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Alternate Shot: On Curtis' stealth success, Wie's fall, Piercy blowup


Cowboy boots and yellow roses are just part of the booty for Curtis in winning the Texas Open. (Getty Images)  
Cowboy boots and yellow roses are just part of the booty for Curtis in winning the Texas Open. (Getty Images)  

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Each week, CBSSports.com golf writers Steve Elling and Shane Bacon trade shots on hot-button topics of the day, slinging around facts, opinions and projections in pretty much the same fashion they play the game -- with a certain degree of abandon. Except with no mulligans.

Veteran Ben Curtis won the watered-down Valero Texas Open this weekend and now has four wins. Is he one of the most underrated golfers on the tour?

Bacon: It's funny, because I was sitting around last night with a bunch of golf writers, and someone asked me, "Who won?" I told them Curtis, and a very experienced golf writer said, "Good, he's solid." It's funny to hear someone say such a thing about Ben Curtis, but he has four PGA Tour wins and a major and always seems to hang around even when he doesn't win. Yes, there are plenty of more obscure major winners (Shaun Micheel and Steve Jones come to mind), but Curtis is the type of guy who could end his career with seven PGA Tour wins, including that British Open. He might not be the sexiest pick to claim titles, but considering the Valero field, he might just be the best available pick we had, and him winning is actually great for the game.

Elling: It's a bit of both, really. Curtis can all but disappear for years at a time, but when he gets into contention, he frequently wins. He sort of set himself up for big things when he won the British Open in his first major appearance -- which hadn't been done in the modern era -- and was right in the last-day mix when Harrington won the PGA Championship in 2008.

Michelle Wie misses her third straight cut at the LPGA Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii. (Getty Images)  
Michelle Wie misses her third straight cut at the LPGA Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii. (Getty Images)  
But the week-in, week-out grind hasn't been altogether kind to the soft-spoken Ohio native, who was No. 120 and 149 in earnings over the past two seasons. He seems to be a player who is at his best on tougher tracks, when birdies are not as abundant, and the newish TPC San Antonio looks like it's one of the half-dozen toughest on the PGA Tour, majors included.

On a comical side note, Curtis has been a plague where he has won. In his first three wins, at the British and two PGA Tour stops, he never got to go back and defend at the same venue. The British rotates sites annually, obviously, and the two regular events he won disappeared before the next season was played. At least he gets to go back to San Antonio, although based on the carping about the course, that might not be the best thing.


Michelle Wie played her fifth LPGA event this past weekend, at a course she grew up on in Hawaii. She missed the cut badly, making it three consecutive weekends off this season. Her best finish in 2012 is T38. What in the world is going on?

Bacon: Honestly, I simply think Michelle Wie is interested in other things. Sure, she's an extremely talented golfer, but it seems this college experience showed her that there are other important things in life. I've met Michelle a handful of times, and she's one of the nicest professional athletes I've ever met, so what exactly is wrong with someone who simply doesn't totally care about golf? Yes, she has won LPGA events, and if she gets her head around it, will win a few more, but I just don't know if she is completely invested in winning at this point in her life.

Elling: It saddens me to say it, but we have come to expect far too much from Wie. She has wrist issues that are going to be an occasional physical problem, she made it clear by enrolling at Stanford that she has multiple interests beyond the game, her putting has never been much better than average and younger players are already blowing past her. Moreover, golf can be a brutal game as it relates to the biological clock. Annika Sorenstam won more events in her 30s than any other female, bucking a serious trend in which women peak in their 20s. Wie seems to have topped out in her teens.

It's not over, but what an insanely disappointing career track it has been. She was the biggest can't-miss prodigy of the past two decades, good enough to compete and beat some of the men on their own PGA Tour venues. Now she seems headed toward a spot among the middling masses in LPGA circles.


Scott Piercy got all Tiger Woods on the final hole in Texas, taking out his frustrations on his putter. (Getty Images)  
Scott Piercy got all Tiger Woods on the final hole in Texas, taking out his frustrations on his putter. (Getty Images)  
Scott Piercy made a 9 on his final hole at the Valero Texas Open and then violently buried his putter in the turf and snapped it over his knee, a spontaneous outburst that was caught on the CBS broadcast. Should the PGA Tour fine him?

Bacon: Well, that's a slippery slope, but I'm assuming some fine will be levied. We had Tiger Woods kick a golf club at the Masters and nothing come from it, so it seems frustration isn't leading to as much of a reprimand as it used to. I think if you break a golf club, the fine should be you have to play the next event with 13 clubs in your bag. Doesn't that seem fair?

Elling: Gotta give you credit, that's certainly a punishment that has never been broached before. Should the tour zap Scott Piercy? That's clearly a rhetorical question. The real issue is, how much? Clearly, the pittance the tour is laying on players for disciplinary infractions -- this is a classic "conduct-unbecoming-a-professional" fare -- isn't nearly enough.

The secret disciplinary policing at the tour has been laughable for years, really. John Daly, who brought more negative publicity to the tour than Tiger Woods times 10 as it relates to unprofessional antics on the course, has been fined roughly $100,000 in his entire career, pocket change in this era. The tour isn't interested in correcting behavior. It if were, it would announce its fines and suspensions, like every other professional league, including the European Tour at times, and let public outcry take its course.

As for Piercy, he dropped from T4 to T18, which is a healthy financial whack of about $165,000 to absorb. Another $20,000 for turning his Scotty Cameron into two pieces on national TV ought to suffice.


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