Category archive: Lee Westwood

Editor's note: See Sobel's NCAA tournament-style bracket predictions here.

Trying to predict golf tournaments is an exercise in futility, but trying to predict the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship might be the literal definition of "inexact science."

And yet, that doesn't mean we can't employ some prior knowledge in an attempt to prognosticate what might take place this week outside Tucson, Ariz.

Let's break down the four brackets to help with those annual office pools -- for, uh, entertainment purposes only, of course.


BOBBY JONES BRACKET

Strength: Youthful exuberance. The only bracket with two teenagers (Ryo Ishikawa and Matteo Manassero) also features a half-dozen players in their twenties.

Weakness: Recent wins. Plenty of proven champions in this mix, but only one player owns a victory so far this season -- Charl Schwartzel at the Joburg Open.

Best opening-round match: There isn't a non-winner playing better on the PGA Tour than Nick Watney, who owns three top-six finishes in three starts this year, but Anthony Kim is a fiery competitor who thrives in this format.

Best potential later-round match: It would take the desert stars aligning precisely right, but if the Molinari Bros. each pull off three victories, they would face each other on Saturday morning.

Upset special: Steve Stricker is a wily veteran and one of the world's best putters. His opening-round opponent, Manassero, has nothing to lose, though -- and plenty to gain.

Retief Goosen</a>
Goosen

Sleeper: Martin Laird has proven his Scottish roots translate to great desert golf, as he's posted a win and a playoff runner-up in his past two starts at the PGA Tour's stop in Las Vegas.

Winner: Only Matt Kuchar posted more top-10 results on the PGA Tour last year than Retief Goosen, whose overall consistency failed to capture a victory. That said, consistency is rewarded in match play and the now grizzled -- and sometimes grizzly, depending on his facial hair decision -- veteran has plenty of experience in this format.


GARY PLAYER BRACKET

Strength: Ball-striking. There isn't a better collection of pure swings in any other bracket, as these guys should hit many of the course's large greens in regulation very frequently.

Weakness: Jetlag. Five of these 16 players are not regular members of the PGA Tour, which ties for the most in any bracket and means there could be plenty of redeyes going out on Wednesday -- and maybe coming home, too.

Best opening-round match: Hunter Mahan and Sean O'Hair are close friends, employ the same swing coach (Sean Foley) and often play practice rounds together. It will be interesting to see if they can get into a more competitive mode against each other for this one.

Best potential later-round match: Adam Scott was Rory McIlroy about a decade earlier. A can't-miss superstar with a billion-dollar swing, he's been very good at times and very average at others. Perhaps young McIlroy will seek tips on how to better remain on the championship path.

Upset special: In 10 career starts at this event, Jim Furyk has never advanced beyond the third round. He'll face a guy in Ryan Palmer who is already playing some strong early-season golf.

Martin Kaymer
Kaymer

Sleeper: Yuta Ikeda has now played in 13 career PGA Tour-sanctioned events and never finished better than T-22. It's only a matter of time before the 25-year-old makes a splash, though. He owns eight career international victories.

Winner: Tough road game for European Tour member Martin Kaymer, huh? Not exactly. The world's No. 2-ranked player actually lives just 75 minutes away in Scottsdale and while he won't commute during the week, he's not quite a foreigner when it comes to playing desert golf.


SAM SNEAD BRACKET

Strength: Overall talent. Top to bottom, no bracket has more raw talent than this one. Though Tiger Woods obviously skews the numbers as far as major victories, three others own such hardware and another three have already won titles this season.

Weakness: Injuries. Tim Clark has a bad toe, Camilo Villegas has a bad back and Ernie Els has a bad neck -- all of which has caused them to withdraw from tournaments in recent weeks.

Best opening-round match: There might not be a better first-day pairing on the entire sheet than Geoff Ogilvy versus Padraig Harrington. Someone should mike these guys up, too; as two of the game's more thoughtful and eloquent speakers, their conversations could be riveting.

Best potential later-round match: Chicks dig the long ball. So, too, does everyone else, which means a possible second-round matchup between Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson would be a fun "anywhere you can hit, I can hit farther" experience for all.

