Crikey, that godforsaken cover from three years ago haunts me even here...
"Your turn to top Ben Reiter's Astros World Series prediction. Go!" - @GeneMenez
I predict Michelle Wie will someday be on the cover of SI, a fanciful notion that has been made more real by my endless kvetching.
"Outside of the major championships or an AK comeback, what's the biggest golf story that could land an SI cover story? #AskAlan" - Dan (@djdonof)
Given those parameters, it's a very short list. Dustin Johnson has never been on the cover and he's a photogenic figure who moves the needle. Were he to sweep the West Coast swing I could see him landing a cover in late-March, whetting the appetite for the Masters. (It's also a quiet time of the year in the sports world.) Otherwise, there's not too many other featurey angles that have the widespread appeal for a national audience. If Rory McIlroy goes on another big run and we could get the right access, that would be a helluva story to write. Here's hoping.
"How many majors does Justin Rose finish with? #AskAlan" - Andrew (@a_h_davies)
He already has two: the 2013 U.S. Open and 2016 Olympic gold medal. Rose has finished as runner-up at two of the last three Masters, which is interesting given that putting is the weakest part of his game. But Augusta National is the quintessential second-shot golf course and Rose's spectacular iron play makes him a perennial threat. His all-around game is so good he's a threat at all four of the majors; he has top-4 finishes at the PGA and British Open. But Rose turns 38 next year, so he's entering the now-or-never stage. I'll give him one more major championship victory, which will guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
"Instead of rolling back the ball [as Tiger suggests], why can't we just declare no more advances to the ball or equipment starting today?" - @ptwitt
Because it's already too late – every course in existence is already way too short for the pros. And even if you freeze the equipment to 2017 specs, the players will still get longer collectively as bigger dudes come into the game, the emphasis on nutrition and fitness becomes more widespread and other little advantages we haven't thought of yet emerge.
"Do you think the Olympics could be used as venue to test new types of uniform equipment? #askalan" - @wordofmouth_tv
Sure, let's turn the biggest sporting event in the world into a Silly Season event! The Rio Games was a huge step forward for the game. Golf in Tokyo is going to be bonkers. (Did you peep the teeming crowds at the recent LPGA event in Japan?!) I like your idea of taking a reduced-flight ball from the theoretical and putting it in play, but that's what the Shark Shootout is for! Don't mess with the Olympics.
"So with the big news last week regarding the Olympic Club, how many free rounds are you expecting to mooch in future years? #AskAlan" - Steve (@EllingYelling)
I deeply resent the tenor of this question. Would you dare say an art critic should look at a painting only once before critiquing it? A golf course is a living, breathing thing. It must be experienced in different conditions and in different seasons for all of its secrets to be revealed. I owe it to the readers to immerse myself in all of the details of the future Ryder Cup and PGA Championship venue. Therefore, I shall be mooching as many rounds as possible.
"Has there ever been a more successful older athlete in any sport than Bernhard Langer?" – Ron (@PressingPause)
Well, there was a Swedish shooter named Oscar Swahn who won a gold medal at the 1912 Olympics at the age of 64 and then took a silver eight years later. But the Olympcs are conducted over a fortnight; Langer's relentless excellence goes on week after week, month after month, year after year. What Langer, 60, is doing is not entirely unprecedented – Hale Irwin won four times on the Senior tour when he was 60. But he wasn't nearly as dominant as Langer has been this year. So, I belive the answer to your question is a resounding no.
"Is it possible for golfers to work out without posting selfies on social media?" - @AndresSotoMarin
Yeah, this is part of the deep-rooted inferiority that many golfers feel: that nagging suspicion that, deep down, sports fans still consider them the weenies. So the sweaty, post-workout selfie is a kind of affirmation that they are, in fact, real jocks. I share your distaste for the genre, so forthwith, I decree a ban on all such photos... unless it's Belen Mozo.
"What's your favorite golf conspiracy theory? #AskAlan" - Steve (@_Smisner)
That Tiger Woods's errant drive on the third and final playoff hole of the 2000 PGA Championship was thrown back into play by a fan. Recall that Woods yanked his drive well left; it disappeared from the view of TV cameras for a second or two and then magically reappeared, bounding into a more playable spot. On the telecast Ken Venturi and Jim Nantz had a discussion about the unusual bounce ("It didn't react naturally, did it?"; "No, it didn't at all.") but there was never a second angle to show what was missed. Woods went on to birdie the hole, vanquish Bob May and win his third major of 2000, setting up his greatest achievement, the Tiger Slam. The weird bounce has been lost to the dust bin of history, save for a few of us who still puzzle over what did or did not happen.
"I sent one last week, but since I'm feeling greedy: What is the worst #AskAlan question you've gotten?" - @ShootingYourAge
I often feel like a doctor at a mental institution, and the #AskAlan questions are my patients: Some weird, some disturbed, some depressed, some make no sense at all, and yet I care deeply for all of them.