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The Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth Rivalry Is Off - For Now

Tour Confidential: Does Rory's Injury Reframe the British Open?
Our panel debates whether a Rory-less St. Andrews would diminish the British Open, if Jordan Spieth is now the odds-on favorite, and whether Tiger Woods has any chance of recapturing his old magic in Scotland after a solid showing at the Greenbrier.

You are now entering… The Van Cynical Mailbag. Keep one hand on your wallet at all times, please:

Hey Van Cynical, Is Rory McIlroy versus Jordan Spieth going to be golf’s new rivalry?—Kenesaw88 via email

Not this year. Just when we were all ready to watch their worlds collide at the Open in St. Andrews, Rory messed up his ankle playing soccer and, I would guess, won’t be able to play. I don’t see him getting back in form in time for the PGA, either. So unless they square off repeatedly in the FedEx Cup, which Rory might be able to do, any future rivalry between the young guns is on hold until next year, unfortunately.

Van Snarkical, Was Rory playing soccer with Spieth when he got hurt?—SeveTheComm via Twitter

Well, Seve, there was one mysterious robed stranger who left the soccer pitch chuckling and Rory’s buddies later asked, “Who was that guy? He was awfully polite.” I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Hey, Deep Sicks, I’m not wondering if Rory will play in the Open, I’m wondering if he will be fully healed and 100 percent for the 2016 Masters!—SoCal Phil the Thrill via email

Always with the negative ways, Moriarty. But I agree with your point that Rory’s injury is going to have a long-term impact and he’s not going to just step back out on the course after a week or two off and resume playing great golf. I don’t see Rory being a factor in the Open or the PGA if he plays in either and possibly not in the FedEx Cup, either. Good thing it’s not a Ryder Cup year.

Van Cynical, Your thoughts on the Open Qualifying Series (spots available at Travelers, Greenbrier, John Deere)? I hate it. The Open is now barely open. — Sam Belden, via Twitter 

I agree, Beldar. The new format has greatly reduced my chances of getting in the field. So that’s bad. That said, the previous system that required Americans to fly overseas to try to qualify, and then a subsequent system that hosted qualifiers in the U.S. didn’t work very well, which was why they were replaced by this. In that sense, it’s an improvement. But now you’re effectively limiting qualifying to PGA Tour players and that makes it less open, as you correctly point out. I’m not sure I like it either, but I don’t have a better plan. Call it a brash decision but I’m just not going to go over and play the Open unless I’m exempt.

Van Cynical, Lotta long hitters besides Rory who can dismantle that place (the Old Course).—TNCowboy via Twitter

That’s right, Boycow, but as the No. 1 player in the world, Rory would’ve been the favorite. He was top ten at the Masters and U.S. Open without playing his best so he’s clearly the class of golf. Getting Rory out of the way is a potential big break for Spieth or anyone else trying to win the Open at St. Andrews.

Hey Van Shanksalot, Who’s your pick to win the Open? You dreamed Adam Scott was going to win the Open the year he blew it on the closing holes—had any more prophetic dreams?—BilliardBill via email

Based on my dreams, I’ve got it narrowed down to Marge Helgenberger and the girl from the Hannah And Her Horse commercials… so, no. I’m going with the obvious, Jordan Spieth, since everything seems to fall his way this year. Another obvious choice is Louis Oosthuizen. He won last time at St. Andrews but then had some injury problems and people have forgotten how good he really is. He made a run at Chambers Bay and is finally back on his game. If King Looey wins by five again at the Old Course, I wouldn’t be shocked.

Sick Cycle Carousel, We need a 12th for a golf trip in August and we can count on you attending, right?—Brian Bailey via Twitter

Bailstorm, I was about to answer, “Absolutely,” until I noticed a tragic typographical error that you made when you said August and not Augusta. If you meant Augusta, I’m in. August? I’m out. I’ve got the Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA and a family reunion in Minneapolis that will feature golfing grudge matches. But if it’s Augusta, I’ll throw all that out the window.

Sickle Sell, I think winning three majors is a demarcation of sorts. Which recent three-time winner's record is most impressive?—David Troyan via Twitter

Your category is tripping me up, BoyTroy. If you mean players who have won ONLY three majors, well, the only recent player to do that within the last decade was Padraig Harrington. Before that it was Vijay Singh (third major in 2004) and Payne Stewart (1999). Looking at all three-time major-winners, I’ve got to favor the hat tricks. Jimmy Demaret won a trio of Masters and Hale Irwin scored a sleeve of U.S. Opens. Those are impressive feats. I’d add Tommy Armour to that list because he’s the only three-time major holder with variety—one Open, one U.S. Open and one PGA. Now, if you mean players who have won at least three majors, now we’re throwing Tiger and Phil on the fire, plus Rory McIlroy, who won a pair of majors in runaway fashion, which is also quite impressive.

Vans, You praised playing an event at the Greenbrier and yet, the course has produced nondescript winners/leaderboards each year. — Brian Rosenwald, via Twitter

Check out the field list, Rosencrantz. It does not draw a strong field. You can’t have a glitzy leaderboard without any glitzy players in the field. The Greenbrier is a bit remote, making it less attractive to players. Just to get fans to show up, they’ve got the payoff for anyone who sees an ace at the 18th hole (some folks collected $600 for that) and a series of free nightly concert with big-name country musicians. And you didn’t think Tiger Woods was playing just because he felt like it, did you? He was incentivized, if you get my drift.

Hey Van Cynical, What did you think of last week’s French Open?—Kirby via email

It was way too French.

Custom Vans, With Tiger's recent lack of high finishes, WD's, and overall light schedule, is caddie Joe LaCava making any money? — Mike Morig, via Twitter

He’s not hawking lost golf balls and reselling them on the side, if that’s what you mean. LaCava has had a very successful run as caddie and is considered one of the best jocks on tour. He may be working on a retainer or straight salary basis for Tiger, I don’t know the details of their business relationship, but I’m sure Joe is doing just fine.

Vans, What is Steve Elkington really like?—BigMark via Twitter

He’s like a younger Jackie Burke who can draw. He reminds me of the two hecklers in the balcony from the old Muppet Show. Those guys are great, if occasionally politically incorrect.

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Ankle Rupture Puts McIlroy's British Open Defense In Doubt
Rory McIlroy announced a serious ankle injury that makes a British Open title defense at St. Andrews doubtful.

 

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