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Golf Barometer: Big Easy Not Done Yet

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

Ernie Els:
He's never going to be an elite putter again, and his sand play has been spotty for a few years now. But it's always tremendous to see a gentle giant win, a Hall of Fame nice guy, and Els still has the perfect mix of power and patience for this game. He's cashed 11-of-14 times, he's eighth on the money list, he's grabbed five Top-10s. There's a lot of top-level play left in the Big Easy at age 42.

Adam Scott:
OK, a nightmare finish, but he's getting awfully close. Consider his last seven majors, starting with last week: 2, T15, T8, 7, T25, MC, T2. Golf isn't a sport about your brash 20s, it's about your experienced 30s (when you're still young enough to do everything you need to do). Scott just turned 32. He's going to win majors, and yes, it will be more than one.

Mark Calcavecchia:
You just turners 52, big guy. You have no right rolling a T9 finish at The Open, but it shows what a player can do through sharp ball striking, back class and course management. More than any other major, The Open lends itself to strong finishes from 50-something veterans who have already tamed the beast before (think of Tom Watson's glorious run in 2009).

Graeme McDowell:
His Sunday 75 was chewed up and spit out by a large portion of media, too penal if you ask me. You keep getting into the final pairings at majors, G-Mac, and you'll get a few more trophies on the mantle as time goes on. And we know your skin is too thick for Sunday's missteps to bother you.

Matt Kuchar:
He's very much an American-style player, but his T9 across the pond speaks to Kuchar's ability to visualize shots, stay patient and play unorthodox golf when it's called for. He might be one of the Top-5 favorites for the PGA Championship.

Mike Tirico, Scott Van Pelt, Terry Gannon, Sean McDonough:
The play-by-play men were routinely superb for all four weeks, handling the traffic cop role perfectly. It's a shame the telecast doesn't allow them to use more of their own voices and observations - the color men didn't have the best of weeks.

DOWNGRADE

Stevie Williams:
Some feel the Adam Scott meltdown on the final four holes Sunday was more about Williams misclubbing Scott than anything else. One thing's for sure: Williams has far too much big-game experience to make some of the caddying mistakes we saw down the stretch.

Paul Azinger:
He contradicted himself a few times on the Adam Scott wind ruling, then got argumentative through social media when rational outsiders had the gall to cry foul. And as usual, Azinger rooted too passionately for the players - he came off as an older brother too many times, not a paid, professional analyst. Azinger's better than the miscast Curtis Strange, but that's the only positive I can offer his way.

Phil Mickelson:
Forget last year's near-miss for a second - Lefty's game simply doesn't translate very well to the style needed at The Open. His career record is a mess in this event, and there's almost a show of resignation on Micklelson's face every year. No shame in having three majors you can consistently challenge in - a lot of players had that one White Whale they couldn't tame.

Sergio Garcia:
Once you saw he was in Tiger's opening pairing, you knew Sergio was doomed. Worse yet, you knew that Sergio knew he was doomed. He still can't get out of his own way.

Angel Cabrera:
It wouldn't be a sin to take some time off, Duck Man. We can all see you're not healthy. A lesser man would have packed it in before Friday's 81 was complete.

HOLDING STEADY

Tiger Woods:
He's still the leader in the clubhouse for PGA Tour Player of the Year and he thinks his way around the course as well as ever. But his fear of his driver is going to be an issue at some events, and Tiger no longer has the magic putter to bail him out of most of his tee-to-green mischief. It's too early to say that Jack's 18 majors are safe, but they have to be considered the favorite at this point.

Luke Donald:
He still hasn't broken through for the major he wants so desperately, but the 70 on Thursday was a step in the right direction (he's been notoriously sloppy in Day 1s of majors), and a final-round 69 also makes a statement. He might be better served for a win on American soil, where his straight driving and angelic putting will be more useful.