Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Post-Barclays edition

Tuesday September 1st, 2009

Apparently the Golf.com readers have been waylayed by a virulent strain of FedEx Cup fever — how else to explain the dearth of probing questions? C'mon, people, this is the playoffs, we gotta finish strong. Put it another way — are we Strickers, or are we Slocums?"My favorite (not just because I thought of it) idea to make the FedEx cup exciting and relatable: When we reach the Tour Championship, we throw out the points and give players SHOTS instead. So, the guy leading the points gets a five shot lead over the field. Two thru five get two shots. Six thru 15 get one shot, and 15-30 play with no shots. That way, the guy in 30th would not just have to win, but would have to scorch the field to win The Cup, but at least he has a chance. Plus, it would make the leaderboard a lot easier to understand. Thoughts?"This is so wacky it's brilliant. I've felt from the beginning one of the Cup's biggest flaws is that it imposes points on a game that keeps score with strokes. Points has no meaning or context, but giving strokes is something every golfer can relate to. This is like my suggestion to save the Skins Game — make the players each kick in a million dollars of their own money. It's so obvious it will never happen, and neither will this reader's inspired idea."Tiger rarely plays three consecutive weeks. He has skipped a FedEx tournament in years past. He played three consecutive weeks leading up to the PGA and now will apparently play four consecutive tournaments during the FedEx Cup Series. Why is he playing so many weeks this time of the year? Has Finchem asked him to step it up for television ratings?"Tiger has quietly been a very good soldier this year, entertaining key corporate suits at the commissioner's request and buzzing into Grand Blanc to pay his respects to a tournament and sponsor that was very good to the Tour (and, it must be said, to Tiger's bank account). But I don't think he's coming strong in the FedEx out of benevolence. Even before the PGA, he was still searching for a consistency in his game that has been elusive in his comeback from knee surgery. I think he always planned on using this FedEx Cup as a kind of early spring training for next year. And after the debacle at the PGA he had even more reason to keep grinding."More surprising — Tiger spitting the bit at the PGA or Lorena Ochoa falling off the map the last 4 months?"Most surprising is Tiger whiffing that putt on the 72nd hole at the Barclay's. Lorena is going through a huge transition off the course, on the verge of not only getting married but also becoming a stepmom to three kids. She cut back her schedule this year to deal with the off-course distractions and has never been able to find her vaunted consistency. Tiger losing the 54 hole lead at a major was a shocker, but it had to happen sooner or later. Despite evidence to the contrary, he is human, and he ran into a talented guy playing the best golf of his life. But I'm still reeling from that missed putt on the final hole of The Barclays. It had all the makings of a classic Tiger moment, beginning with a perfectly executed shot under pressure. To blow the subsequent putt, while the golf world is still trying to make sense of the PGA collapse, is the most un-Tigerlike thing imaginable."Why do LPGA tour caddies spend so much time helping their golfers with alignment off the tee? Do the women struggle more with proper alignment, do they lack confidence, or are their caddies that much better?"The whole caddie alignment thing is one of my biggest pet peeves in golf. I seem to recall the dean at Harvard got into hot water for opining that women have less inherent aptitude for math than men, so I'm not going to suggest proper alignment is gender specific. I think this is about peer pressure more than anything else. A couple of top players — Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer — started using their caddies to check alignment, and seeing their success, other LPGA players felt compelled to try it, too. This kind of viral copycatting happens on the PGA Tour, too, whether it's the claw putting grip or stack 'n tilt swing. I'd love to see this caddie business legislated out of the game. Shouldn't every touring pro be able to aim correctly?"Any buzz on Tour this weekend from Page Six's blurb on the PGA pro who, supposedly, got in a little trouble with a stipper in Akron and gave her some hush money?"Lotsa buzz, and a short list of candidates have emerged. I'd print their names, too, but I kinda like being employed. See below..."How long are you people going to run this article? It's been up all week. Hey, Shippie, you only write articles once a week and get paid a buzzlion dollars - you've got it made."Well, I do write for SI, too, and after doing game stories from the PGA and Solheim I'm headed to the BMW and then will plunge straight into a very juicy feature, which I'll talk more about at the appropriate time. But I know I've got a cushy gig, and you know it too. As for my buzzilion dollar salary, that's rounding up a bit. Put it this way, I'm no Todd Hamilton. He finished DFL at the Barclays and still cashed $14K for his efforts. Wouldn't it be cool to be the worst person in your profession for a given week and still get paid that kind of cheddar?

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