What We Learned: World Challenge


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 the USGA anchoring announcement, and Tiger's World Challenge event at Sherwood.

Graeme McDowell’s 15th club has to be his attitude. When the 2010 U.S. Open champion is in contention, his swagger and confidence seem to grow with every swing. It doesn’t mean he wins all the time (McDowell hadn’t won a tournament since Tiger's 2010 World Challenge) but he always looks ready to win. Even in his pair of appearances in the final group of the 2012 U.S. Open and Open Championship, McDowell looked like the happiest player on the golf course. There was nowhere else he wanted to be.

Watching McDowell hold off Keegan Bradley on Sunday at the World Challenge was a reminder just how much he relishes the fight. – Damon Hack

The overreaction to the potential anchoring ban was predictable. Seemingly as a rule, members of the golf community despise change. Remember the u-shaped grooves debate? In 2010, Scott McCarron called Phil Mickelson a cheater for using a wedge that was allowed only because of a legal technicality. The grooves’ impact on scoring has been negligible. Remember the uproar over the PGA Tour’s impending changes to Q-School? Considered blasphemy by fans and writers alike . . . yet only a handful of national media outlets are covering the final Q-School. The latest uproar, of course, was caused by the governing bodies’ decision to ban anchoring. Keegan Bradley intends to use the belly putter until it is pried out of his hands, which, sadly, may open himself up to more incidents such as what he encountered Saturday, when he was called a “cheater” by a numbskull fan at Sherwood. But Keegs can take solace in this: In golf, short-term angst almost always morphs into long-term indifference. – Ryan Lavner

Graeme McDowell is the indisputable No. 1 in the world. No, not on the course. His countryman Rory McIlroy has those honors locked up for now. I’m talking about in the interview room. Once again at this week’s World Challenge, McDowell further established himself as the preeminent speaker amongst the game’s elite players. He is equal parts loquacious, thoughtful, humorous and forthcoming. Ask him about the anchored putter proposal? He’ll proffer a three-minute debate that would make Mike Davis jealous. Throw him a question about the state of his game? He’ll be honest to a fault, admitting that he hasn’t played well enough over the past two years. If one of the networks which broadcasts PGA Tour golf needed a current player to become an analyst, he would be at the top of the list. The only problem, of course, is that he’s too good at his day job, meaning his gain is our potential loss. For now, we’ll have to settle for McDowell speaking after rounds whenever he plays well. Fortunately, that happens pretty frequently. – Jason Sobel

There is now a difference between what is 'legal' in golf and what is 'proper,' and there will be a difference until the ban on anchored putters becomes official. There is a difference in that the U.S. Golf Association and R&A have gone to great lengths to define anchoring as an improper stroke. While the ruling may not take effect until 2016, the conclusion the governing bodies have made casts a shadow over anchored strokes made from now on, even those legally made. That doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that a player who anchors is cheating. It's within the rules today, and you can't begrudge a player for taking advantage. In that regard, it's no different than using the rules in other ways to your 'legal' advantage. – Randall Mell

I was surprised to learn that I did not, in fact, receive OWGR points for tuning in to this weekend’s World Challenge. Each of the 18 participants did, though, and Zach Johnson even received $120,000 for his 18th-place finish. I have no qualms with any of the players choosing to participate, and the tournament certainly has the right to establish a purse as it sees fit. But in an era where tournament fields are often decided by the permutations of the world ranking system, it still seems curious to me that an offseason, limited-field event like the World Challenge can lure players with automatic OWGR points. While I was happy to see Graeme McDowell end his two-year winless drought, in my view this weekend’s tournament continues to serve as the clearest example that as currently constructed, the OWGR system is one in which the rich merely get richer. – Will Gray