Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Paula Creamer, Tiger's club throwing and U.S. Open venues
"Now that Wie is getting all the attention again, I am wondering why Paula Creamer gets such short shrift? She is young, gorgeous, a winner, and from all accounts a fun and well-liked person. But Wie wins one tournament and she is viewed as the savior of the game? Is it just because she hits it further? I really do like the LPGA, and hope to see the two of them go head-to-head often. That to me is what will bring in attention, not if Wie repeats of Annika's dominance. Your thoughts?" I like Paula Creamer as much as the next guy, but I think a couple of things are keeping her from a larger crossover stardom. She hasn't won a tournament in 14 months, so there's that. Not only has she failed to win a major in her otherwise excellent career, but she's also shown a distressing habit of coming apart mentally when she's had a chance. She let the Lorena Ochoa Invitational get away and it was irritating to watch Paula pout about it between the ropes. I think she still needs to grow up a little bit. Wie may be younger but she's been through so much drama I think she's tougher. You definitely diagnosed one factor in the more widespread interest surrounding Wie: Creamer is a short hitter who plays a pretty boring percentage game. Nancy Lopez once told me that for an LPGA player to become a superstar she has to look like a woman but hit the ball like a man. That's Wie, not Creamer. But each of these talented, telegenic players can push the other to greater heights. There hasn't been a really great LPGA rivalry since Annika-Karrie around the turn of the century. Wie-Creamer potentially has a lot more to offer."Alan - any comment on the Tiger club-throwing incident? He threw it into a crowd and could have injured someone. If this goes away quietly, it will prove it's still a society for the privileged."My colleague Michael Walker has a hilarious take on this episode that I wish I had written. Obviously Tiger screwed up, but he didn't mean to tomahawk his club into the gallery, it just slipped out of his hand during a more conventional bit of pique. I think most of us would like to see Woods stop dropping f-bombs and slamming clubs – it's unbecoming and a little tacky. But you can't have it both ways. What makes Tiger the greatest winner in all of sports is how hot he burns on the inside, and it his ferocious competitiveness that produces such riveting theater. He's got his flaws, but Woods is a class act and we're all lucky to have him in our sport. (Imagine if Allen Iverson was the world's top golfer.) So I can live with Tiger's occasional lapses, even at the risk of being mocked by Michael Walker.
"Is it time to start talking about Phil in a historical sense? Every time there is a Tiger article it speaks of his quest for history, Jack's 18 majors etc. Phil is quickly moving up the career wins list and it isn't a stretch to say he could win over 50 Tour events. Why is his place in the history of the game rarely covered? If he could get to 6 majors (I know that is double his current total but definitely not out of the question) Phil should be mentioned in the top 10 or 15 of all time players, a small step below Jack, Tiger, Hogan, Jones, in the Watson, Palmer, Player realm."If he retired tomorrow, Phil would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he's not quite yet in the rarefied air you claim. Major championships are the easiest way to quantify this. Phil has three, the same as Julius Boros, Larry Nelson, Cary Middlecoff, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els and a half dozen other guys. All very, very good players, and maybe great, but not titans of the game like Palmer (seven majors), Watson (8) and Player (9). I think Phil is going to win more majors. If he gets to six, as you posit, he will elevate himself to the exalted status as of one of the greatest players of all time, especially when you throw in the U.S. Amateurs, NCAA championship and all the Tour wins. But he's not there yet."Alan, what's up with Michael Sim's battlefield promotion from the Nationwide Tour? Didn't he kind of get screwed in that deal?"No, he didn't kind of get screwed. He got royally screwed, but blame it on the quirks of the schedule. Sim won his third Nationwide event on Aug. 23, just as the FedEx Cup was beginning. That third win would normally have entitled him to start playing in the big tour right away, but it's impossible to accrue FedEx Cup points on the Nationwide so he was S.O.L. His one Fall Series start, a T55 at the Turning Stone, definitely wasn't much of a consolation. But Sim will have a full year in the big leagues in 2010, and I'm eager to see how he does. If he's as good as advertised, I expect he'll make more than a cameo in the so-called playoff events."Why do we have to continue to watch the US Open on the same courses year after year? Pebble is always highly ranked by your writers, yet everything I read points to the contrary. Sure it is on the ocean, but there are 100 golf courses on the ocean. Does money play that big a role, and why doesn't the tour ever 'do what is right for golf, and not what is right for the tour' as Tom Doak explains in PGA Confidential? Show me some new golf courses please. I don't give a crap how many more millions Tim Finchem and his cronies can scrounge up."First of all, the USGA decides on the Open rota, not the PGA Tour, which is an entirely different entity. No doubt the dandruff-covered blue coats were slaves to convention for far too long, but in recent years Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines held their first Opens, and brand-new Chambers Bay will get its turn in 2015, which was a pretty bold call. The Open returns to Merion in '13 for the first time in a million years, and it seems likely that Erin Hills will soon be tabbed for another national championship, probably in 2017. So that's a bunch of refreshing venues. At the same time, it's important to revisit some of the great old courses – they are part of the narrative of golf and the Open, and it's cool to have modern players walk the same fairways of the old-time greats. So I think the USGA has found an optimum mix of the old and the new. As for Pebble, I respectfully disagree. There are indeed other courses on the ocean, but none have the shot values, variety of holes, strategic possibilities and sheer, jaw-dropping beauty, to say nothing of the pedigree provided by Nicklaus, Watson, Woods and Shipnuck, the latter having spent three summers working there as a cart boy scooping up tips and playing free golf. That remains the best gig in golf -- yes, even more glorious than writing the Mailbag.(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)