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Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Tiger's return, Finchem's apologies and Mickelson's flowing locks

If Tiger doesn't come back for the Masters, do you think he comes back at all this year? I'd say that's the litmus test. — Chad M. Hayes, via Twitter I think the U.S. Open is really the key point in the schedule. If Tiger doesn't play Pebble I won't expect to see him until 2011. The Masters feels way too soon for him to come back, but he has more than two months between Augusta and Pebble to get his game—and life—back in order. If Tiger is up for it, Pebble could kick off a triumphant comeback summer. But given how shaky he looked during his monologue, I wouldn't count on anything at this point. "Is there any chance Mike Weir will win again?" — Kim G. No. "I don't recall Tim Finchem apologizing for much, if anything, during his tenure. That said, we are now not even two months into the new season and he has had to apologize twice for poor communication issues (grooves and Tiger speech). Just wondering if you think he is losing a step, getting bad advice, or just admitting he is normal and makes mistakes like everyone else." — Mike It has been fascinating to watch the Commish's winter of discontent. To your list of screwups, you can also add the poorly handled Jim Thorpe suspension. I give Finchem credit for taking ownership of these mistakes, but he definitely needs to step up his game, and soon. When Tiger Woods was known only as the most dominant athlete in sports, serving as PGA Tour commissioner was like being the proverbial Maytag repairman, only with a much more bloated salary. But right now the Tour is foundering and Finchem needs not only to lead but also to soothe and inspire. We'll see if he's up to the job. [Regarding the L.A. Open], why does Roger Maltbie have to pump Steve Stricker with his typical tear-eliciting questions all the time? Is this what people want to see, Stricker crying again? Is this what interviewing has come to?" — Randy In Maltbie's defense, Stricker bawls after every victory, regardless of who is doing the interviewing. Even though it's predictable, I secretly enjoy seeing the emotion pour out of Stricker because it shows how much he cares. "Why does the USGA require someone to be a member of a club in order to get an official handicap? It seems antiquated and even a bit discriminatory. If they want to get people more interested in the game, they need to make it more accessible. I, for one, think they should set up an online handicap system for USGA members. They'll get lots of interest, they could supplement it with advertising from manufacturers, and it would be more 'open'. Thoughts?" —Nathan W. Having handicaps pegged to a club is done to encourage oversight, so people aren't posting scores in a vacuum. But the club doesn't have to be Augusta National. It doesn't even have an actual golf course. I'm a member of the Northern California Golf Association's "eclub," which, allows me to post scores at home, if I so desire. It's around $50 bucks a year for membership and comes with lots of goodies, like discounted greens fees and special members-only outings (but, sadly, no Members Only jackets). Just about every state or regional golf association offers similar services. Check it out. "Which streak will go longer: Phil not winning or Phil not cutting his hair? I'm not sure which one he needs more." —Emmett Seriously, look at how much a haircut has helped Camilo Villegas. Phil has been probed on this topic before and his response was basically this: Amy likes my hair long so I don't care what the rest of you think. We all know a happy wife is a happy life, so I guess we'll let Phil slide on this one. But if he starts looking like Charley Hoffman, I might have to go rogue and step in with a pair of scissors.Follow Alan Shipnuck on Twitter.Have a question for Alan? Leave it in the comments field below.

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by Kevin Cunningham