The Florida Swing is here, and so is a new edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag. As always, thanks for asking…
Hey Dr. VanSlicealot, What's the story on those reports that Tiger's back is so bad he can't even sit in a car and he may be done? Any truth?—KirbMyEnthusiasm via email
Tiger's camp says absolutely not. Of course, Tiger has been less than truthful about a lot of things, especially when it comes to injuries. Tiger could easily refute the reports by appearing somewhere in public but he hasn’t done that so-oooo…. The stories came from an unattributed anonymous source. Instead of presenting facts to shoot down the report, Camp Tiger chose to chide and bully the media (per usual). So who knows what the truth is? But there are no comments from anyone indicating his recovery is going great. I have no actual facts, so what kind of shape is Tiger actually in? I don’t know. The man knows how to keep his wagons circled.
Hey Vance No-Pants Cynical, What happens if Tiger can’t play the Masters?—DeCinces898 via email
Columnists and golf typists spend Tuesday and Wednesday during Masters week agozining, speculating and waxing poetic about the Decline And Fall Of Tiger. Then the first tee shot is struck Thursday morning and Tiger is as forgotten as Ralph Stonehouse, the man who hit the first-ever Masters tee shot. He’s a non-story after Thursday. Tiger, I mean—not Stonehouse.
VanLooper, with Tiger still on the disabled list, why doesn't Joe LaCava grab a temporary bag like Mike (Fluff) Cowan has?—Kevin Montminy via Twitter
Taking another bag, even temporarily, would be a sign of disloyalty punishable by lifetime banishment from Tiger World, Montbatten. What precipitated the demise of Stevie Williams in the caddie job? Stevie working for Adam Scott in two majors when Tiger was sidelined. So Joe is being a faithful team guy until he hears go or no-go from Tiger. Smart move on his part.
Hey Van Cynical, Which tour player would make the best Bond villain?—Brian Bailey via Twiter
First choice, Briny, is Steven Bowditch. He’s got the supervillain eyebrows. “Do you expect me to talk, Bowditch?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” Second choice: K.J. Choi with the right tux and a bowler might be able to pass for Odd Job. I think he’s definitely got the arm for it. Third choice: Any player you put an eye-patch on. Tim Herron. Billy Horschel. Kyle Stanley. Your nominees?
Hey Van Snackmeister, What's the best length of nap while watching the Florida swing? Any other PGA Tour napping tips?—Adam Clayman via Twitter
One week, Clayton Powell. Just make sure it’s the week during the Cadillac Championship at Doral. Unless you really want to see Donald Trump in his casual baseball cap attire, then try to stay away. Honda usually has some exciting splashdowns, Valspar had the non-major finish of the year in 2015 with Jordan Spieth edging Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair in a playoff. Bay Hill, eh, you never know. Doral’s Blue Monster, as a playable resort course, has pretty much been ruined. Sorry, Don.
Hey Van Cynical, Why do the TV commentators fuss about the Bear Trap, which was golf course marketing, and not created by competition? #NoAmenCorner—Paul Emerson via Twitter
Hang on there, Ralph Waldo—are you telling me you’re shocked that a TV network would hype one of its own entertainment shows? The Bear Trap is a mess, a perfect example of bad modern golf design--a stretch of golf holes designed to be unplayable in the wind which, oh yeah, it’s usually windy in south Florida. It only got worse when they put up that hokey bear statue. At least when fans see that, they’re more careful about dropping lit matches. I am on the same page with you, Ralph Waldo. I am not a fan.
Van Sicklenator, Riviera is such an iconic course and players rave about it. How come it doesn’t host majors?—Kit Duncan via Twitter
There’s no room for anything. No corporate tents, no parking and on a lot of the course (not including the amphitheater 18th green), not enough room for spectators. Plus, given the LA traffic situation, the only way to get to Riviera during rush hour is to be born there. I believe the challenging LA traffic is the main reason the Northern Trust Open, just like that ’95 PGA, doesn’t draw well. It takes all day to park, wait in line for a shuttle bus, get to the course, get back in line for the bus and try to drive home. You gotta really like golf.
Hey Van Cynical, Who’s the PGA Tour Player of the Year so far on the planet Blothar?—Muff19 via email
Ever since Gary McCord retired from Blothar golf once his energy plume dropped to a dangerously low level, Blothar’s top player remains, for the third straight snoxen, Ur Alxen, the former spaceshifter originally from Ganymede who migrated through the vortex eye and worked as a leviathan tech before switching to the Interdimensiona Golf Tour. His short game is impressive, probably due to his third arm.