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Teeing Off: Is dominance still possible on the PGA Tour?

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Brandt Snedeker — Getty Images

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at@shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we look at the thought of dominating these days on tour. Here goes ...

Bacon: Long are the days of the Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh runs at double-digit wins on tour. These days if a guy wins two or three times in a season not only is it a huge deal, but he might just be the top candidate for the Player of the Year. With the start that Brandt Snedeker has had in 2013, the question is worth bringing up; how do we define "dominance" on the PGA Tour? Is it consistent top-fives? Multiple wins in a row? A win plus a major in the same season? How do we figure this out and is it even possible to dominate on the 2013 PGA Tour?

Busbee: The relative talent level right now in golf is broader than it's ever been. Does that mean that the players now could beat Nicklaus, Palmer, Snead et. al., assuming level equipment/preparation? No. But there are more people now who can challenge for a major, can challenge for a tournament win, than at any time in golf's history. And that's a double-edged sword, because while it opens the door wide, it also opens it to a lot of guys the world's almost never heard of. We can define dominance the way we always have -- multiple wins, multiple major wins in a season -- but the likelihood of it happening is far lower today. "First among equals" doesn't quite have the same ring, does it?

Bacon: But doesn't the way Snedeker has played to start the season suggest that there IS an opportunity for someone to go on a run for a few months and rack up two or three wins in a short time span? Rory McIlroy sure seems like the type of player that can play solid, solid golf for 8-10 straight months, so is he the best option for a five or six win season? Is that even possible now with the restricted schedules that a lot of these guys play? When Dustin Johnson won that opening tournament in Hawaii I really felt like he could go on a ridiculous run and snag three wins early in his season (he has loved Pebble Beach in the past) but then it's like he lost focus.

Busbee: I can't even begin to list the 99 reasons why DJ might have lost focus. That said, you're right ... a player can do what Sneds is doing, or McIlroy did late last year, and put together a spectacular 8-10 weeks. Does that constitute dominance, though? In today's terms, absolutely. In historical terms? I don't believe so, but then we may be viewing history through some rose-colored glasses. Maybe now the question becomes, do these guys even want to be that dominant? Sure, they would love to win, but as you and I have discussed before, to go from great to iconic is a huge leap ... which players today do you think have it in them to make that leap?

Bacon: I think you make a good point that maybe not every big-named player has it in them to want to be THAT guy on the tour. Sure, winning is great, but when you're making six figures by finishing T-5 what is the real incentive? Guys like Bubba and Dustin and Webb and Keegan aren't going to be out of a job in five years so if they win or don't win, it's still a ton of money in their pocket and even more to be made the next week.

I think if we are looking at guys that actually want to be "the man," we'd have to look at Rory and Keegan Bradley. For some reason I really think that Bradley likes to win, and wants to win, and enjoys beating other guys on tour, so those are two names that come to my mind. Do you have anyone else you think could be THAT GOOD for a long stretch of time?

Busbee: To me, it comes down to the putter. The guys who can grab an extra stroke or two on the greens are the ones who are going to be able to post those kinds of landmark seasons. That's why Snedeker, the inspiration for this post, strikes me as a great bet. He's got the perfect makeup: laconic, yet deadly with the flat stick. Along those same lines, if Luke Donald can ever get up on the high wire, he might never come down.

Bacon: Is it bad that I still think Tiger might have the best chance at this, even today? If his putter gets hot, who knows?

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