It's that time of year where we long for great golf. What will we get? The Hero World Challenge. In the meantime, we can riff on all other things, starting with a little Twitter dust-up from Grayson Murray.
"Time for another made-for-TV-match: Grayson Murray vs. Bernhard Langer. To make it fair Langer could give him three shots a side." -Carl (@clcarlisme)
Honestly, I would be more excited for this scrum than practically any other matchup we could conjure. Both dudes would grind so hard, because they’d have a lot at stake. The funny thing about Murray is that he’s a natural heel but he’s afraid to fully embrace the role, hence the endless apologies. Just own it, dude.
"Any word on who Phil will hire as his caddy next year? He said [his brother] Tim would only finish out 2017.#AskAlan" -Joan (@J58golf)
I reached out to a couple of people close to Phil and they professed to have no clue. I imagine Mickelson begging his brother to stay on; Phil has always been intensely loyal and afraid of change. If Tiger blows out his back at the Hero I could see Phil making a run at Joe LaCava, as they’re buddies. At this point I think Phil wants a friend and a companion as much as anything, so if Tim gives up the job I could imagine his replacement won’t be a Tour caddie at all but someone else who is already part of the inner circle.
"Do you think Payne Stewart would have been a Ryder Cup Captain and how do you think he would have done?" -@DonnyVanta
Oh, he would’ve been an incredible captain. Nobody loved the Ryder Cup more and Payne was Seve-esque in his ability to rally teammates. Stewart would’ve been 47 years old at the time of the 2004 Ryder Cup, the perfect age for a Ryder captain. So one of his biggest contributions to the game would have been negating a Hal Sutton captaincy.
"Are caddies athletes?" -Kevin (@CaddieKev)
Well, Steve Williams was named New Zealand’s "Sportsman of the Year" in 2000, for whatever that’s worth. I thought it was interesting that at the Olympics the caddies did not earn medals, even though they’re an integral part of the competition. Carrying that bag is no joke, but the physical demands aside, I’d say they’re more akin to coaches: it’s knowledge and communication that matters, not athleticism.
"6/4 for Rory to win a major next season......a bet or a lay in your opinion?" -Kevin (@hezz332)
He has to win one, doesn’t he? It’s been three years and in that time Jordan, Dustin, JT, Brooks, J-Day and sundry others have made major leaps forward. Rory has immense pride and doesn’t want to become irrelevant at the age of 29. On the flip side, his putting issues are a serious red flag, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he’s displayed a dismaying inability to raise his game at the majors. I’d still take the bet that he’ll win one, but don’t put your whole 401(k) on it.
"What's your best advice to those of us that have to ‘put away’ our clubs for the winter and don't have any prospect of traveling to a tropical (read: warm) location? #AskAlan P.S. Having 280 characters to ask a question takes some creativity out of this exercise, doesn't it?" -@EthanZimman
Seriously, the cluttering of #AskAlan is the single most compelling reason to go back to 140. That, and the reduction of the endless they’re/there miscues. Anyway, my advice is to swing the club in your living room, garage or anywhere else indoors that works. It’s amazing how much more you can pay attention to the finer points of your swing when there is no ball and no target. I do this all day long when I should be in my chair, typing.
"If Tiger wins the Hero would you be willing to shave your head? #askalan" -Pat (@potatoputtinpat)
I’m so confident he won’t I’m actually tempted to take this bet. But were something truly weird to happen, losing this thick, luscious hair would do irreparable harm to my brand. Can I shave some other part of my body? [Shudder.]
"Would you rather fight a Scott Hend-sized squirrel or eight squirrel -sized Scott Hends? -Jack (@JLDenning)
Funny thing is, the real Scott Hend wanted to fight me in Rio. I was out walking the mostly-deserted Olympic course during the practice rounds when an errant drive came rolling up to my feet. The ball was emblazoned with the number 69. It was Hend’s. I tweeted a photo of the ball and called him a dirty bird or a pervert or something like that. I was just joking, of course, but apparently he was quite steamed about it. The Australian coach Ian Baker-Finch suggested I give Hend a wide berth for a few days, and I know good advice when I hear it. I actually haven’t bumped into Hend since. All of this is my way of saying, I’ll take the squirrels.
"Would you beat Trump in an 18 hole match play?" -@MichaelGilliker
Gawd, I hope so. But I’d probably try too hard, as if the fate of the free world was hanging in the balance, which it sort of would be. But the Prez has pegged it with everyone from Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy, so surely he’d be underwhelmed by my game, giving me a chance to sneak up on him. I’m gonna say I’ll beat him 1-up, shooting what would be a stroke-play 82 to his 84.