SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A tip of the green visor goes to Phil Mickelson, who correctly called the Seahawks over the Broncos in the Super Bowl after he finished his Sunday round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Lefty, who held off making a public pick until a few hours before the game, said that great defense usually beats great offense. Next year, he should start a football picks hot line. Sign me up. Phil, do you pick stocks, too?…
I hit some balls on the practice range at Arizona State University’s Karsten Course last week, which is always a cool look because you’re launching them out toward the football stadium in the distance. Karsten is apparently destined to join my list of courses I’ve played that no longer exist. ASU is reportedly going to shut it down and use the land for university expansion in a few years.
Meanwhile, there’s a proposal for a nonprofit ASU foundation to take over the financially troubled Papago municipal course, one of the country’s better public tracts. The ASU foundation would build a clubhouse and the men’s and women’s teams would be based there, while still selling a majority of the tee times to the general public. I’d count up how many courses I’ve played that are no longer there but the list is getting scary long. I’m pretty sure it’s into double figures. What’s your favorite vanished course?... .
Good luck if you’re planning to attend next year’s Super Bowl, which Phoenix will host on the same weekend as the Phoenix Open. I’ve already scoured the Internet and it appears as if most of the city’s hotel rooms have already been blocked out. Which means when they are made available, if ever, they’re going to be at arm-and-a-leg rates. I’ve got my reservation secured. Sorry, you’re on your own. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and we’re all wearing Milk Bone underwear….
Let’s check the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Van Sickle, Will the Masters pair the Stadlers? --Perry Dotson
Excellent question, P-Dotty. It’s a possibility and would seem like a nice story now that Kevin has qualified to play in his first Masters. His dad, ex-Masters champ Craig, said he was going to retire from playing the Masters once his son made it, so this will be his last one. Masters officials will probably avoid the appearance of playing favorites and not put them in the same threesome. I could see Craig Stadler teeing off in the group just behind Kevin, though, which would be the next best thing.
Vans, With the huge attendance in Phoenix, should the PGA Tour take notice and change some things to make golf more exciting? --S Cracer via Twitter
If the Phoenix Open model was easy to copy, other tournaments would have done so long ago. It costs a small fortune to build grandstands all the way around a par-3 hole and it takes a hell of a sales staff to sell all those luxury suites. As for attracting crowds above 80,000 or 100,000, most tournaments can’t put that many people on their courses, much less find parking for a third of them. Any realistic ideas to spice up pro golf would be welcome. Not including animal costumes.
Cynical, Now that Tiger has missed the cut at Torrey Pines and tied for 41st at Dubai, is he the prohibitive favorite for the Masters? --Dan O’Neill
Well, it’s not Kevin Stadler. You know how gambling works, DanO. Bookies don’t try to predict the outcome, they try to set a point spread so people bet equally on both teams. It’s all about perception. Chances are, Tiger will still be seen as the favorite because he’ll still be holding the No. 1 ranking in golf. Plus he’s won four Masters. Doesn’t mean he’ll win. Doesn’t mean he won’t.
Vans, Would Bubba benefit from a month or two with Butch Harmon or another teacher? --Bob Ashley via Twitter
With all due respect to Butch (who’s the very best, in my opinion), Bubba is a natural wonder of the world. I don’t think you mess with success. Some short-game tips might not hurt, though.
Van Cynical, Should I return my Ryder Cup tickets? Moore, English, Walker, Kirk and Bohn are all top ten. Cue sign of the cross. --Chad Rucker via Twitter
The famous American players keep getting beat and they’re not getting any younger. Maybe it’s time for some new blood. Hang on to your tickets. September is a long time and a lot of Ryder Cup points away. Those standings will change… but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least two of those guys you named make the squad. They’re pretty good.
Gary, You think equipment companies are training golfers to wait for new driver purchases with these multiple new models and price drops? --HappyGolfPlug via Twitter
That and the free Snickers bar with each purchase, yes. Works for me.
Sickle, Did Bubba blame the read on his caddie again?! --Jon Hardy via Twitter
Not necessarily. He was merely expressing his surprise at the break. You know how Tour pros love to act out over a miss to prove it’s not their fault. It was the damn gravity again. That bitch.
Van Cynical, Who is Kevin Stadler’s caddie? Brother? --Louis Kitsko via Twitter
No relation. He’s an Aussie named Shannon Wallis. Big fella. They make a Dynamic Duo.
Vans, The problem with Bubba Watson is that he can’t putt. He has the longest game of everyone but those drives matter nil. --Clay Koenig via Twitter
Guess you missed the crucial par-saver at 15 and that 18-footer for birdie at 17 on Sunday when he absolutely had to have it, and a couple others. His chipping and pitching, though, are another topic. You’re right that golf is a game of scoring, not a game of long ball.