his putter were working - he had a sublime weekend of ball striking. But a T4 check further establishes Dufner as one of the major players to consider in any big event; now that he has winning out of the way, there's nothing likely to stop him. The British Open will be a crap shoot, but he has an outstanding chance at the PGA Championship.

John Senden:
Like Dufner, here's another player who had radar irons most of the week but a leaky putter. Still, how disappointed can anyone be with a T10 check at a major? Senden has quietly banked four big checks this year, pushing his way into the Top 45 on the money list. But like Robert Allenby, there's a shocking limit on the wins here - despite an elite iron game, Senden has just one victory on the PGA Tour. He's far overdue for something else on the mantle.

DOWNGRADE

Tiger Woods:
He was his normal prickly self in the media - happy to discuss the good days, and a terse excuse-machine on the other days. Tiger explained Saturday's wasted round as a comedy of randomness: he kept landing his ball between clubs. I've heard that used as a singular excuse now and then; never the go-to whine for an entire round. How about admitting you need to work on distance control, Tiger, and call it a day? Woods also turned grouchy when he was asked for a feel-good quote on Beau Hossler; another par for Captain Unlikable.

Rory McIlroy:
He wasn't prepared for this one and it showed. It would be a stunner if he found enough game to contend at the British Open; there's too much on his mind and on his plate.

Bubba Watson:
It's almost like he gave up on this course early - it's too hard, it doesn't suit my game, so I'll be heading on out, thanks. Watson's raw talent is still going to keep him in the elite class, but this is a "horses for courses" golfer - there will be some tracks where he has almost no chance to contend.

Luke Donald:
Is it possible to want to win too badly? Donald essentially shot him out of the tournament Thursday, which has become one of his constant themes in recent years. Such a shame, because Olympic really set up well for him.

Paul Azinger:
He refuses to do any hard research on the current players; he simply falls back on his memory of a player when it's time to speak. No, Zinger, Ernie Els is not a terrific bunker player - he's been outside the Top 100 in sand saves four straight years. There are some great sites for statistical information, buddy, if you care about the quality of your work. Azinger's open rooting for the players also got tired awfully quick, along with his over-reacting to any putt that narrowly missed.

HOLDING STEADY

Johnny Miller:
Most of his analysis was sharp, especially Sunday, but he did too much reminiscing about his junior golf days at Olympic. It wasn't the stories so much as the chutzpah that accompanied them. Still, Miller remains golf's most refreshing and honest voice, and no one's even close.

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