Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Tiger and Phil's endorsements, Tom Watson at 60 and John Daly's appeal

Alan, with Tiger losing endorsements at a
nifty pace, how close is Phil to surpassing him in annual income? Could Phil
earn more money than Tiger, purses and endorsements combined, this year?
LKH

It could happen, but only if Phil plays great
golf. The best estimates for 2009 had Tiger raking in a mind-boggling $122
million to Phil's haul at $42 million. Tiger's on-course earnings were $21
million, including his bloated FedEx Cup bonuses, while Phil banked $9.6
million between the ropes. March5_tiger_phil_600x399

Let's say Tiger loses half his endorsement income
this year, putting him at $50 million, the majority of it coming from Nike. Now
let's say when he returns to golf he plays only okay by his old standards, and
pulls in $5 million. That gives him a hypothetical $55 million. Assuming Phil's
endorsement income is about the same, he'd need to win $13 or $14 million on
the course. That would require a handful of wins and that he finishes no worse
than 2nd in the FedEx Cup standings. This is doable, notwithstanding
Mickelson's sluggish start to the year.

Is Tom Watson the best in-his-sixties golfer
ever? I know he has putting problems, which prevent him from winning week in
and week out on the Champions Tour, but he still hits the ball remarkably well,
and he doesn't appear to be slowing down.
Corrie

Watson has only been 60 for six months, so
we'll see how much he's got left, or how motivated he is. Hale Irwin remains
the gold standard for the really old guys. He won four tournaments in 2005, the
year he turned he 60, and finished second on the Senior money list. Irwin won
again in 2007 and finished 10th in money, at 62. Watson is longer
and more explosive than Irwin was, but I'm not sure he wants it as much as Hale
did. I'd actually like to see Watson abandon the Seniors and play a full
schedule on the PGA Tour, focusing on shorter, position courses and the majors.
This would keep him engaged and give him the chance to make more magic, a la
Turnberry.

Why does almost every finishing hole with water have it on the left side, and never
the right? Examples: Players, Pebble, Wachovia, Phoenix, Doral, and probably
more I don't know of.
Chris

Architects know that the vast majority of
everyday players fade/slice the ball. Water down the left side looks
intimidating but is not really in play for most hackers, giving these weekend
warriors the chance to finish their rounds with some dignity and leave them
more likely to pony up the overpriced greens fees for these courses.

Why don't the tough Florida courses get more
respect?
Andy Ross

Because they're not that memorable. They all look and feel more or less
the same: flat, with big, round bunkers, lotsa water, innumerable palm trees,
maybe a few wetlands thrown in for what passes for variety. Compare that to the
awesome tracks of the West Coast swing: the heaving earth and incredible
geometry of the Plantation Course; Torrey's canyons and arroyos and endless
views; the sculpted fairways and incredible greens complexes of Riviera; the crashing
waves and jaw-dropping shot values of Pebble; and the rugged desert beauty of
Dove Mountain.

Seeing the report about John Daly's various
suspensions from the tour, reminds me that he often doesn't really try his very
best. Why, then, does he remain such a fan favorite?
Andy Ross

I think this is a testament to the mysterious
power of the autograph. Over the last two decades Daly has probably spent more
time scribbling his name than any other player in golf, including Phil. JD is
warm and gracious whenever he interacts with fans, and they reward him with
blind loyalty. This is a lesson that Tiger should heed: If you give the fans
just a little love they'll forgive you almost anything.

Wanted to follow up with you on your "No"
response to Mike Weir winning another tournament. Could you expand? Just
wondering as he is still Top 50 in the world ranking.
Jason

Anyone who rolls the ball as well as Weir still
does is always a threat to win, but the guy is on his third different swing in
the last six years. When he stands over the ball you can practically see him
going through a long checklist of do's and don'ts. That's no way to play golf.
Weir has reunited with Mike Wilson, his instructor during his glory years in
the early '00s, so I guess there's a chance he can still figure things out. But
Weir turns 40 years old in a couple of months, he's got tons of scar tissue
from the last five years and he's giving away 50 yards to the Rickie Fowlers of
the world. So I'm afraid his time has passed.

The Ryder Cup is looking to be the biggest
beatdown in history. Does Pavin have a chance or a clue?
Tim Delaney

He has a chance. We'll see if he has a clue.
The most successful American Ryder Cup captain of recent vintage is Paul
Azinger, and Pavin said earlier this week he has sought counsel from various
past captains but he hasn't yet spoken to Zinger. This strikes me as very bad
course management. But we all know a captain is only as good as his players. Europe
is going to be a heavy favorite, playing at home with a powerhouse squad that
right now boasts 8 players in the top 13 of the World Ranking — not including Robert Karlsson or Alvaro Quiros or Luke
Donald or Oliver Wilson of Miguel Angel Jiminez or Graeme McDowell or various
Molinaris or Hanso/ens, who are all in the Top 50.

But the Euros were supposed
to be favorites last time around and they looked tight and shaky while getting
blown out. There will be even more pressure playing in Wales. And given the
U.S.'s excellent chemistry at Valhalla and then at the Presidents Cup, it's
possible the sum of this team will again be greater than the parts. As with
everything in golf, Tiger Woods is a big wildcard. His tremendous play and
passion lifted all of the Americans at Harding Park, so he could again be
pivotal at the Ryder Cup, if he's ready to play. As deep as the Euros are, the
Americans are top-heavy with big-time players like Tiger, Phil, Furyk and
Stricker. They could collectively carry the team to an upset victory, but it's
hard to imagine it happening without Tiger at his best.

Who is most effective at match play mind games/strategy and why? Thanks dawg.Matt McLain

Sergio drives his opponents to distraction, just
by being Sergio. Paddy Harrington has a habit of walking to the green from 100
yards out during crunch time, and this can be quite vexing to the guys he's
playing against. Anthony Kim has displayed a tendency to walk toward the next
tee as his opponent is still putting out, which is always irritating. Tiger has
been known to say nothing on the first tee, unnerving the other guy. But sadly,
the glory days of Seve coughing in opponent's backswings and Zinger wantonly
alleging rules violation have more or less ended, and all the gamesmanship these
days is pretty subtle. But with Monty as Ryder Cup captain we can all keep our
fingers crossed that something unsavory will happen!

Ship, if I bought you for what you're worth and sold you for what you
think you're worth how much profit would I make?
David

Put it this way: you'd rank very high on the PGA Tour's all-time money list.
(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI) Follow Alan Shipnuck on Twitter

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