Upset special: Peter O'Malley. Nick O'Hern. And now ... Thomas Bjorn? Tiger Woods has been felled by unexciting, methodical plodders in the past. Coming off a recent victory in Qatar, the veteran Bjorn will hardly be in awe of his decorated opponent.

Jeff Overton
Overton

Sleeper: It's been a quiet year so far for Jason Day, but this is the type of event that has turned very good players like Ogilvy and Henrik Stenson into high-profile ones and Day's ready to make such a leap.

Winner: There aren't many more talented PGA Tour members without a win than Jeff Overton. He proved last year that he can not only hang with the world's best, but can do so in this format, playing brilliant golf at times during the Ryder Cup. Boom, baby.


BEN HOGAN BRACKET

Strength: Match play experience. Exactly half of the players in this bracket have competed in at least one of the past two editions of the Ryder Cup.

Weakness: Driving distance. In this format, it's often an advantage to hit your approach shot second and on this course booming drives have plenty of fairway to find. Only Phil Mickelson and Alvaro Quiros qualify as big hitters from this group, though.

Best opening-round match: Only one Wednesday game features a matchup of former AMPC finalists, as Ian Poulter is the defending champion and Stewart Cink was runner-up in 2008.

Best potential later-round match: Rickie Fowler has long looked up to Phil Mickelson and the veteran has taken the youngster under his wing, even pairing with him in one match during last year's Ryder Cup.

Upset special: After skipping this event last year, Mickelson decided to forgo vacation with his family and play this time around. You've got to wonder whether his heart will really be into it, though, or whether he'll have the jet gassed up and ready to join Amy and the kids as soon as possible.

Ross Fisher
Fisher

Sleeper: Anders Hansen is only two weeks removed from coming up one stroke shy of forcing a playoff with Quiros in Dubai. That result did allow him to become the last man to automatically qualify for this week's field.

Winner: Is there a more underrated player among the world's elite than Ross Fisher? He might not look pretty, but he gets the job done, including a fourth-place performance in this event two years ago and a World Match Play title later that season.


The semifinals: Fisher over Goosen and Kaymer over Overton.

The finals: Kaymer over Fisher.


Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

Editor's Note: See Sobel's NCAA Tournament-style bracket here.

Trying to predict golf tournaments is an exercise in futility, but trying to predict the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship might be the literal definition of "inexact science."

And yet, that doesn't mean we can't employ some prior knowledge in an attempt to prognosticate what might take place this week outside Tucson.

Let's break down the four brackets to help with those annual office pools -- for, uh, entertainment purposes only, of course.


XXXXXX BRACKET

Strength: Youthful exuberance. The only bracket with two teenagers (Ryo Ishikawa and Matteo Manassero) also features a half-dozen players in their twenties.

Weakness: Recent wins. Plenty of proven champions in this mix, but only one player owns a victory so far this season -- Charl Schwartzel at the Joburg Open.

Best opening-round match: There isn't a non-winner playing better on the PGA Tour than Nick Watney, who owns three top-six finishes in three starts this year, but Anthony Kim is a fiery competitor who thrives in this format.

Best potential later-round match: It would take the desert stars aligning precisely right, but if the Molinari Bros. each pull off three victories, they would face each other on Saturday morning.

Upset special: Steve Stricker is a wily veteran and one of the world's best putters. His opening-round opponent Manassero has nothing to lose, though -- and plenty to gain.

Retief Goosen
Goosen

Sleeper: Martin Laird has proven his Scottish roots translate to great desert golf, as he's posted a win and a playoff runner-up in his last two starts at the PGA Tour's stop in Las Vegas.

Winner: Only Matt Kuchar posted more top-10 results on the PGA Tour last year than Retief Goosen, whose overall consistency failed to capture a victory. That said, consistency is rewarded in match play and the now grizzled -- and sometimes grizzly, depending on his facial hair decision -- veteran has plenty of experience in this format.


XXXXX BRACKET

Strength: Ball-striking. There isn't a better collection of pure swings in any other bracket, as these guys should hit many of the course's large greens in regulation very frequently.

