#AskAlan: Are Spieth and JT the great rivalry we’ve been waiting for?

September 6, 2017

DJ! JT! Spieth! I have to say, the end of this season has been blast. Lots to talk about, as always…
“Can Thomas-Spieth be the great golf rivalry holy grail we’ve all been waiting for since Arnie-Jack after we tried to force with Tiger-Phil?” -Tej (@boatical)
It has potential, because they’re the same age, have a unique origin story and, especially, because they play the game very differently; that contrast makes for fascinating viewing. But a great rivalry needs a little edge—think of the galleries at Oakmont in 1962 heckling Fat Jack, and the lingering animosity that came with a cold, calculating upstart displacing the earthy, passionate King. If the Tiger and Phil rivalry worked at all it’s because both are so polarizing—fans love and hate ’em, and there is very little overlap. Spieth and Thomas are both warm, cuddly, likeable figures who don’t arouse much passion. In a real rivalry you have a strong rooting interest against one side, and it’s hard to pull against either of these characters. So it’s going to be a blast to watch them compete but I’m not sure how juicy the quote-unquote rivalry will get.
“Wild Monday finish between Thomas and Spieth in Boston. If you had to predict, who ends up with more Tour wins? And more majors? Thanks. #AskAlan” -Ben (@bendignan)
Majors is an easy call—go with the guy who already leads 3-1. Tour wins is a more interesting question because Thomas’s game is much more explosive so it’s easy to imagine him overpowering a bunch of  garden variety Tour setups. And the Golden Child is already thinking of his career in historical terms; perhaps grinding through the Hartfords of the world will lose some appeal. Meanwhile, Thomas plays with a chip on his shoulder and, at least for now, every win is precious and he seems desperate to keep going.
“In honor of this story, if you could have sex on a golf hole which hole would it be?” [email protected]_Zak
Well, it’s the 10th at Pebble Beach and it’s already happened…a couple of times! (Woot, woot.) [Ed. note: attempts to fact check this claim came up empty.] So for my second coming I’ll go with the greatest hole in the world, the 16th at Cypress Point. Around the turn of the century, two buddies and I sneaked on under a full moon and played this iconic hole with glow-in-the-dark balls. There’s really only one way to top that experience.
“Is Paul Casey the heir to the Westwood throne?” -Eric @SmithR13z
I love the thought of Westy unbolting his toilet and delivering it to Casey. But I think you mean a very talented English bloke who doesn’t get it done in the majors. I’m not ready to give up on Casey yet—he’s resurrected his career after injury and divorce and is playing at a very high level, with six top-six finishes this season. On the other hand, for all his manifold talent Casey has exactly one win on the PGA Tour in 218 starts. (Westy has two victories in 230 events.) So it’s a pretty big leap to make a major championship career win number two.
“Seems like Leishman is destined for Chris DiMarco what-coulda-been award. Is there a golfer who was closer to immortality than DiMarco?”-Todd (@tamcfall)

It’s insane how good DiMarco played in the majors for a couple of years there. Alas, he caught Tiger at his peak. Westwood has a similar tale of woe, with 72nd-hole Waterloos at both the 2008 U.S. Open and ’09 British, to go along with a whopping 16 other top-10s in the majors. Colin Montgomerie also had his heart broken a few times, including Jack Nicklaus’s premature congratulations at the ’92 U.S. Open. Everyone remembers Phil Mickelson’s self-immolation at Winged Foot but just moments earlier Monty double-bogied the 72nd hole from the middle of the fairway to kick away the Open, one of his five runner-up finishes in the majors. If misery loves company, DiMarco has plenty. But Monty managed to sneak into the Hall of Fame and Westy is a future Ryder Cup captain so failing to come through on his handful of chances surely had a bigger effect on DiMarco’s legacy, such as it is.
“What’s the maximum for course logos on an outfit? I was paired with a guy sporting Masters logos on his hat, wind breaker, head covers (3x), ball mark, belt..we get it, you went.” -B.G. (@showtime583)
Honestly, even two is pushing it. If it’s from the same course/club, you look like an employee. If it’s from two different ones you look like a douche. I have a million logo’d hats but seek out stylish shirts and outerware that are blessedly unadorned. If you ever see me wearing two logos I must’ve gotten dressed in the dark.
“If you offered any of the current top 10 players Greg Norman’s career, would any of them take it?” [email protected])
We all linger on the sad fact that Norman took *only* two majors but he did rack up 20 wins on the PGA Tour, 31 in Australia, 14 on the Euro tour, etc. Most impressively, he was world number one for 331 weeks, a number exceeded only by Tiger. No doubt Stenson, Fowler, and Garcia would gladly take Norman’s career. I think Matsyama, too; being number one would be a huge thing in Japan. I’m thinking Jason Day would do it, too. Spieth and McIlroy already have more majors, so they’re the only clear no’s. Dustin is going to easily surpass Shark’s 20 Tour wins and he thinks he has another handful of majors in him, so he would pass on the offer. Rahm and Thomas are enough young and cocky enough to think they can do better than two majors. It’s a testament to Shark’s mixed legacy—and the weight we put on major championships—that this is a tough choice for a guy like Rahm, who has exactly one PGA Tour victory.
“When you finally achieve your hole-in-one, which course and hole will it be on? #AskAlan. (Today’s the 30th anniversary of my one and only ace.)” [email protected]
I have to say I’m enjoying getting hazed by all of your hole-in-one stories. Just days after unburdening myself of my lifetime of rotten luck, I was playing the 141-yard 15th hole at Pasatiempo and my tee shot never left the flag. My frequent playing partner, Kevin Price, started shouting, “It’s happening!” My ball landed three feet short, hopped forward and danced around the cup before spinning back. It’s the closest I’ve come since lipping one out at Lake Merced a year and a half ago. Were the golf gods mocking me, or offering encouragement? Impossible to say. Likewise, it would be folly to predict a hole, but I’ll do so anyway: No. 3 on the Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore Course. It’s a short, downhill hole and depending on where the pin is placed there are slopes that feed the ball close. Fingers crossed.
“Why not make the Tour Championship 36 holes of stroke play, award points, take the top 16, then do match play with the top 8 seeds choosing their opponent?” -Mike (@mcaverhill)
Because that makes far too much sense and would be way too entertaining.

“What are the top 5 courses you’ve played in the last year?” [email protected]
1. Pebble Beach
2. MPCC Shore
3. Bandon Dunes
4. MPCC Dunes
5. Spyglass Hill
6. Bandon Trails
7. Pacific Dunes
8. Pasatiempo
9. Essex County
10. Trump Dubai [image:13539705]
“How many more bad weeks before you’re begging to use Rordinary?” -Mark (@mocycling)
I can say with some certainty that even if McIlroy never makes another cut I shall not be employing that term.

“Can we shame the pros into marking before someone chips? There was a video of Spieth chipping w a ball at 2 feet and at 6 inches. #AskAlan” -Nick (@BladyNick)
It’s funny how this has suddenly become a thing—guys on Tour have been doing this forever. Some like to say it’s a pace of play issue, some see it as a courtesy to their playing partners, others are just being lazy and another constituency simply doesn’t care. The real question is, why does this bother y’all so much?