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Van Cynical Mailbag: Where Will Tiger Be Ranked When He Returns?

Confidential: Who Has the Best Brand Potential?
According to Forbes' Fab 40, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson remain the top two brands in sports. Who of the young up-and-comers has the ability to build a brand just as valuable -- or moreso -- than the two greats?

This is the Day of Reckoning. As in, I reckon I'll answer a few more of your amazing golf-related questions in the Van Cynical Mailbag. Remember, to make sure fire never catches, Smokey's friends don't play with matches.

Let the cynicism begin:

Hey Van Cynical! What's the over/under on TW's world ranking when he finally plays again? 500? 1,000?—John Sinclair via Twitter

C’mon, Sinclair dinosaur, you’re not going to force me to calculate some heavy math with all those complicated World Golf Ranking points, are you? I don’t even know where I left my slide rule. Tiger ranks 321st in the world right now. Assuming he doesn’t play until Bay Hill in March (and who knows if that is realistic?), I’ll set 475 as the over/under number on his ranking then. But I’m no expert. I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Fill in your own Holiday Inn joke here, please.

VanPopsicle! I don’t like Spieth’s chances hanging with the Day/Rory type bombers over time depending on making 20-footers. You?—TNCowboy via Twitter

Surely you jest, Tennessee Ernie Ford. And stop calling me Shirley. The whole object of golf is getting the ball in the hole, not hitting it 350 yards. Spieth is the only man in history who’s ever gotten to 19 under at the Masters. Jason Day only beat him in the PGA by shooting the lowest score in major championship history because Spieth’s score was one off the previous PGA record. Spieth is no short-knocker—he’s better than medium-long and still working hard in the gym. Spieth’s ball-striking still has room to improve. When you’re the best putter, the best chipper, the best pitcher and the best bunker-player in the game, you’re not going anywhere but up. Day has been ultra-impressive for, oh, about two months. Spieth was on for all of 2015. I’ll stick with Spieth. But isn’t it going to be fun to see these three guys play it out?

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Hey, G-Unit, given the two W's from the Web.com Tour rooks, who are the breakout stars from the new PGA Tour season?—Bustinpar via Twitter

Glad you noticed Smylie Kaufman and Emiliano Grillo scored wins already. You get two smiley-face cookies for paying attention. I like Patton Kizzire, a late-blooming 29-year-old who dominated the Web.com Tour last year with two wins, two seconds and 12 top-10s. He won over $500k on that tour, which means he can play. Patrick Rodgers from Stanford is part of that Class of 2011 I’ve been writing about. He shares a house in Florida with Justin Thomas and he could be a star. Patrick Cantlay is still out there somewhere, and I liked what I saw of Andrew Loupe, a former LSU star who made a run at Frys.com Open. He’s a big hitter, he can go low and he’s got heart.

Hey, Von Schickelgruber, The Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush in '19. What U.S. course should hold our Open again after 50+ years?—Scott Fields via Twitter

It’s doubtful anyone will beat Shinnecock Hills for length of time between Opens hosted. It held the first Open in 1896, then made an encore 90 years later in 1986. Looking at the list of old Open sites, most of them have been obsoleted by modern equipment and the distance players hit it now and if not, they don’t have the huge infrastructure to host a modern Open with grandstands, TV towers, parking, roads, corporate tents. I am not familiar with every course on the list but I would vote for Philadelphia Cricket Club, which held the Open in 1907 and 1910. Technically, it wouldn’t be the same course. The Cricket Club used its St. Martins course for those two Opens, it’s now only a nine-hole track. The Cricket Club has two other 18-hole courses, however, and its Wissahickon Course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast, has been lovingly restored and is a man-eater. It’s hosted the PGA Club Pro championship last summer. I don’t know if The Open is realistic but with all the room the other course provides, it’s the best option among the old-timers.

Hey, Van Recyclable, I find the East Lake event boring...why not make the finals at TPC Scottsdale in prime time Monday - Thursday?—Tim Clancy via Twitter

Here’s why, Mr. Red October. The daily temperatures in Phoenix during this year’s Tour Championship were, in order, 104, 103, 105, 104. One thing the TPC Scottsdale doesn’t have much of is shade. East Lake might be more interesting if the nines were reversed and instead of finishing on a strong par 3, you finished on the ninth, a reachable par 5. That said, it’s not the course that makes the Tour Championship boring. It’s the 30-man field that feels like a company golf outing, not a pro tournament. The FedEx Cup might be more exciting if 120 guys still had a shot at the $10 million.

Hey, Moving Vans, What's the next big thing in golf technology?

Well, Polson Ale, the big moves aren’t in clubs, where limits are holding back clubmakers from truly innovating. The technology is all going into the teaching, analyzing and tracking side. There are cool tracking devices like Game Golf and Arccos Golf for analyzing your rounds shot-by-shot and all kinds of gizmos you can attach to your shaft or your glove to analyze your swing. Also, simulators are getting pretty realistic although I don’t know if anyone is ever going to get the putting part right. I expect someone to have a ball with a chip embedded that’s going to allow me to find where it ended up using my cell phone as a tracker—the end of lost balls, at least the ones that don’t go into water hazards.

Hey, Van Slickel, So Smylie wins a tournament. Who's next -- Grumpy, Sneezy or Doc?

I like Dopey if he’s got a good caddie, say Stevie Williams, and just does what the caddie says without over-thinking anything. Smelly made the Presidents Cup team, so he’s got game. I also wouldn’t count out Huey, Dewey and Louie; Smurfy; Keebler; Cookie Monster; Snagglepuss; Top Cat; Ruff or Ready; Astro; Mr. Greenjeans; and my least favorite dwarf, Barfy. Actually, I’m changing my mind, UnFairway. I’ll go with Doc. He can beat the tour’s drug-testing regimen.

Van Cynical, Roughly a year out, who do you predict will be on the respective Ryder Cup teams?—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

That’s early to call, L-Train, plus I’m working up a story on that topic for an upcoming web page. Let’s just say that if forced to wager, I’d predict that Tiger and Phil won’t make this team. I’m not sure on Furyk and Matt Kuchar. I see Spieth, Fowler, Bubba, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, J.B. Holmes, Patrick Rodgers, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed. After that, it’s potpourri for $200, Alex. I’m still looking at the European side.

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