Van Cynical Mailbag: Breaking down the Ryder Cup captains' picks and your questions answered
The Van Cynical Mailbag thanks you for your questions and for not sending them postage-due. By the way, I just discovered a batch of Bobby Jones and Babe Zaharias 18-cent stamps in an old closet. Remember when golf was that cool? Me neither.
Let’s dig in…
Cynical One, What did you think of the Ryder Cup captains’ picks? -- Kirby via email
They were oh-so predictable. In fact, I called all six, as did a lot of others, I’m sure. The PGA of America didn’t grab Tom Watson to be captain because he thinks outside the box. He picked old veterans when he captained in 1993, and he went with veterans again here, although in his defense, no one else other than Chris Kirk did much more than twitch in the entire month of August. McGinley had to take Ian Poulter, obviously, and Scotland’s own Stephen Gallacher clearly played his way onto the team. That left Westwood over Donald, a pretty easy choice this year. To be honest, the picks were almost a letdown. No surprises. At least the European Tour had an efficient, orderly and neat press conference at Wentworth. The Americans turned a 15-minute spiel into a god-awful two-hour television show in which they barely got around to asking Watson who his picks were.
Van Cynical, Thinking outside the box: Watson picks Gary Woodland and watches him bomb it 100 yards past the Euros. Am I onto something here? Or pick three players who have no scars of losing to the Euros, like Bill Haas, Russell Henley and Woodland instead of three former Ryder Cup losers. The old thinking hasn’t worked, so why should we expect any different result? -- Michael (Mannix) O’Connor via Twitter
I combined several of your Tweets, Mannix, and you have some good ones, although Mr. Woodland isn’t going to bomb it 100 yards past Rory McIlroy. I like your thinking, but Watson is as square as a right angle. He believes in experience for Ryder Cuppers. You could, and I did, see this coming. Where’s Brett Wetterich and Jeff Overton when you need ‘em?
Sickle, Didn’t everyone at the PGA say Phil Mickelson should be paired with Rickie Fowler? And now Keegan Bradley? How many guys can he play with? -- Len Hochberg via Twitter
The man is versatile, H-Berg. He’s got three kids. I bet he can play with at least two partners at once. He’s Phil. He chips with a 60-degree wedge. He can do anything. Other than win Ryder Cups by his damned self.
Vans, Poulter is a Ryder Cup hero but he’s earned less OWGR points than Danny Willet and Tommy Fleetwood. Where is the form? Apparently, McGinley called Langer but NOT Monty, who just won a tournament by ten shots. How upset to you think Monty was? -- The Bogey Train via Twitter
Poulter is the Pied Piper for the Euros, Training Pants. And also the backup team mascot behind vice captain Sam Torrance. They’ve gotta have Poults, no matter how he plays. He shows up for the big games, some way or another. We’ll see if he does it again, but he has worn down the doubters. Monty said he and Langer could win a point this year. It’s easy to talk big when you know there’s no chance of having to back it up. Monty may pretend to be chaffed, but at this point of his career, he knows he doesn’t belong on the same field as McIlroy and Kaymer.
Sickle, Do you think Chris Kirk should’ve been one of Watson’s three picks? -- Douglas437 via email
Yes. He finished 14th on the points list, ahead of Webb Simpson, and he won one of the FedEx Cup events. I would’ve given him Simpson’s spot. Watson stumbled at the press conference when explaining why he picked Simpson, saying he noticed Tuesday morning the scores from the 2012 Ryder Cup where Simpson and Bubba Watson won matches by a 5 & 4 margin. Guess he missed the part where Simpson lost his crucial singles match. Watson also said he’s a seasons guy, and he believes Simpson plays well in the fall and the first day of Autumn is Sept. 22. I could buy in if Watson had said, ‘Simpson won a U.S. Open. What else do you need to now?’ But the duo scores and the date? That’s right out of the Magic 8-Ball.
Vans, Should the USGA adopt two handicaps, one for your home course and one for away courses? Who else is tired of being sandbagged by 16s at your own course? -- Brian Bailey via Twitter
Your home-course handicap is supposed to be adjusted at away courses based on the course ratings and SLOPE, Bail-jumper, so you’ve already got two handicaps. I agree, however, that sandbaggers are a scourge. I know a gutless guy at a club in my area who masquerades as a 6 or an 8 and doesn’t play in the men’s club championship because he doesn’t want to post legit scores and mess up his carefully-finagled number for the member-member event that has Calcutta wagering in the thousands of dollars. He can shoot even par any day he wants, and usually does, and rakes in the member-member bonanza. He’s worse than a cheat. Sorry, Bails, but bag your idea. Each club should have a separate tournament handicap. Any time you play in a big event at your club, you play with a handicap based only on your previous big-event scores when you were forced to try, not scores (real or imaginary) that you punched into the computer from the Friday game when you were bagging sand madly like you-know-who.
Van Cynical, Is there anything more useless than NBC updating us on FedEx Cup standings after every hole -- in the second tournament of a four-tournament series? Can’t they update us after each breath the players take, too, or maybe after each Porta-John break? It’s almost like the commercial in which Bubba bites a doughnut and the geeks show his body weight increasing slightly. -- Phil via email
The FedEx Cup has successfully forced the top players to play at the end of the season, but its scoring system remains a common-sense disaster. After six years of ranting about it, I’m pretty much done. My suggestion to use cumulative scores against par for the four weeks (winners get a five-stroke bonus) has its drawbacks, too, but at least that way every player, fan and media chucklehead would be able to tell where everyone stood at all times without Steve Sands counting electoral votes in Florida and The Forbin Project computer updating the ever-changing standings -- which, by the way, are just going to reset for the last week, anyway. Short answer to your original question: No.