Each week for the remainder of the golf season we will be rolling out a mailbag, with any and all questions invited from readers and fans around the world. Have a good question you want answered? Hit me up on Twitter at @shanebacon or e-mail me at email@example.com and we will try to get to it in the coming weeks. Here we go ...
Bacon: Hey, that's an easy answer, it's Tiger, because he already has 14!
But seriously, if we were looking ahead at who has the best chance at winning a major first from this point forward, you have to go with Jordan Spieth and it isn't even really close.
Sure, he's never done it, he's just 20 years old and has only been on the PGA Tour for just over a year, but the kid continues to play in traffic at these big tournaments and he's eventually going to get hit by the car.
The interesting thing about Spieth is how people actually take offense to criticism about the phenom. If you dog him for playing bad people point out the fact that he's only 20, but this guy is as talented as anything we've seen come up the PGA Tour ranks (especially if you're looking at young Americans) in some time.
Spieth is going to win a major. It might not be in 2014, it might not even be in 2015, but I think the more he plays, the more comfortable he gets with the lead at big tournaments, and the less pressure he puts on himself to win right this second will make it a loser easier on him and will make these final rounds come a bit easier, and feel a lot more natural.
As for Tiger, sure, we can all sit here and say he's going to win a 15th major championship, but does anyone really know about his health? Tiger turns 39 at the end of this year, hasn't won a major since 2008 and is having one of his most disappointing seasons of his entire life.
I'm not going to sit here and say his career is done, but what if the above question was asked as such:
"Who do you think wins a major first, a 20-year-old that has finished in the top-25 in 24 of his last 37 PGA Tour starts and finished second at the Masters, or a 38-year-old guy that just had back surgery and hasn't won a major since '08?"
I feel like almost everyone would go with "hypothetical" Golfer A in that scenario, and that's why I'm leaning towards Spieth to win a major before Tiger.
@shanebacon did your viewing experience of THE PLAYERS change because of having played it earlier this year?— Emily (@nyjetgirl4ever) May 13, 2014
Bacon: Absolutely. I think playing a golf course before a tournament is held there is as important as actually going to the event. Being at a golf tournament gives you a good idea of what is happening, how the course is playing, and what the conditions are doing each day, but if you really pay attention when you're playing a course, and take notes on certain humps, greens and bounces that players could get in different spots, you have a real advantage over someone that has never played there.
The thing I was surprised about with Sawgrass is it was more open that I would have thought, but you really have to place your golf ball in the right spot if you want to attack certain holes. A really good example of all this at Sawgrass is the 18th hole. The tee shot from TV looks tough enough, but standing there on the tee you really see how little room you have to error. A pushed tee shot (a pull for me) means you're blocked out by trees, but anything even a couple of yards left means you're dropping and hitting three.
So yes, getting a round in at Sawgrass was great and helped me really "get" certain holes that I would have otherwise had no idea how they really played.
@shanebacon if season ended today, who is player of year so far?— wesley whamond (@wesleywhamond) May 13, 2014
Bacon: I think you have go with Bubba Watson, and I'm not even sure it's close. Bubba has two wins, including the only major of the year so far, and he's currently first on the money list, second in FedEx Cup points, and fourth in scoring average.
Now, what does Bubba need to do to win the actual Player of the Year award when the season ends? I think win one more time (two and he's a lock unless someone wins two of the next three majors), and at least contend in another major (most likely the PGA Championship).
Winning one major and one other PGA Tour event these days means you're at least going to be in the conversation, so Bubba has that locked up already, but another win would do a lot to win him his first ever Player of the Year award.
@shanebacon So what is it like to play US Open Qualifier. How many guys expect to actually get through compared to doing it for mostly fun.— Adam Staelin (@threeguysgolf) May 13, 2014
Bacon: Playing in any qualifier is a mixture of a lot of nerves and a lot of "you can't be nervous, you better go out and shoot zero if you want to advance."
This year was different for me, because I actually had it going for a while and thought there was a chance I might get through local qualifying (I shot 73 and missed out by two).
It's fun when you're in the mix at those things and have a chance to put a score together. The interesting thing is the way people approach it once the round has been established. If a guy is playing poorly, a lot of the time they will start to hurry their rounds just to get out of your way (that is, if you're playing okay).
I've been the bad round guy a couple of times when someone in my group was a couple under par, so the last thing you want to do is to take a ton of time or get in their way as they're trying to stay in the right mindset and not get thrown off.
I overheard a couple of guys talking after their rounds this year and one of the guys had never played in this type of tournament before, so obviously his expectations were a little lower than some of the college kids that were out there trying to go low and qualify.
Overall, qualifiers are just a goofy experience. You have no idea what score is going to qualify so you try to get a feel while on the course what the number might be but you really have no idea (I actually guessed 71 would have a chance at mine, and it turned out to be the right call, but I've been four and five shots off before).
It's something that is always fun to do, because it really is one round and you get to go out and try to birdie every hole, but for the most part it's just like any other tournament round, where sometimes it goes your way and sometimes you play like a complete dog.
Bacon: I actually had a little fun with this question on Tuesday, asking the Twitter masses to answer who they thought was the worst to ever win a major championship.
Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, Michael Campbell, Todd Hamilton and Steve Jones landed most of the responses, but I even got votes for David Duval (come on), Stewart Cink (no chance), and my favorite, Jack Nicklaus (big golf fan sent me that one).
But the answer, if you're simply looking at the numbers and how they have played in other events, is Orville Moody. No, this isn't a bashing of Moody, but the guy won one PGA Tour event over his entire career (266 starts!), and that was the 1969 U.S. Open. Even crazier than that is the fact that Moody only finished in the top-10 at one other major the rest of his career (the '69 PGA Championship), and while he did have a ton of success on the Champions Tour, this is a look at his PGA Tour resume, and it was weak at best (dude could hit the ball, but his putter held him back for sure).
Micheel's resume looks a lot like Moody's, but Micheel finished second at the '06 PGA Championship to Tiger Woods, meaning he at least was in the conversation at another one of the big four, even if he did finish five back of Tiger that week.
@shanebacon in your opinion, which is more prestigious: Getting to #1 in the world even if it's for a week or winning one major?— Two Inches Short (@TwoInchesShort) May 13, 2014
Bacon: Your first reaction here is definitely someone winning a major, because we have been told that is all that matters and taking home one of the big four means your career goes from PGA Tour player to PGA Tour legend.
But, really, it's snagging the No. 1 ranking.
Here are the players that have been ranked No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1986: Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples, Nick Price, Tom Lehman, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, and soon to be Adam Scott (which will happen on Monday).
Of that group, only two have never won a major championship, but there are plenty of names of guys that have won even multiple majors that never got to world No. 1 (Phil Mickelson is probably the most glaring of the names that have been good for decades yet have never earned this honor).
So, I'm going with the top world ranking. While the system is far from perfect, you at least get an idea of who has played great golf for an extended period of time, and who has actually gone on to earn this award from consistently great play, not just a solid four days of incredible golf at a certain major.