Weakness: Jetlag. Five of these 16 players are not regular members of the PGA Tour, which ties for the most in any bracket and means there could be plenty of redeyes going out on Wednesday -- and maybe coming home, too.

Best opening-round match: Hunter Mahan and Sean O'Hair are close friends, employ the same swing coach (Sean Foley) and often play practice rounds together. It will be interesting to see if they can get into a more competitive mode against each other for this one.

Best potential later-round match: Adam Scott was Rory McIlroy about a decade earlier. A can't-miss superstar with a billion-dollar swing, he's been very good at times and very average at others. Perhaps young McIlroy will seek tips on how to better remain on the championship path.

Upset special: In 10 career starts at this event, Jim Furyk has never advanced beyond the third round. He'll face a guy in Ryan Palmer who is already playing some strong early-season golf.

Martin Kaymer
Kaymer

Sleeper: Yuta Ikeda has now played in 13 career PGA Tour-sanctioned events and never finished better than T-22. It's only a matter of time before the 25-year-old makes a splash, though. He owns eight career international victories.

Winner: Tough road game for European Tour member Martin Kaymer, huh? Not exactly. The world's No. 2-ranked player actually lives just 75 minutes away in Scottsdale and while he won't commute during the week, he's not quite a foreigner when it comes to playing desert golf.


XXXXXX BRACKET

Strength: Overall talent. Top to bottom, no bracket has more raw talent than this one. Though Tiger Woods obviously skews the numbers as far as major victories, three others own such hardware and another three have already won titles this season.

Weakness: Injuries. Tim Clark has a bad toe, Camilo Villegas has a bad back and Ernie Els has a bad neck -- all of which has caused them to withdraw from tournaments in recent weeks.

Best opening-round match: There might not be a better first-day pairing on the entire sheet than Geoff Ogilvy versus Padraig Harrington. Someone should mic these guys up, too; as two of the game's more thoughtful and eloquent speakers, their conversations could be riveting.

Best potential later-round match: Chicks dig the long ball. So, too, does everyone else, which means a possible second-round matchup between Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson would be a fun "anywhere you can hit, I can hit further" experience for all.

Upset special: Peter O'Malley. Nick O'Hern. And now & Thomas Bjorn? Tiger Woods has been felled by unexciting, methodical plodders in the past. Coming off a recent victory in Qatar, the veteran Bjorn will hardly be in awe of his decorated opponent.

Jeff Overton
Overton

Sleeper: It's been a quiet year so far for Jason Day, but this is the type of event that has turned very good players like Geoff Ogilvy and Henrik Stenson into high-profile ones and he's ready to make such a leap.

Winner: There aren't many more talented PGA Tour members without a win than Jeff Overton. He proved last year that he can not only hang with the world's best, but can do so in this format, playing brilliant golf at times during the Ryder Cup. Boom, baby.


XXXXXX BRACKET

Strength: Match play experience. Exactly half of the players in this bracket have competed in at least one of the last two editions of the Ryder Cup.

Weakness: Driving distance. In this format, it's often an advantage to hit your approach shot second and on this course booming drives have plenty of fairway to find. Only Phil Mickelson and Alvaro Quiros qualify as big hitters from this group, though.

Best opening-round match: Only one Wednesday game features a matchup of former AMPC finalists, as Ian Poulter is the defending champion and Stewart Cink was runner-up in 2008.

Best potential later-round match: Rickie Fowler has long looked up to Phil Mickelson and the veteran has taken the youngster under his wing, even pairing with him in one match during last year's Ryder Cup.

Upset special: After skipping this event last year, Mickelson decided to forgo vacation with his family and play this time around. You've got to wonder whether his heart will really be into it, though, or whether he'll have the jet gassed up and ready to join Amy and the kids as soon as possible.

Ross Fisher
Fisher

Sleeper: Anders Hansen is only two weeks removed from coming up one stroke shy of forcing a playoff with Quiros in Dubai. That result did allow him to become the last man to automatically qualify for this week's field.

Winner: Is there a more underrated player among the world's elite than Ross Fisher? He might not look pretty, but he gets the job done, including a fourth-place performance in this event two years ago and a World Match Play title later that season.


The Semifinals: Fisher over Goosen and Kaymer over Overton.

