Can you be too chummy with your fellow competitor in a final pairing of a major championship?
Did Paul Casey help take some pressure off Louis Oosthuizen instead of ratcheting it up Sunday at the British Open?
Longtime English golf writer Derek Lawrenson thinks so. Here's his take from London's Mail Online:
Cast your mind back to the Dubai World Championship last November where Lee Westwood was charged with the task of catching a flying Rory McIlroy if he were to win the European Tour Order of Merit.
Bear in mind that Westwood had come to look upon his stablemate almost like a younger brother. So what happened on the first morning when young Rory was feeling the pressure and out of his comfort zone?
Did Westy put an arm around his shoulder and offer him encouragement? Did he heck. Metaphorically speaking, he placed his foot on his throat . . .
That memory came flooding back on Sunday as Paul Casey spent the afternoon in constant conversation and laughter with the man he was trying to catch, the new Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen. What on earth was that all about? No-one wants to see the golfing equivalent of what we witnessed from the Dutch in the World Cup Final recently, or suggest Casey should say nothing for 18 holes. But surely you can be too nice.
I offer this not to have a go at the Englishman, for he has all the tools to be a major champion and ought to be encouraged not knocked down. But, in the spirit of constructive criticism, if he looks back at past Opens, I think he'll find that no great champion ever acted like he did on Sunday. All knew exactly when to apply the silent treatment. Could you ever imagine, for instance, Seve Ballesteros pulling within three in the final round and having a cosy natter with his opponent? Ever see Sir Nick Faldo do that? Or Tiger Woods?
Lawrenson’s take reminded me of when Phil Mickelson won his second Masters paired on Sunday with Fred Couples, who has been accused of making opponents too comfortable. What do you think? Sportsmanship is important, but can a player in a final pairing be too accommodating?