OAKMONT, Pa.—It's nearly U.S. Open eve. There's just enough time to field some Open-related queries. On to the Van Cynical Mailbag…
VanShank, what's the strategy on No. 17? Hit the chicken stick or blast away and hope the golf gods smile on thee?—Kevin Montminy
Blast away, IgnoMinyus. I was out there today and the USGA oddly chopped the rough down to a remarkably low heighth, at least on the back nine. Where Jim Furyk couldn’t get a pitch on the green from left of 17 in ’07, it’s short enough to barely ruffle your nerve. There’s a little fescue way left but it’s thinnish. Absolutely nothing to fear but fear itself. And, of course, the all-powerful Zeus.
Hey Van Cynical, Does a tough examination equal finding the best player? And is the Oakmont example actually good for golf?—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter
Check the list of Oakmont Open winners and you’ve got your answer. Nicklaus. Hogan. Miller. Els. Armour. Pretty stout. But should any sane golf course grow deep rough, put ski slopes on the greens and get them to 14 on the Stimpmemer? No. Somehow, it works at Oakmont. With expert caddies, the members are able to maintain a great pace of play. Maybe great caddies, not just teenaged bag-toters, are the real solution to slow play.
Hey Van Cynical, I hear the squirrels at Oakmont are meaner than a golf writer after a five-hour flight with no Nicorette gum. True?—Steve Elling via Twitter
I think you probably mean Mike Nicolette gum, Old Yeller. It’s what all the former tour pros chew. As for the squirrels at Oakmont, what squirrels? There aren’t any trees left to live in. Squirrels are to Oakmont what dodo birds are to Anywhere.
Hey, Mailbag If you could be one of the trees removed at Oakmont, what kind of tree would you be?—Steve Elling via Twitter
Hey Van Cynical, How's Mike (Van Sickle) hitting it?—Alan Shipnuck via Twitter
Nice. Opened Wednesday’s practice round on the back nine by jarring it from fairway at 10 and narrowly missing ace at 11, which he noted on Twitter, Shipmate. His quote: “Not today!!” Gotta save those. But he’s ready, if anyone can ever be ready for Oakmont. Rough was cut Wednesday night, sharply down, and greens kind of receptive Wednesday. There will be some low scores Thursday, pending hellacious downpours.
Sickle, Did Mike get a skin?—Brian Bailey via Twitter
The day’s not over yet, Bailjumper. I like his chances. You don’t see a lot of aces at No. 10 anymore. He’d rather get a major endorsement, though.
Sickle sale, What were the politics behind Bethpage hooking up with PGA of America? Ryder Cup money or something else?—MidnightRiderCowboy via Twitter
Politics? Did Donald Trump already put up a wall around Bethpage? Oh. I don’t know any details but I bet former PGA head Ted Bishop does. Let’s read his new book, “Unfriended,” and see if it’s in there.
Hey G-Van, Where's Tiger? Rosey said he was going to be back weeks ago.... #steineynotellthetruth—BSP via Twitter
Chill, Big Sandy Putter. I think Mr. Rosaforte wrote something like, Don’t be surprised if Tiger plays at the Wells Fargo tourney, not, Hey, Tiger’s definitely playing. OK, so we weren’t surprised. And we keep being not surprised every week. I doubt if Tiger knows when he’s coming back. He may be hoping but he doesn’t know.
Hey Van Oakmont, I've always wondered, G-man, how golfers keep all their white pants so white. What are their laundry secrets?—Len Hochberg via Twitter
Those Euros really love their white slacks, don’t they? I’m going to say the secret lies in spray paint, Mr. Clean and breaking out a brand new pair every round, the way Jumbo Ozaki used to wear each of those fancy shirts just once.