So many questions, so few brain cells left to respond, so why waste time with mere written words, let’s get right to the Van Cynical Mailbag. As always, thanks for asking…
Vans, What did you do during the Tour’s off-season?
--Mark Brown via Twitter
I hibernated. That was the longest 10 days of my life. It was a brutal time, man. Say, I hope you weren’t expecting one of those fifth-grade essays on What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Mine was titled, “How I Accidentally Killed a Guy.” Got a C-minus from Mrs. Allen. She was mean.
Van Cynical, What’s the best part about being a golf writer? Meeting all the players?
--Bob Estes, PGA Tour player via Twitter
Probably playing golf with Tiger once a week and secretly being his best friend. Nobody knows. Either that or the weekly free cold cuts.
Vans, Does the U.S. really use the Paul Azinger pod system for the Presidents Cup like Phil Mickelson said? If so, how long have they been doing that?
--Michael Abbass via Twitter
You are sharp, Bad-ass. Phil’s comment comes as news to me. I never heard captain Fred Couples mention the word “pod.” Maybe Fred does, indeed, borrow some of the pod psychology but I don’t know that for a fact. Thanks for a great follow-up question to ask Phil.
Van Shankapotamus, Who would you like to see as the next Ryder Cup captain?
--Klaugh56 via Twitter
It’s gotta be one of three guys, Kirb Your Enthusiasm -- Paul Azinger, Fred Couples or Phil Mickelson. I do not support Bruce Willis for captain.
Van Scythe, First stage of Q school is done, many good players failed. Should PGA Tour start 12-month mini-tour farm system like baseball?
--Christof Appel via Twitter
You mean as a long-term project to help our losing Ryder Cup teams? We’ve already got the fabulous Web.com Tour. There’s the Challenge Tour in Europe. There are PGA Tour commodities in Canada and South America. There are assorted dying mini-tours. There are already more places to play and more tournaments to play than anyone can find sponsors to pay for. We’re good, Apps.
Vans, If Mike Van Sickle makes it through Q school, you gonna caddie?
--Eric Houser via Twitter
That’s still a few stages away, Full House. Steve Stricker told me when Mike played the John Deere and I was on the bag that it was a two-shot penalty. I have yet to disprove that. I’m a bag-toter, a Tour player needs a pro jock.
Van Cynical, Do you hate the St. Louis Cardinals as much as the rest of the world?
--Fake Poulter via Twitter
I live in Pittsburgh, so what do you think, Fake? The Cards have the Pirates’ number. Hate is a strong word. I’m simply tired of the Cards and their great pitching and ridiculous clutch hitting. They remind me of the European Ryder Cup team. Move over, Cards, and give someone else a chance. And no, I don’t mean you, Cubbies.
Van Farcical, What is the third best course in the Philly area -- behind Pine Valley and Merion, of course?
--Kevin Currie via Twitter
Though I live in Pittsburgh, a dreadful five-hour drive from Philly, my sources tell me it is most likely the Philadelphia Cricket Club, which I have played and greatly enjoyed. Two other nominees would be Rolling Green and Gulph Mills, neither of which I have played.
Van Cynical, Who’s the best left-handed LPGA player ever?
--Matt Wainright via Twitter
I’ll be danged, Matty W. I don’t know. I can’t name a big-winning female lefty. A little help, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Van Sickle, Any way to change the Presidents Cup format to all foursomes so the ‘Mericans can practice?
--Chad Rucker via Twitter
I don’t think it’s the foursomes format that is the U.S. problem, that’s just a symptom. In 2012, the Americans got crushed in singles, man on man. Nobody suggested we start practicing singles harder because we don’t know how to play it. Foursomes and singles are formats where talent rises to the top and, as I mentioned in a previous column, the Europeans are simply a better team and have been for quite some time. No shame in that.
Vans, Can you think of any reason why Tiger Woods would wear the jeans he wears? #scareofftheladies?
--The Bogey Train via Twitter
Far be it for rumpled sportswriters to offer fashion tips to Tiger or anyone else. As long as Tiger doesn’t have mustard stains on it, he’s dressed better than us.
Van Cynical, Matt Kuchar thinks the first three fall events should move before the FedEx Cup with the new season starting in Asia. Make sense? And if the season starts in Asia, could the next Tour expansion be in Australia, breathing life into historic events on that dying tour?
--Jeff via Twitter
You start the new season in Asia, Jeffy, that’s step one to creating a world tour. Which is step one to losing a majority of the PGA Tour stops in America. Be careful what you wish for, world tour-wise. Moving fall events earlier could work for spacing but then the mighty FedEx Cup playoffs get killed against football and the World Series and, more important, your assorted TV networks aren’t interested in showing them then. I’m all for those cool events Down Under but the Tour will expand to places where sponsors are willing to pony up the big bucks. It’s a money thing, not a history thing.
Sickle, The 2015 FedEx Cup race has begun. Were you just as excited at this point last year?
--Howard Riefs via Twitter
Probably more so since all of America was basking in the glow of another glorious Presidents Cup team victory. Can’t believe you don’t get FedEx Cup points for that.
Vans, If Tiger decided to play every PGA Tour event in 2000, how many events would he have won?
--Foryourbenefit via Twitter
I love time-travel questions, FYB. It reminds me of that alternative history novel I read about “What if the South had automatic weapons during the Civil War?” Yeah, they would’ve won. It’s hard to estimate the fatigue factor on Tiger to play 40-plus tournaments. Maybe he would have blown out his back and his knee that very year. If not, I think he could’ve been a 20-game winner.
Van Cynical, the PGA Tour has a yearlong schedule, the Prez Cup, playoffs, global tours, rising stars, $300 million in prize money. Isn’t a major next on their list?
--UW via Twitter
Money can’t buy a major, UW, which is why the PGA Tour doesn’t already run one. I’m not counting those 11 major championships on the Champions Tour.
Van Tastic, Give your Mailbag regulars an update on Mike Van Sickle (@MVS_Golf).
--Michael O’Connor via Twitter
Only because you asked, Mannix. Mike V led wire-to-wire at the first stage of Q school in Nebraska City, Neb., and was co-medalist. He got an A in a pass-fail course and is now off to the second stage, presumably in Florida. The second stage is the big one. Get past that, you’re going to get some kind of status on Web.com and maybe launch to the big tour. Don’t get past second stage and you’ve got nothing.
Vans, I’ve always thought a win in the first stage of Q school should be worth a spot in the final stage, allowing that player to skip the second stage.
--Ryan O’Sullivan via Twitter
That’s a great idea, Gilbert, especially since I’m the dad of a player who just finished first in the first stage. Upon further review, I see problems with that idea. What if there’s a three-way tie? Or a five-way tie? Would all five get a pass or would you hold some kind of playoff? Second, what reward could you give to a player who wins at the second stage, where the fields are much stronger than at first stage? A pass to the final stage? They already have that. So that would be an issue. I like the concept, though. Especially if it included retroactive credit starting now.