What We Learned: Tom, Tom


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from recent tournaments and news developments. This week, our writers weigh in with their thoughts on Tom Watson's recent pronouncements on the Olympics and the Ryder Cup; the European Tour's 'forward' thinking; the growing field of contenders for the No. 1 spot in women's golf; the end of PGA Tour Q-School as we know it and a classy performance by Edward Loar.

There are few bigger voices in the game than Tom Watson's, and lately he's been using it. Several days ago, he became one of the rare people to speak out against golf returning to the Olympics in 2016, citing how the explosion of big golf events beyond the majors has hurt the regular PGA Tour stop. It was a reasoned opinion, though unpopular in many circles (including likely the hallways of PGA Tour headquarters, where the Olympic push has been strongest). Either way, Watson felt he was looking out for the game. It's what he so often does.

On Sunday, though, he spoke out again, this time offering his services to the PGA of America as the 2014 Ryder Cup captain, 21 years after his victorious captaincy in 1993. 'That would be cool,' he said of a second go around.

I cringed a bit when I read his comments, what with his peer and fellow Hall of Famer, Larry Nelson, left out in the cold all these years. Hale Irwin, too. I wish Watson had used his lofty perch to shine a light on those who have been passed over for the job. Watson doesn't need a second captaincy any more than Jack Nicklaus needs a 19th major. Theirs are the safest of legacies. Watson usually hits it dead solid perfect. This was a rare skull job. – Damon Hack

So maybe this is what the PGA of America had in mind when it launched its 'Tee it Forward' initiative. Because of torrential rains that left Royal Durban Golf Club under water, the first two rounds of the European Tour's season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship were canceled and the weekend rounds were played on a makeshift 5,594-yard, par-65 track. That's not just short – it's short from the red tees. The result? We found that unlike Sammy Hagar, pro golfers can drive 55 (hundo), as Scott Jamieson and Jaco Van Zyl each shot a 57 that won't count toward the official record books. Moral of the story: Golf is easier when you tee it forward. But you probably knew that already. Jason Sobel

There will be no shortage of challengers to Yani Tseng’s No. 1 ranking when the LPGA’s 2013 season begins. Shanshan Feng’s victory Saturday at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour was her sixth worldwide title this year. Stacy Lewis is looking to get better after claiming the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year award this season. Inbee Park had 10 consecutive top-10 finishes in ’12 while winning the LPGA money title and Vare Trophy for low scoring average. Suzann Pettersen won back-to-back titles in October. Na Yeon Choi followed up her U.S. Women’s Open victory this summer by winning the season-ending CME Group Titleholders. Former No. 1 Jiyai Shin showed she’s rounding back into form with back-to-back titles in September, and Cristie Kerr sent a message by winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last month.

Tseng showed with a pair of third-place finishes and a fourth in the fall Asian swing that she may be readying for another surge in ’13. It all makes for some tough handicapping going into the new season. – Randall Mell

The PGA Tour’s Q-School, which ended on Monday in California, may be rife with intriguing stories – rookies Eric Meierdierks and Si Woo Kim would lead this year’s class in inspiring tales – but other than the storytellers, few will miss it. Six days of unrelenting pressure and the Groundhog Day nature of the event made it the game’s ultimate grind. Rex Hoggard

Edward Loar is a player worth rooting for. Guy finished double bogey, bogey to miss out on his PGA Tour card last Monday and still talked to the media afterward. Take your dream, imagine it is within your grasp, and then you blow it. It's no one else's fault; you turned your dream into a nightmare. How would you react? Hard to imagine anyone could handle it with more class than did Loar. – Mercer Baggs