The Finals: Kaymer over Fisher.


Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

Quick: Name the last three winners of the PGA Tour's annual Rookie of the Year award.

If the names Marc Leishman, Andres Romero and Brandt Snedeker don't immediately come to mind, you are forgiven. Each was a deserving winner, but when it comes to that compartment of your brain specifically employed for such record-keeping, their titles were likely forgotten before they were ever remembered.

That isn't the case for this year's top freshman. Saturday's announcement that Rickie Fowler earned the award has quickly turned into a lightning rod topic within the golf world, as the talented youngster defeated Quail Hollow Championship winner Rory McIlroy in a player vote that was received with much derision.

Not from the candidates, mind you. Prior to the announcement, Fowler told me, "I voted for Rory. I'm not going to vote for myself, I'll tell you that. That's just not who I am. He had a great year; he's definitely deserving." Meanwhile, McIlroy followed the decision by telling reporters at the Chevron World Challenge, "It's fine. Look, I really didn't want it. I'm not a rookie. … When I joined the PGA Tour, I was top-10 in the world. Rickie had an unbelievable year. He deserves it."

The ire didn't truly escalate until Monday morning, when world No. 1 Lee Westwood -- a Ryder Cup teammate of McIlroy -- tweeted his displeasure for the result.

"Just seen Ricky Fowler has been given rookie of the year!" Westwood wrote. "Yes he's had a good year but rory mcilroy 3rd in 2 majors and an absolute demolition of the field at quail hollow! Oh yes and on the winning Ryder cup team! Please! Is this yet another case of protectionism by the pga tour or are they so desperate to win something! Wouldn't have something to do with Rory not joining the tour next year? Maybe the PGA tour just employs the same voting process as FIFA! Come on, fairs fair!"

Simply check their results and you'll find two worthy candidates, either of whom would have defeated the competition in the last several years. McIlroy had one win to Fowler's zero and finished in third place at two majors; Fowler finished three spots higher on the money list and competed in a dozen more events.

While not a performance-based statistic, don't overlook the impact of those appearance numbers. PGA Tour end-of-season awards are voted upon by the membership rather than a points system, as used on the LPGA Tour. I spoke with a handful of current players who said that while Fowler was competing on a weekly basis, they'd never even seen McIlroy and therefore didn't feel it was right to vote for someone who seemed like a part-timer.

It shouldn't come as breaking news that fellow players don't exactly pore over the results when filling out their ballots. (When I asked Matt Kuchar after winning The Barclays whom he would vote for Player of the Year, he said, "I normally pass that aside. I try not to think about that. I let my wife or somebody else handle that for me.") So yes, these awards do become quasi popularity contests -- for better or worse.

Throw in the fact that McIlroy has already alienated himself from the PGA Tour by declaring his intention to give up full status for the upcoming season and many players felt they owned even more of a reason to vote against him.

While Westwood and others can't be blamed for stating their opinion of the result, their anger is displaced. When the PGA Tour gives its players sole responsibility for determining winners of these awards, it will always come with an asterisk, since -- much like college football or basketball coaches voting in a national poll for their sports -- they are more worried about their own games than those of their peers.

And to continue an annual favorite rant of mine: The PGA Tour should also provide vote totals for the awards. Did Fowler garner 90 percent of the vote or 51? Hey, revealing the percentages is good enough for elected government officials; it should be enough for the PGA Tour, too.

Just like those political positions, not everybody is going to agree with majority opinion, but they've got to live with it. If Westwood sees fit to cure the golf world of such future injustices, though, he only needs to do one thing to make his voice heard: join the PGA Tour. With membership, the No. 1-ranked player would be allowed to exercise his right to vote at the end of each year.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

With the current season winding down and the next campaign still two months away, there was some pretty major off-course news in the golf world over the past few days. Three of the world's best players -- Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer -- have each reportedly decided against pursuing a PGA Tour membership for next year.

[+] Enlarge
Rory McIlroy
Allan Henry/US PresswireRory McIlroy, 21, has reportedly decided against pursuing a PGA Tour membership for next year.

