Van Cynical Mailbag: Is Olympic Golf Already a Total Goner?

June 30, 2016

AKRON, Ohio – Lots of questions about Olympic golf to cover, so let’s get right into the Van Cynical Mailbag.

Van Cynical, No surprise there that Jason Day is out [of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio]. Shane Lowry is out. Is Rickie Fowler next? Crime, corruption, disease, safety concerns, etc? No thank you.—John Hobbins via Twitter

I think a number of players are one bit of bad news from bailing, too. As dangerous as Zika is, Hobbitt Master, it may be only the third or fourth biggest reason to not go to Rio.

Hey Van Cynical, I shot a 72 on Sunday. Can I be in the Olympics?—Rick Fisher via Twitter

No, Fisheye. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t pass the drug test if you shot 72.

Hey Van Slicely, The men look utterly selfish and foolish.—Brian Rosenwald via Twitter

I disagree, Rosebud. This is simply putting family ahead of golf. The Zika threat may or may not be small, but it’s real and it’s serious. Golfers are the Olympic athletes most likely to be exposed to the disease-carrying mosquitoes since they spend the whole day outdoors walking through the grass and disturbing the areas where the mosquitoes habitate. It’s personal for each athlete, but I respect and agree with their decisions.

Hey Vantastic Fore, Is golf at the Olympics a big waste of time, given absence the top players? What do today’s top golfers do to promote the game?—PGCusack via Twitter

I would call it a big waste of time even if all the top players did show up. Athletes in most other sports train full-time to compete in the Olympics once every four years. Golfers already have major championships and big-money tournaments to play every year. The Olympics seem unnecessary. As for promoting the game, TV does that for the players. All they have to do is smile once in a while, look like they’re having fun and create fine TV drama.

Hey Van Cynical, Gary Player at the Olympics?—Sanjay Iver via Twitter

I’ve heard worse ideas. He’d be the biggest name in the golf tournament and he’d be the most enthused to be there. Not all bad. The Olympics should have a couple of sponsor’s exemptions to hand out so they could invite him.

Van Conical, As I recall, it was golf administrators, not current players, who pushed to have golf in the Olympics. I am zero percent surprised (by the withdrawals).—Mike Ryan via Twitter

You are correct, Von Ryan’s Express. Olympic golf turned into a PGA Tour production whose goal was to grow the game around the world. I wouldn’t say tennis has grown since it joined the Olympics, nor has pole vaulting. But yes, this was not a players-driven idea. If it was, there would be appearance money. Plus a Mercedes SUV.

Hey Garyiatric, Nobody cares about Olympic golf except Golf Channel and NBC. Talk about the majors.—Tim FitzGerald via Twitter

Olympic golf might’ve been more relevant if the medal-winners were also award spots in all four major championships the following year. That might’ve given it a cool factor. Nah, you’re right, only NBC and Golf Channel would still talk about it.

Hey Van Cynical, Olympic golf is the biggest potential fizzer since…?—Jarod Hitchcock via Twitter

Seahawks vs. Broncos. What a letdown.

Hey Vans, I mostly hope all the names pull out. Golf doesn’t belong in the Olympics.—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

I agree with the latter, Drakonian. I’m fine with anyone who wants to show up, though.

Sickle Van, What further info is required about the Olympics? Jordan Spieth is a goner. Let’s send our top NCAA players. They’d give anything to rep USA in Rio.—John Barleycorn via Twitter

Nice idea, Corny, but the IOC is in this for the money from TV ratings. No amateur golfers are going to draw viewers. And if Olympic golf was all amateurs, golf would never have gotten into the Games.

Van Cynical, Will Jason Day defend his Canadian Open title between the British Open and the PGA?—David Troyan via Twitter

Yes. Day will take on Glen Abbey this summer. At this time. All Canadian train schedules are subject to change, people.

Hey eVancipated, Who’s better in the broadcast booth—Tiger Woods or Lanny Wadkins?—Dave Conlon via Twitter

As Tiger would say, D.C., he needs more reps. But I was impressed with how engaging he was when he talked, even though he didn’t get very deep into any topics. He has surprising potential. I’ll go with Lanny as the right answer, because he’s got that been-there done-that attitude, as he should, and he is far more polished.

Van Sickley, Is it just me or are there 20-some young pros trying to be Dustin Johnson lookalikes? My wife and I have both noticed this.—Phlorida Phil via email

He does have that almost-a-beard thing down, and it’s a popular look on Tour. I blame Frank Nobilo for starting that scruffy pirate look when we discovered him in contention at Oakmont in the ’94 Open. Still looks good on him, too.

Van Cynical, Lydia Ko has 13 wins at age 19. Think she can shoot her age and reach 20 before she turns 21?—Christopher Laevey via Twitter

The easy answer is yes, Larvae Lamp, but the competition level is higher than you think on the LPGA. Seven more wins in two years? Wait, what am I thinking? Yeah, the real answer is also yes.

Hey Van Cynical, Re: Your 9 golf improvements, make the hole six inches in diameter. I’d drop 14 strokes from my handicap overnight.—Dave Conlon via Twitter

You only think you would, Condo Man. Or is your putting really that horrific? You want to feel depressed, miss a putt to a six-inch cup. It’s even less fun than regular golf.