HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- What's in your garage?
Smylie Kaufman sheepishly told a national TV audience watching the Masters that he was still driving a 2008 Nissan Murano. So, no surprise, Nissan announced that it had a 2016 Murano waiting for him with his name on it, no matter how the Masters turned out. I’m sure there may be a few strings attached, like putting a Nissan logo somewhere, but I like Nissan’s reaction time. It only would’ve been better if Smylie had won the Masters.
In a similar vein, I’d like to note that my garage features a 2004 Toyota Camry with 94k miles, a 2010 Camry with 57k miles while my son, Mike, who has a Web.com Tour card, is pushing a red 2011 Camry (featured in a Sports Illustrated photo spread and story last year) with 130k miles.
Send me your sad old car story and maybe some automaker will feel sorry for you, too… though I guess we should’ve played in the Masters first.
Enough fantasy stuff. On to the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Hey Van Cynical, HHI (Hilton Head Island) is my favorite regular PGA Tour stop. Just about zero tension. How do you think Bryson DeSameShaft will perform there? — Dave Conlon via Twitter
I am very impressed with Mr. DeChambeau in all areas, Con Man. You don’t fluke your way to low amateur in a tough Masters as opposed to the U.S. Amateur, where you might be able to fluke your way to a title thanks to the luck of match play. DeChambeau looks Tour ready to me. The only question is whether he can win enough money on seven sponsor's exemptions to get a temporary membership. He’ll get there, though. I’ve got him down for a top-12 finish this week. Can you get odds on that in Vegas? I dunno.
Hey Vans, Given what we saw last week, what does Jordan Spieth need to improve the most in order to contend at Oakmont? — David Troyan via Twitter
His scheduling. Chasing appearance money across the Pacific meant he never had a decent off-season. He should’ve taken late February and early March off. Or he should’ve skipped the Match Play and Shell Houston Open, but since they were in his home state of Texas he had too much respect to do that. I think most of his mistakes were mental fatigue-related, especially in the short-game area. That said, I’m sure he’ll be rested for Oakmont. Driving it straighter is a must there. The rough will be stupid-hard, you can count on it.
Van Cynical, Who will throw away more majors on the greens by the end of their careers—Rory, Dustin Johnson or Phil? And at what point did Rory change from being the next Tiger to being the next Phil? — Bud via Twitter
That’s harsh, Bud Light. I don’t necessarily agree that Phil lost a lot of majors with his putter (the Bethpage and Shinnecock Opens, maybe) but I do agree that Rory and DJ don’t look like they can handle firm, fast, big-breaking greens like Augusta National and some others. Since Rory has already won four majors, clearly his putting isn’t holding him back too much. So I guess DJ is the answer you wanted. As for Rory, he’s about to turn 27 and it’s way, way, way too soon to write him off just because he’s enduring a downturn. It’s hard to be the next Phil with four majors at 27 when Phil didn’t get his first one until he was 34.
Vans, Lydia Ko hit a tee shot for Danny Lee during the par-3 contest. How do you think she would play the 12th? — David Troyan via Twitter
She wouldn’t make a 7 in the final round, I guarantee that. Stock 6-iron to 20 feet, two putts, move on.
Hey Van McCheesehead, Is Steve Stricker too nice to be a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup captain? — Mr. Fairway via Twitter
Apparently not, Lawn Maintenance Guy, because he’s already got the job. Did you mean, Is he too nice to be a good captain? Well, I admit that I’m a bit surprised that low-key Steve was willing to get out of his fame-shy comfort zone to captain the Prez Cup. That said, these team events are all about putting and not many players know more about that than Strick. Everybody loves Steve so this is going to be a fun PC team to make if you’re a player.
Hey Sick Man, Please speculate as to the nature and intensity of trash talking in the sport of curling. — Brian Bailey via Twitter
I appreciate the non-golf question, Bailing Wire, but I don’t have to speculate. I once covered a crucial curling match during my days as a Milwaukee Journal sportswriter and learned the ends and outs of the game. (One of those is a curling term!) Since this sport is usually played by Canadians, Midwesterners and Montanans, the trash talking is weak, like, “Hey, make sure you don’t spill your coffee!... Your mother knits scarves!... Your mother eats yellow snow… Hey, you know the difference between a curling broom and an armoire? An armoire burns longer!... Miss it Noonan… Icy spicy… You found Waldo yet or what?... Hey, you know the difference between St. Paul and Minneapolis? Minneapolis burns longer!... Whaddaya mean I already used that one?"
Van Cynical, The flowing robes, the grace, bald, striking! Maybe Carl Spackler was talking about you on a Sunday morning. — Tad Lehmann
I seriously doubt that, Tad Sack. I’m only bald on the top of my head. I can grow hair around my ears like crazy. But I do tip like a Lama.
Hey Sickmeister, Random trivia: Tiger was runner up (T-2, 2nd) at both of Trevor Immelman’s PGA Tour wins. — Sam Itches via Twitter
I’m not sure this was for the VCM (Van Cynical Mailbag, as insiders know it) but this piece of Trevor esoterica is too good not to pass on. Thanks, Itchy Brother.