#AskAlan: Who is the most universally liked player on the PGA Tour?

June 5, 2017

Ugh, I always find Memphis to be the most painful week of the year. After the Memorial, why can’t we just proceed directly to the U.S. Open? To fill the void, I humbly submit this week’s #AskAlan.

“I’m curious how calculated this is — did Phil play Erin Hills and not like it?” [email protected]
He’s never seen the place. And it’s not calculated at all — sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one, and dude just really doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s commencement speech. But Phil has not entirely given up hope: I had a text volley with Bones on Sunday and he’s going to Erin Hills to scout the course and be ready in case Amanda Mickelson’s high school makes some kind of accommodation or she forces her dad to play or some other unforeseen event allows Phil to make it to Erin Hills in time.
“Winning score at Erin Hills?” [email protected]
Three under. Though Phil will have shot five under…in his mind.
“We are in the midst of a changing of the guard. Project to 2020: Who are your Big Four?” -David (@DStan58)

Spieth, Rahm, Pieters, Dustin.
“How does Rahm hit it so far with driver when he only takes it back as far as I take my 60-degree?” [email protected]
Never, ever underestimate the power of paella. Not to mention thighs that are thick as redwood trunks and perfect technique at impact.
“Who wins a major first, Rickie or Rahm?”-Ryan (@therealsnee)
Rickie. You gotta lose a few before you can win one. (Don’t @ me.)
“Can you compare nine senior majors (Langer) to eighteen regular majors (Jack)?” [email protected]

“If heat index is forecasted over 100, should pros be allowed to wear shorts?” -Kevin (@CaddieKev)
No. Why? Three words: Colt Knost’s legs.

“Who is the one player playing full-time minus Phil who is universally respected and liked?” -JeremyBenson75
Well, there is certainly a cult of Phil, but I wouldn’t say he’s universally liked. The easy answer in the past to this question was Steve Stricker but he’s not playing full-time anymore, so I’m going with Fowler. The young guys on Tour love his swag and respect his hustle, the old guys appreciate that he always does the right thing, the WAGs adore his aw-shucks charm and tournament directors and Tour bureaucrats are deeply grateful that he always gives extra time to sponsors and fans.
“What makes a great 9-hole course?” [email protected]
A lack of ambition. I’ve played plenty of mediocre 18-hole courses and thought they’d be better off as 9-holers; just use the best available terrain, let the design breathe and come up with nine great holes instead of cramming in a mix of good and bad ones. Plus, with work/travel/kids/life, I’m much more likely to have a two-hour window for golf than 4-plus. Walking off an 18-hole course midway-through feels like premature evacuation. But with a good 9-holer you get in and get out and still feel satisfied. And, if the mood strikes, you can always go around again.
“Jason Dufner at Erin Hills — will he be able to carry the success or it won’t fit his eye? #askalan” -Paul (@prutkowki)
The Duf is such a fairways-and-greens maestro the Open is perfect for him, so it’s no surprise he’s been top-eight in three of the last six. But Erin Hills is a different kettle of fish because it’s the rare Open venue to have four par-5s. Dufner is relatively short off the tee, so this isn’t the ideal setup for him. I expect a strong finish but it’ll be tough to win giving up so much on the 3-shotters to the DJs of the world.
“Who is Duf’s new gal? Is she as hot as his ex? #ImportantStuff” –Daniel (@68shooter)
Yes, golf fans all over the globe still pine for the lovely former Mrs. Dufner, but I had a long chat at Augusta with his new girlfriend and she’s quite funny and saucy and much more down-to-earth than her predecessor. No doubt she’s played an important part in his renaissance.

“When is the next Knockdown Presents story and can I please write it? #AskAlan” -Ben (@shortenbj)
I like to drop one of these stories every few weeks. You’re certainly in the running, Ben, as are the dozens of others who emailed me last week. I’m gonna respond to all these queries today or tomorrow, I swear. I would’ve gotten to it sooner but I had to attend my daughter’s graduation.