What does that mean? Well, right off the bat these collective decisions should send up some serious red flags in the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters. Even though they are hardly stalwarts of the U.S. circuit -- Westwood has held membership in the past but not this season, McIlroy was a rookie in 2010 and Kaymer has never owned any status -- they are proving what many in the industry have been whispering for a long time.

The PGA Tour needs the players a lot more than the players need the PGA Tour.

Before going any further, let's clear up one common misconception: Just because these players won't be PGA Tour members doesn't mean we'll never see 'em on this side of the pond. Each has already qualified for the four majors next season, and barring some dramatic, unforeseen plummet in ranking, they will qualify for the three stateside World Golf Championship events and the Players Championship. As former members who have relinquished status, Westwood and McIlroy will be allowed to make a total of 10 appearances; Kaymer, who might still be mulling his options, may play up to a dozen times since he is a career-long non-member.

Sounds like a win-win proposition, doesn't it? Well, it is. Really, other than limitations on the number of tournament starts, the only negative to being non-members is that those players won't be eligible to compete in the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs -- an ultralucrative money-grab instituted in part to lure these world-class players back to the U.S. during the season's final months.

This is nothing new for foreign-born pros. Seve Ballesteros renounced his membership on the U.S. tour midcareer; Colin Montgomerie never joined. So why are PGA Tour executives likely experiencing a queasy feeling right now? Because these three players could set an example by which all superstars could live.

It recalls the dog-chasing-its-tail discussion about the Tour increasing the minimum of 15 tournament appearances each year. (The European Tour recently raised its requirement for a second straight year, now enforcing that members must compete in at least 13 events.) While such a scenario might be beneficial to the game, it could risk losing big-name players who would rather forgo membership than be tied down to more stringent requirements. If you don't think Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els would jump ship, well, perhaps you just haven't been listening.

"The guys that mean a lot to the tour, you don't want to start trapping them," Els said earlier this year. "That's not going to work. That's going to backfire, and you're probably going to lose players. It will run its course."

Throw in the new rule about each member being required to compete in one of five "designated tournaments," those that are lacking in perennial star power, and clearly PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is finding his next shot wedged between a rock and a hard place. He is attempting to make the product more entertaining for fans but at the same time knows many of the potential implementations that could improve the circuit will have an adverse effect by pushing away the superstars.

Oh, and just in case you haven't been paying attention during the past 15 years of the Tiger Woods era, understand this: Golf is more reliant on its elite players to produce television ratings and drive sponsorship revenue than any other professional sport.

In Westwood, McIlroy and Kaymer, the PGA Tour will be without three of the world's top nine players, according to the Official World Golf Ranking. Far from an anomaly, this is an emerging theme, with more top-ranked players hailing from all corners of the globe than ever before. Although each of these three won a PGA Tour-sanctioned event this season, perhaps the biggest indictment of the current system comes from McIlroy, who just finished a rookie campaign that included a victory at the Quail Hollow (now Wells Fargo) Championship and promptly celebrated by trading in his PGA Tour card for a get-out-of-jail-free card.

"I found myself in America last year, especially in the FedEx Cup playoff series, just not wanting to be there," the 21-year-old told reporters at last week's HSBC Champions event. "I started switching on the Golf Channel and watching the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and thinking to myself I would rather be there."

Unlike those of previous generations, today's elite pro golfers live in a world with options. With private jets at the ready, travel is easier than ever before, allowing players to all be modern-day versions of Gary Player, in essence cherry-picking their own schedules rather than simply competing in whatever is offered during a given week.

Make no mistake: For those who aren't part of the upper echelon, America remains the land of opportunity in golf, with bigger purses and greater prestige tied to the PGA Tour events. It's the better players, though -- those the Tour needs in order to succeed on a weekly basis -- who will earn money wherever they compete and carry prestige with them to any tournament.

The notion that these golfers no longer need the PGA Tour as much as the PGA Tour needs them isn't a new one, but its major theme and subsequent result are beginning to play out right before our eyes. The game is becoming more global with each passing week, meaning less and less do the top players feel the need to take up PGA Tour membership.

