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Golf Barometer: Thin-Skinned Sergio

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

Tiger Woods:
It wasn't a spotless win (note the splash on 14), but the final round had most of the Tiger elements we're used to: crisp ball striking, smart decisions, consistent putting (terrific lags and enough of the medium ones dropping). Woods doesn't win them going away anymore, but he's still winning them; he's still as good a closer as there is in sports. The 18-majors target looks reachable again, if not inevitable.

Kevin Streelman:
Here's the hottest player no one is talking about - Streelman's finished in the Top 6 in his last three events, and don't forget his win at Tampa Bay in mid-March. Everything on the stat page looks tidy: 14th in total driving, 23rd in GIR, 20th in strokes gained putting, ninth in final-round scoring. The lightbulb is going on for Streelman at age 34.

David Lingmerth:
His tie for second came completely out of nowhere (on the heels of five missed cuts and two other small checks), and while Lingmerth didn't go off in the final round, a 72 is reasonable given the conditions and pressure. Now that his chops have been validated a bit, look for a spike upward in the summer.

Rory McIlroy:
You hardly saw him on the air, even with a Top-10 finish, but it was encouraging simply seeing McIlroy playing well at a course that generally spooks him. It's coming together, slowly but surely. It probably helps that there isn't a gigantic bull's eye on his back entering the final three majors.

Marc Leishman:
Make it three jumbo checks in a row, with two coming in snappy venues (T4 at the Masters and last week's T8 at Sawgrass). Leishman's scoring rank is far superior to any of his component stats, and that doesn't bother us - normally that reveals some of the hidden game that can't be measured in numbers. Look for him to finish the year in the Top 40.

Johnny Miller:
As always, a breath of fresh air. He's not afraid to criticize and question the players (gasp, even Woods), and he was the only NBC booth member who said what every viewer was thinking during Tiger's curious Sunday drop on the 14th hole. Never change, Johnny.

DOWNGRADE

Sergio Garcia:
For the most part he played very well, including a Sunday comeback after a stumble at the start. But no one is going to forget his dunkathon on 17 anytime soon, or the "who gives a crap?" hook into the water on 18. And the dustup between Woods and Garcia on Saturday was more about Garcia's thin skin than anything else. It's not hard to see why one of these guys has 14 majors and one of them doesn't have any.

Vijay Singh:
As everyone expected, the golf gods did not look kindly to Vijay's poorly-timed lawsuit against the hand that's fed him. Singh muddled through an uneventful 74-71, slammed the trunk and presumably went off to find an empty range for more practice. We'll be surprised if he does much on the summer circuit.

HOLDING STEADY

Lee Westwood:
We can't crush someone for a T8 finish, but the whiff was embarrassing, as was the sloppy putting on the weekend. Is Westwood psyched out in the American events? It's a fair question to ponder.