The great thing about Honda Classic week is that there is never anything meaningful to ruminate on, allowing me to do some long-overdue housekeeping of my inbox. Sifting through weeks' worth of e-mails, I was overcome by the outpouring of love from so many readers. Scott Gamache of Boca Raton, Fla, sent this valentine: "No question, just a statement: you are full of sh--." Hey, Scott, back atcha!
In reference to my bold Match Play Championship predictions, Mike Moya of Lafayette, Ind., writes, "You forgot to add your bracket picks under the 'Not' heading ... Whew, stinky."
Thankfully, there was some substantive discourse among all the mean-spirited drivel. Roman of Washington, D.C., sent me a 650-word opus comparing the careers of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, ending with this perky salutation: "Anyway, just food for thought!" Dude, that's more food for thought than even Tim Herron could handle.
In reference to my recent question as to whether Trevor Immelman is now the best South African golfer, Toledo, Ohio's Mark Barnes writes, "Uh, until Trevor Immelman wins about 50 more times, Ernie Els is the best player from South Africa. Alan, are you drunk? C'mon."
Here's the thing: Els is the best player emeritus, but he hasn't cracked an egg in about two years. Who's more likely to win this week, or next, or the week after that? I say Immelman. Patrolling the intimate range at the Match Play, Immelman's ball-striking sounded sweeter than anybody else's.
Peter Hall of Newtown, Pa., took issue with my recent jab at the Americans' weak showing at the Match Play, writing, "Mr. Shipnuck," -- let's pause for a moment to appreciate this rare showing of decorum -- "All of the Who's Hot columns by you and your colleagues are, by definition, pretty stupid." -- OK, so much for decorum -- "I understand you need something to write about and you're bored, and that's fine. But I actually got curious about this one when you said that American golf is not hot. I checked the latest world rankings, and did you know that of the top 25 players, 32 percent are American, and the top three are American? I may be a dope, but that doesn't suck. Are they less than stellar in match play? Sure, but does anyone really care? It's a gimmick tournament. When the tour starts playing match play events every week, then talk to me. I mean, would I like to see more Americans in the top 25? Sure, but 32 percent is pretty good against the rest of the planet. And we both know, for better or worse, it's all about the majors. Thanks for your time."
Since Petey did some actual research -- something I rarely do -- I will resist any snarky comments. I will also not make any references to the Ryder Cup or note that among the top 50 in the World Rankings there is exactly one American under the age of 30 -- Charles Howell -- which foreshadows dark days ahead for American golf.
Among the most amusing e-mails I get are from disgruntled readers who obviously have no one else with which to share their heartbreak. Dave Robertson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, sent only the following sentence: "I still can't believe he missed that 4-foot putt." Meanwhile, Briar Andresen of Minneapolis writes, "Oh, the humanity! Furyk loses to Campbell. Ruinous. $20 down the drain."
I'm happy I can be here for these lost, lonely souls, but I think it would be healthier for all of us if they had someone more tangible they could talk to in times of despair. Someone compassionate and mothering, who can help them weather life's travail. Guys, call Peter Kessler next time.
Here at SI.com, I'm also on the front lines of the English language, a down-market Safire with a smoother putting stroke. In the span of a couple of days I got the following e-mails:
Efrain Gonzales of San Antonio: "What is with Alan and Phil? Sounds like a real man-crush." Meanwhile, frequent pen pal Rick Lawson of Cordele, Ga.: "L.A. Open not hot?! What are you talking about? Please get off your man-crush with Tiger for one week." Prior to these e-mails I had never seen the term "man-crush" in print. Nor do I hope to ever again!
Personally, I more of a woman-crush kind of guy. You may recall that last year I had a little thing for LPGA cutie Erica Blasberg, but only in a professional sense. Anyway, Chase Callahan of Irvine, Calif., writes, "Alan, I have enjoyed reading about your thoughts on my client Erica Blasberg and would love to speak to you about the possibility of you doing an article on her upcoming season and what she has going on in her career currently. Thanks."
Now if only Cameron Diaz's agent read SI.com
Senior writer Alan Shipnuck has covered golf for Sports Illustrated since 1994 and frequently contributes to SI.com.