AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s not easy staying cynical in the land of magnolias and azaleas, but it can be done.
I was just chatting moments ago with Dan Jenkins, a sportswriting legend who sits in the row behind me in the pressroom and, in fact, annually takes part in my season-long NFL pool, officially known as The Stupid Pool. He leads the pool’s career money list, in fact, much to our amazement and annoyance. That’s the thing about sports pools. Nobody else is happy for your success.
Anyway, I asked him if this was his 65th Masters and he said, no, 66th. Then he said he talked to Jack Nicklaus the other day here and asked Jack how many Masters he’s been to. “Fifty-nine,” Jack said. Jenkins replied, “You’re seven down.”
Nicklaus blinked and said, “What?!” Added Jenkins, “He couldn’t believe it.”
I told Jenkins, “There’s a record that will never be broken.”And it won’t be.
I am a mere beginner at my 35th Masters. Anyway, as threatened, here comes your Masters edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Van Man, Imagine Augusta ringer Jefferson Knox plays 30 Tour events next year. How many cuts does he make? — Matt Newman via Twitter
Three. Without his local Augusta National knowledge, Newsboy, which includes his daily pin-setting duties, his lack of length off the tee limits the number of courses he can compete on with his putting super-powers. He is a heck of a player for a 53-year-old amateur.
Hey Van Cynical, Is there a Masters Media Center Meal Plan? Pimento Cheese Sandwiches for Everyone? — Chuck Garbedian via Twitter
There is a pile of sandwiches in the dining area behind the pressroom, Chugarb, and a bunch of them have your name on them: Cheese.
Van Root Canal, Jack Nicklaus finished the majors with 18 wins and 19 seconds (37). I don’t think anyone will ever break that. What say you? — John Sinclair via Twitter
Tiger Woods was the best player we ever saw and he got to 14 wins, pretty amazing. Jack’s runner-up record is even more unassailable than his wins. Jack and DiMaggio’s marks are on ice. Won’t happen. At least not until robots start playing golf. So that’s another five years away.
Hey VanHosel, How much time will the newbies spend on the course this week trying to cram for their Masters exam? — Kevin Montminy via Twitter
Too much. They will play the par 3, too, and be too tired come Thursday. I can’t blame them, though. Who wouldn’t want to tread on every square inch of sacred ground if they had the chance. Rory is skipping the par 3 this week. Make a note.
Hey Vans, if Bryson DeChambeau wins does it surpass Ouimet for greatest amateur victory ever? If Rory/Day/Spieth win = true world No1? — Christof Appel via Twitter
A win by DeChambeau would seem bigger because the media attention is far greater now, AppMan, but Ouimet’s win changed the world’s view of golf to include America. Not much can top that. On second item, a win by Day pushes him farther ahead, but I’m not sure we can have a true No. 1 for a while. Too bunched.
Sickmania, I’m re-watching the final round of 86 Masters and noticed a lack of logos on golfer’s hats, bags, clothes. Very odd. — David Troyan via Twitter
Spoiler alert! Greg Norman wins in a playoff.
Hey Van Cynical, Is David Duval sporting the first mohawk ever allowed on the grounds of Augusta? — Brian Bailey via Twitter
I don’t think so, Bailsafe. Did a gust of wind muss his ‘do temporarily or something? David is not ‘hawking’ it.
Hey Vanslashes a lot, I’m pulling for Rickie this week but it would be interesting to see Japan’s reaction if Matsuyama were to win. — David Troyan via Twitter
Matsuyama would never have to pay for sushi again in his home country, Troybox.
Hey McSickle, Who are you picking this week? Your bobbing-head doll Tiger named Adam Scott in your video. Are you down with that? — Klaugh56 via Twitter
Beam him up, Scotty. Adam is a good choice, Laugh-In. So is Jason Day. A wild card this week may be threat of strong winds on weekend. I’ve been picking Phil Mickelson for a while and it’s hard to go wrong with Bubba Watson. I just have a feeling about Phil. Of course, I just had a feeling about Xavier in the NCAA basketball tournament, too, and we know how that worked out. I finished about 72nd in my own pool. There’s no wagering at Bushwood, of course.
Hey Vans, What the hec are you doing in the press room? Go take some selfies on the first tee.. — Brian Bailey via Twitter
No, thanks, Bailing wire. I’d sooner finger-barf.