Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here comes this week’s Van Cynical Mailbag:
Van Cynical, What’s going to be the final score of the President’s Cup. U.S. 77 ½, Jason Day 2 1/2 seems like a legit score, right? -- Brian Bailey via Twitter
Wow, who’s the cynical one here? Yeow. Give the International team some credit. I’ve never bought the excuses that they’re outmanned and don’t have enough depth. You’re talking teams that have featured Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Nick Price, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Stuart Appleby, Craig Parry, Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, Louis Oosthuizen, K.J. Choi and plenty of other top-notch sticks. I’ve been puzzled why they have repeatedly underperformed. This is the International team’s Ryder Cup, their chance on the big stage, and they haven’t risen to the occasion. The Americans probably have an edge because they play a team match-play event every year. Using that logic, of course, the Americans should do better in the Ryder Cup. But Europe has been fielding a better team for the last decade. I do not expect a blowout win: U.S. 16, Internationals 14.
Is the Presidents Cup just a scrimmage before the Ryder Cup next year for the American squad? It feels like Baylor-Rice... -- Zach via Twitter
Zach Attack, it wasn’t that long ago that Baylor wasn’t much better than Rice and that game was a virtual Doormat Bowl. Same for Oregon and Oregon State. Change is good in college football. I get what you’re saying and I don’t disagree except for the word scrimmage. In soccer terms, maybe it’s a “friendly.” While the Prez Cup has lacked significance—my suggestion to make it a qualifier for the Ryder Cup continues to gain no traction--it has always been a good show. Team match-play is the most compelling form of televised golf. Let’s hope this one is close.
Hey Sick Man, How can the Tour allow for a system that leaves off a guy (Brooks Koepka) with a higher world golf ranking than seven members on the team? -- Brian Rosenwald via Twitter
That problem is easily solved, BriRo, by the captain adding him to the team as a wild-card selection instead of, say, a lower-ranked Phil Mickelson. We’ve got two issues in play here, Rosey. One is the flaws in the world rankings. I have flogged them repeatedly. The second is the flaw in the points selection system. There is no perfect method or ranking to pick a team. That’s why the captain gets two extra choices. If Koepka hadn’t missed the cut in the first two FedEx Cup events right before the selection deadline, perhaps he would have made the team.
Hey, Sicktastic, who will be the man of the matches in the Presidents Cup? -- Michael Cummings via Twitter
I’ll assume you mean other than the obvious choices, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. I’ll just say this, MC Hammer: Beware India’s Anirban Lahiri. You haven’t heard of him but he can play.
Van Cynical, Is there a more overrated position in sports than Presidents/Ryder Cup captain? -- Lionel Mandrake via Twitter
Yes. Major League Baseball Commissioner. Every time there’s been a big issue—strike, steroids, player’s rights—he’s always missing in action.
Hey Van Cynical, Is Pebble Beach pro-am now a boutique stop? It used to be the season opener in my eyes. -- David Troyan via Twitter
You’ve gotta change with the times, Boy-Troy. The old Crosby used to feel like the start of the season because the frostbacks in the Midwest (like me) got the first taste of real golf and green grass and ocean spray. This wraparound season is a new animal. The new year may officially kick off with Monday qualifying next week for the Frys.com Open. I’m looking forward to asking players what they did during the offseason and getting answers like, “I barely had time to repack my luggage!” Also, the pros dislike the slow rounds with the am partners, often the course isn’t in prime condition yet and then there’s the weather.
Hey Vans, Are you vexed at the amount of publicity Jessica Marksbury is getting? You played in US Open qualifiers with pros. -- BigMark via Twitter
I wished she’d gotten more. I could see a Golf Channel miniseries! I liked how Jessica, who failed to reach match play, wrote about her 12 in the second round and went through it shot by shot with all the thoughts in her head. Every golfer can relate to that nightmare moment. She makes a par on that par 5 instead of 12 and she shoots 79, a good score. I wrote about my U.S. Open qualifying adventures a few decades ago and my U.S. Senior Am rounds last year. Hey, it’s amateur golf, it’s fun and most people enjoy living vicariously if you bring them your story, like Jessica did. Like Tin Cup, she owned her 12 and gave us a peek inside the mind of a golf competitor. I enjoyed her heartfelt story.
Van Cynical, Rate the multiple-major seasons. -- Floyd Harris via Twitter
Bobby Jones stands alone in a different class of four majors. Then you have Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods with three each. Hogan couldn’t make it back by ship after the British in time for the ’53 PGA and Tiger in 2000 went on to create the Tiger slam with a fourth in a row the following year. After that, four more stand out to me because they were legit almost-Grand Slams. Spieth this year, contending until the final hole, more or less, in all four majors; Jack Nicklaus in ’72 when he snagged the first two and then was stunned by Lee Trevino’s chip-in at Muirfield; Tiger in 2002 when he won the first two and, I believed, was going to win Muirfield, too, until that freak storm blew in just before he teed off in the third round; and Arnold Palmer in 1960 after he won the first two majors and was edge by Kel Nagle at The Old Course. The rest bunch up behind those.
Sicklemania, We’re living in sensitive times. Is trying to keep my left arm straight offensive to the LGBT community? -- CapBozo via Twitter
No but my guess is that you might be.