Such an idea should have Finchem and his fellow executives nervous about the PGA Tour's future. It remains to be seen what kind of foresight and creativity can be employed to keep more top players competing in the U.S. more often. One thing is certain: This is a critical juncture for the PGA Tour, and without a proper plan in place, its power could be severely weakened by those players who wish to ply their craft elsewhere around the world.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

The story sounds like one straight out of The Onion, the visual evidence emanating from some twisted fun with Photoshop. Before the opening round of this week's HSBC Champions tournament, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson participated in a tai chi exhibition, wielding vicious swords and sardonic smiles throughout the performance.

With the world's No. 1 ranking up for grabs to each member of this fearsome foursome at the Shanghai-based event, consider these pre-tourney proceedings a metaphor for, well ... something. An acrimonious battle for supreme honors? Each player competing while keeping his guard up? The blade-thin differential separating the game's elite quartet?

Whatever the case, by the time Sunday's final round was complete, the newest top-ranked player remained in his proverbial throne while the contenders lay at his feet like slayed beasts. Although Westwood's attempt to begin his reign 1-for-1 as the No. 1 was thwarted by Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari, his second-place finish proved that he won't be so quick to let it slip from his grasp.

It was a successful start to an era -- if we can call it that -- for a player who was roundly criticized for ascending to loftiest position in the game. OK, so maybe he wasn't blamed for it directly, but there were plenty of not-so-subtle insinuations that the current world ranking format was clearly at fault for allowing a player of such little renown to reach this position.

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Westwood
Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty ImagesLee Westwood might not have won the HSBC Champions event in China, but he did finish well ahead of any of the potential challengers to his No. 1 world ranking on Sunday.

To wit: Westwood became just the fourth player in the 25-year history of the ranking to reach No. 1 without first claiming a major championship title. (Each of the previous three -- Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples and David Duval -- won a major within two years of getting there.)

A full-time member of the European Tour, Westwood owns just one victory in 2010, and that came on U.S. soil, as he won the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., before the U.S. Open back in June. He's also been dealing with a recent injury, as a calf problem has limited him to just two stroke-play events since early August.

Add in that his fellow swordsmen were breathing down his neck -- each was within .46 average points of the top spot -- and it's clear to see why some predicted Westwood's stay atop the list would mirror that of Tom Lehman, who was No. 1 for exactly one week in 1997.

Instead, the 37-year-old Englishman posted scores of 66-70-67-67 to best 75 players in the eventual 77-man field by at least 9 strokes, trailing only Molinari at the end. For a guy who has so often come so close without lighting up that victory cigar -- he owns top-three finishes in each of the four majors during the past three seasons -- this should come as yet another bitter pill to swallow, although it should be washed down by the sweet taste of prosperity.

Without a doubt, the race for the No. 1 ranking is a marathon and not a sprint, but Westwood's initial performance in this position suggests he may not be so quick to cede honors to his competition. Likewise, the other three players who could have surpassed him at the HSBC didn't appear to be in any rush to make such a bold statement.

In his first tournament following more than a half-decade atop the ranking, Woods played admirably, but bookend rounds of 4-under 68 sandwiched a pair in which he failed to break par, resulting in a T-6 finish. With three wins -- including the PGA Championship -- since August, Kaymer deserves a free pass for his T-30 result; if the system employed only a one-year rolling calendar rather than two, he would be far and away the No. 1 player. And then there's Mickelson, whose opportunities to claim the position this year now number in the midteens, but the defending champion couldn't even muster a finish in the top half of the field.

Each of these men, of course, still has a chance to overtake Westwood either before year's end or early in the 2011 campaign. The result could be a global game of musical chairs, in which any of the four -- not to mention fellow elite players Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and more -- might leapfrog his way to No. 1 status on any given week, giving the current climate of the professional ranks an enthralling subplot that hasn't existed in years.

For now, though, all accolades and celebration should be heaped upon Westwood, who emerged from his first week atop the world ranking by putting greater distance between himself and the competition. That he failed to triumph at the HSBC should only serve as a symbol for his career: He might not always be good enough to win, but he is indeed good enough to be the best.

Sure, it sounds like a bizarre conundrum, but in a week that began with the world's best players brandishing swords in one another's company, bizarre might very well now be the norm anyway.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.