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Sergio Garcia returns to the top of the Best Players Without a Major list, plus Rory and Phil in the Van Cynical Mailbag

Sergio Garcia
Angus Murray/SI
Sergio Garcia shot 66 on Sunday at the British Open but couldn't catch winner Rory McIlroy.

What’s this, a message in a bottle? Fan mail from a flounder? Nope, it’s the Van Cynical Mailbag. And we’re off…

Vans, So who’s the best player without a major now? Sergio, Rickie or someone else?
--Decker via email

Looks like I’ll have to update and revise my majorless rankings again because clearly, Sergio has regained the coveted title that he lost with a couple of years of poor play. The difference now is, I think Sergio can and will win a major. Now he knows he can make putts under pressure. That’s a game-changer. Who’s second in the rankings? It might be too soon for Fowler and Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have slid down in the top 10. Dustin Johnson, perhaps? I’ll look into it.

Van Cynical, That’s three majors for Rory. Does he catch Jack, Tiger, Faldo or Phil? And does he get the career Grand Slam?
--Douglas via email

I get your enthusiasm, Dougie, but it’s too soon for a countdown to Jack or Tiger. Rory is still 11 majors away from Tiger. I suppose he could win the Grand Slam three straight years and cover it but it’s just not that easy. I think he’s a lock to pass Phil, who has five, and a good bet to catch Faldo at six. After that, it’s up to his health and his desire. We already saw how Rory got derailed once by fame and fortune. Is he really chasing Jack’s total of 18 as Tiger was? I don’t think so. Motivation and drive will be his big challenge. Career Grand Slam for Rors? Extremely likely.

Vans, Just re-read your Hoylake predictions in Tour Confidential. It was like you had the papers a week in advance. Take a bow.
--Andy Orrock via Twitter

I have but one regret about picking Rory to win the British if Hoylake stayed soft and Sergio to win the British if it stayed firm, I didn’t place a wager. Of course, there’s no wagering here at Bushwood.

Van Cynical, Who gets the career Grand Slam first, Rory or Phil?
--Dvincent via email

The way Phil has struggled through this year, it’s hard to see him winning another major or even another Tour event. Golfers always go through slumps but at Phil’s age, you wonder if this is the slump he never comes out of? Phil’s putting is what disturbs me the most. That’s why I’ll go with Rory, who can fill in his Slam next April.

Vans, Did anyone notice that while Rory McIlroy was winning the British Open on Sunday, his ex-girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki won the women’s tennis event? Coincidence?
--Jason via email

Caroline noticed. But it probably was a coincidence. She’s one of the best players in her game, she’s a likely pick to win on any given Sunday. And, oh yeah, kiss my racquet!

Vans, Is Rickie Fowler the real deal and going to win a bunch or is he going to be a Luke Donald type who finishes third 10 times a year?
--Michael via email

Well, Luke was a little better than that. He got to No. 1 in the world without winning a major but he’s had his wins. We’re looking at a new-and-improved version of Fowler, thanks to coach Butch Harmon. If he keeps putting himself in position to win as he has, the wins will come. He did a hell of a job scrambling his rear end off at Hoylake on Sunday just to come to the closing holes with an outside chance of winning. I’m bullish on Rickie.

Van Cynical, Let me re-pick the major venues for next year: U.S. Open: Laurel Valley. PGA: Pasatiempo. Done! Your thoughts
--Michael (Mannix) O’Connor via Twitter

Who wouldn’t love Laurel Valley? I don’t want to slam Chambers Bay in Seattle before we’ve seen it in action but there is definitely a potential to have Kiawah Island-like traffic problems just getting there. The best route? By boat. While Pasatiempo is a wonderful track that has kicked my butt on several occasions, you really couldn’t have a major at a course where houses crowd the fairways like that. Probably still beats Valhalla, though.

Van Sickle, You’re absolutely correct about scoring in majors. Too often the U.S. Open is set up to find the best accountant.
--Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Thanks, Mandrake. Nobody fakes their way to scoring records. That’s why the ones in majors have always been held by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger, Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd and Rory. With high scores, you get Paul Lawrie and Shaun Micheel, good players who had great weeks.

Van Cynical, The Olympics needs golf like a fish needs a bicycle.
--Michael (Mannix) O’Connor via Twitter

Don’t get me started, Mannix. I have long been a vocal opponent of golf in the Olympics. We already have the Olympics in golf -- the four majors. But if you really must join the pretense that is the Olympics, it should be a team event and not an individual event where most of the top players are kept out while the Jamaican bobsled team gets to play. How about we weed out some of the stiffs with qualifying, like every other Olympic sport?

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