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Golf Barometer: Lefty Figures Out the Links

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

Phil Mickelson:
Look everyone, Lefty learned how to play links golf (reminds you of Happy Gilmore figuring out how to putt). The brilliant Sunday 66 will probably go down as Mickelson's signature round of all time, though we will reevaluate that if he ever gets over the U.S. Open hump.

Ian Poulter:
He's always had the nerve and putting chops of a potential major winner, and obviously he's the best Ryder Cup player of his generation. Poulter's 67 on Sunday almost put him into a playoff, spoiled by Mickelson's timeless round and a surprising run from Henrik Stenson. Look for a strong push over the next two months.

Justin Leonard:
His career has been in a free-fall for a while, but he still knows the ins and outs of British golf - note the T8 and T16 checks at the Open Championship the last two years. If Leonard decided to play the European Tour full-time (something he's unlikely to ever do), we might be talking about a Top-30 player again. Horses for courses.

Matt Kuchar:
His skill set has been honed and tailored for American golf, logically, but he's finally starting to get the hang of how you play the game across the pond (T15 this year at the British, and T9 last year). This remains the major Kuchar is least likely to win, but at least we don't have to ignore him during this time of the year.

Andy North:
Understated and economical, sure, but he says a lot with the words he chooses, and he's not afraid to criticize the players when they deserve it (that really makes you stand out in today's glorifying golf media). It's a shame North isn't used more during the golf season.

DOWNGRADE

Rory McIlroy:
Did he phone it in last week? Mail it in? Text it in? A player like McIlroy never has a good excuse for a 79-75 checkout, a trunk slam in progress from Friday's opening kick. McIlroy continues to get unsolicited advice from all parts of the globe, but he doesn't seem receptive to coaching now. Maybe a long break would do him more good than actual work on the course.

Sergio Garcia:
The creamy-smooth 68 on Saturday, with no pressure, was classic Garcia. The same goes for his Sunday 75, a fold-up when something tangible was at stake. Is there a sports psychologist who can bail out this career? Will Garcia ever learn how to accept the bounces and breaks of the game, rather than looking for a way to explain how he's not at fault? It's frustrating to watch this talent get wasted.

HOLDING STEADY

Hunter Mahan:
Getting into position to win a major is wonderful, but you have to make things happen on a Sunday. Mahan still hasn't figured out that part of the bargain yet, but he has time (he's still just 31). But if you want to slam the window shut on the perennial disappointment known as Lee Westwood, I'm not going to argue with you.

Tiger Woods:
No, he didn't win, and that's ultimately what it comes down to with Woods - a win or a non-win. But he'd still be player of the year in a second if he finds a way to bag the PGA, and let's appreciate how close he's been over his last five majors: T6, T32, T4, T11, T3. He's too good not to kick the door down eventually.

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