Published April 28, 2016
Jimmy Walker does not like to talk about another player's game when they are in the same group except for when "Good shot" is warranted. So he had to hold his tongue last summer while playing with Justin Rose.
"He drove it so good, on a rope. I was like ... wow," Walker said. "I waited two days and I said, 'Justin, I don't give out compliments very often, but I've never seen anyone drive the golf ball as good as you did the last two days.'"
Rose appreciated the kind words, but it was his response — "I wish I could putt like you" — that got Walker to thinking.
"We all have something out here that somebody else wants," Walker said. "You watch somebody and think, 'I wish I could do that.' You admire things about people out here. And there are people out here that I'm sure admire things about my game."
A small sampling showed there might be some truth to that.
No one has everything, and if he does, then not for very long. And no one is ever satisfied with any aspect of his game. But do the world's best at least recognize what they do well, and that someone else might want it?
"They definitely don't want my short putter," Adam Scott said with a laugh.
The long putter is not what made him the first Australian to win a green jacket. It's not why he rose to No. 1 in the world a year later.
"I think I'm a good driver of the golf ball," Scott said. "Someone must want to take my driver."
Scott has seen some good golf in his 15 years as a pro. He played a practice round with Tiger Woods before the 2000 U.S. Open that made Scott wonder if he should remain an amateur. He was paired with Ernie Els when the Big Easy shot 60 at Royal Melbourne in 2004, which Scott still considers the greatest round he ever saw.
But when asked if he could have something from another player, he went with Phil Mickelson's short game.
"There are a few guys that have outstanding areas of their games, but Phil's short game over all the years I've been out here stands out unbelievably," he said.
Players do pay attention.
Luke Donald and Steve Stricker were in the same group Friday at the Sony Open. Both shot 65.
Donald, a former world No. 1, figured that someone would like to have his short game and bunker play. What he wants is what he can't have, much as he has tried. Donald would love to hit the ball 320 yards. He chased distance once in his career and it led to a wrist injury that ultimately kept him out of the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Stricker, meanwhile, has long been regarded as one of the best putters in golf, so it would seem obvious what another player would want from him. Think back to Doral in 2013, when Woods sought his help for 45 minutes on the putting green on Wednesday and then won by two shots over Stricker.
Or maybe not.
"I'll say my wedge game," Stricker said.
Not putting? He paused.
"Or my putting," he added with a smile. "I've been putting so badly the last year that I haven't given myself enough credit for it."
As for what he would want from someone else, Stricker leaned on fresh memories.
"You know, I was watching Luke Donald today and I was thinking, 'Man, is he good out of the bunker.' And he's a good wedge player," Stricker said.
Brandt Snedeker also felt that most of his peers wouldn't mind having his putting. The way he sees it, he hits more putts that have a chance to go in, or he has fewer putts that don't have a chance. So if he goes a round or two without making many, he's doesn't let it bother him because "I know they're going to eventually go in."
Here's what will drive some players crazy — Snedeker really doesn't practice it all that much.
"Why would I practice something I'm great at?" he said with a grin. "I practice what I'm terrible at, which is hitting it off the tee and my iron play."
Kevin Kisner, who always had a good short game and finally figured out how to hit the ball on the club face, was one of the few players who believes he has something that doesn't involve a club in his hand. "My head," he said. "I've always been a confident guy. I know when I'm doing the things I can do that I can play with anybody."
It would seem there is one thing on which everyone can agree: No one has everything.
Or do they?
Scott was asked what he would take from Woods during that practice round in Las Vegas before Woods went to Pebble Beach and won the U.S. Open by 15 shots.
"Everything," he said. "It's still the best I've ever seen in one package. Every aspect of the game, he did better than anyone."
Woods, meanwhile, undoubtedly would love to take something from Scott and dozens of other players.