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Van Cynical: Will the Americans Finally Win Back the Cup?

Tour Confidential: How the Loss of Arnold Palmer Will Be Felt at Hazeltine
Our panel discusses the legacy of Arnold Palmer at the Ryder Cup -- an event he was passionate about -- and how his passing will be felt at this year's competition at Hazeltine.

CHASKA, Minn.—The buildup is almost over, the Ryder Cup is nearing its Friday start. All we’ve got to do now is survive the dreadfully long, overblown Opening Ceremony on Thursday. To hold you over, here are some morsels from the Van Cynical Mailbag.

Hey Van Singles, How many will the USA win by given home turf, more experienced team and huge Medinah monkey on their back? Five or six points?—PGCusack via Twitter

Slow down, Sack. How’d that home turf work out at Medinah? That was Earnest Byner fumbling at the goal line. More experienced? Yes, they’re more experienced at losing the Ryder Cup. The Medinah monkey is nothing compared to the Gleneagles monkey when the in-fighting went public and a task force had to be formed. I think it’ll be close, as usual, but it’ll be the Euros, as usual.

Hey Van Cynical, If someone got up in the U.S. team room and said, "All men die but not all truly live," there'd be shrugs and smirks, no?—Frank via Twitter

Let me be frank, Frank. Dustin Johnson would simply give a knowing nod.

Van Sickfourballs, Who’s the likely pick for the young player to pair with Phil and be taken under his wing?—Kevin Montminy via Twitter

Phil likes to play with big hitters. Good chance he’ll be paired with Ryder Cup rookie Brooks Koepka, a basher. Phil could draw a pairing with Jimmy Walker, too, although Walker and Rickie Fowler may do an encore of their pairing two years ago.

Van Cynical, No questions this week. I am convinced EUROPE will win again! Sergio will make the winning putt!—The Bogey Train via Twitter

That’s an interesting scenario, TrainMan. Singles happen to be Sergio’s worst category. He’s 3-4 in singles, 15-4-5 in everything else.

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Hey Van SickRyder, Your thoughts on Davis Love's comments, “The best golf team maybe ever assembled.” Had he been drinking?—Kit Duncan via Twitter

The comment was slightly better in its entire context but ultimately, it was something Love was telling his team to fire them up. He should not have said it in a press conference because on its face, it is ludicrous. In addition, he and Darren Clarke have both been trying to position their teams as the underdog in this match. So you’re the underdog AND the best team ever assembled? The 1981 team, of course, featured 11 future Hall of Famers among the 12 players. It’s just another quote for the European media and the European team to feast on. Never give the other guys bulletin board fodder. It was a mistake.

Hey Van American Cynical, Which US player will get the least playing time?—Al Pindara via Twitter

Hazeltine is playing long and soft, so a shorter hitter who’s not hitting on all cylinders may set an extra session. Zach Johnson, normally a scud missile, could be a candidate. But I think Davis believes in using his whole bench so I won’t be surprised if everybody on the team gets two matches before singles.

Hey Van Cynical, Ryder Cup captain: most over-rated position in sports?—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Nope, they retired that trophy with football’s sideline reporter. Who almost never does any reporting, but is great at rehashing something read in Thursday’s paper a few days earlier.

Hey Van Cynical, In a sport where coach matters the least, Phil puts his losses on the coach. I think I’m rooting for the Euros.—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Understood, Drake. I’m rooting for a Sunday finish.

Hey Van Cynical, Why all of the videos (at Golf.com)? Doesn't anybody read anymore?—Ted Watson via Twitter

Come on, Ted. I covered that in my last video.

Hey Van Sinkhole, My wife asked me Sunday what was the appeal of Arnold Palmer. I told her he was James Bond before there was James Bond.—Dave Conlon via Twitter

The name is Palmer. Arnold Palmer. Yeah, I think that works. Tell the valet to pull the Aston Martin around front.

Hey Sicklemeter, Ben Hogan needs Dan Jenkins to help keep his legacy alive. Arnold Palmer needs nobody to help carry his water. Forever.—David Troyan via Twitter

Let’s see, Arnie flew his own plane around the world, has a drink named after him and he invented golf on TV plus sports agentry and marketing. Not bad for a Coast Guard alum. It’s funny, Boy Troy, but time passes quickly. Johnny Carson was bigger than big and yet he’s already an afterthought. Palmer’s difference was how he impacted everyone he met, plus their families. As long as anyone who met him is alive, his legacy will burn damned bright.

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