Do ever see fans bringing their phones into a tourney? — Michael Brigham, Los AngelesYes, I saw it today during the first round at Torrey Pines. The Tour is doing a beta test to allow some phone usage. At Torrey the designated approved areas were around the concession areas and clusters of outhouses, far from play. A few people loitered in these areas, but tons of fans were brazenly following Tiger and Phil, phone in hand. I saw marshals take PDAs from three people (they were given a claim check and could retrieve them when exiting). Whatever the letter of the law may be, the policy in effect seemed to be that if folks were walking a discreet distance from the ropes and pecking out texts/emails/tweets, they were left alone.
Along the rope line people were told to put their phones away, but I didn't see any confiscated for quiet thumbing. Anyone talking or, especially, taking a picture was treated with extreme prejudice. I didn't witness any instances where a fan's phone interfered with play. Overall, I think this is a pretty promising start. At every other sporting event spectators can have their phones. These days no one wants to lose the ability to sext for eight or ten hours. I hope the Tour continues to refine the policy and its enforcement, and that fans are respectful enough so that phones, within reason, will be allowed at Tour events. It certainly makes it easier for me live-tweet out there!Can you name the top five American players in 2016? You can't even name two, can you? Europe owns us. — Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes, N.Y.In this order: Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim, Jamie Lovemark, Rickie Fowler, Peter Uihlein. That wasn't so hard.Ignoring what the OWGR says, in your opinion who are the top five? — GolfnutBased strictly on the results of the last 12 months, which I think should be the time horizon for the World Ranking, I'd go: 1. Kaymer 2. McDowell 3. Westwood 4. Furyk 5. Kuchar/Mickelson (tie)
How do you define "talent"? It is an ephemeral, idiosyncratic thing. For me, it's the ability to execute difficult shots; an imaginative short game; power; clutch putting; ability to shape shots. My list of the game's most talented players: 1. Woods 2. Mickelson 3. Dustin Johnson 4. Rory McIlroy 5. Anthony Kim
What's the big difference in these lists? The top Euros are grinders and technicians who bring a relentless desire to compete and maximize their abilities.Which would you rather watch/write about: Tiger wins the first two majors of the year, or Martin Kaymer wins the first two? Follow up: while I admit both scenarios are totally unrealistic, which is more likely? — Scott MorganTrick question. If Kaymer won the first two majors, he'd go to the British seeking the Tiger Slam. It'd be a monumental achievement and a great story but not nearly as much fun as Tiger taking the first two. Kaymer is a golfer's golfer but he doesn't capture the imagination of the general sports fan, to say nothing of magazine editors and other media gatekeepers. I'm a fan of Kaymer's and got to know him and his family pretty well reporting a big feature last year. I'd be thrilled for him, but there is no athlete on the planet who moves the needle like Tiger. If this comeback year includes a triumph at the Masters it'll be a blockbuster moment, and I'd love to write the cover story for SI. As to which scenario is more likely, you gotta say Kaymer. He has no weaknesses. If Tiger sprays it at Congressional, it'll be close to impossible for him to win the Open.Are there players that statistically putt better in different regions of the country or is good putting good putting? @Frazerrice, via twitterI've never seen stats on this, but no question players putt differently on different grasses. Phil is a California guy, and one of the reasons so many of his wins have come on the West Coast—early in his career that was practically the only place he won—is because he has issues with Bermuda greens, which is what you find all over the Southeast. A lot of East Coast guys struggle on poa annua like you find at Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach and other West Coast tracks. Did you see the details on Tiger's new backyard practice area? He built four greens, each with different grasses to replicate different playing conditions. So, yes, turf is a big, big deal to finicky Tour players.Alan, what do you think of Tiger doing these Q&A sessions on Twitter? I'm loving it, fo' shizzle! I hope he keeps doing them! — BarbaraHey, Barb, thanks for keeping "fo' shizzle" alive – I thought it died in 2006. Yes, it's cool that Tiger is (slowly) embracing Twitter. I've seen some of the texts he's sent other players; the guy is a pre-eminent trash-talker. It would be fun if he would let go a little and get with the Poulter-Westwood banter. Tiger can definitely hold his own. For a control freak like Woods, Twitter should be a no-brainer – he can reach fans without the filter of the pesky media. I think eventually he'll do a lot more with the medium. I hope so. Fans have gotten to know (and like) dozens of seemingly dull Tour players through Twitter. It could be a huge boost for Woods's ongoing image reclamation.
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