So I wrote an obituary for the Ryder Cup, with the forthcoming American dominance as the cause of death. Sergio Garcia was among those who took to Twitter to disagree. It was a fun debate that has spilled over into this week’s #AskAlan…
“Do you think your Ryder Cup piece would have been met with more than a shrug had you swapped the sides?” – Andrew (@andyjamesdalton)
A few hard-core Americans would have registered their displeasure but there would not have been anything like the outrage that flowed across the Atlantic. The Euro golf fans take the Ryder Cup (and themselves) very, very seriously. There was an undercurrent of Ugly Americanism in many of the comments, which I found curious, because I said explicitly in the piece the U.S. dominance would not be a good thing for the event. When it comes to the Ryder Cup I travel on no passport and am merely an impartial observer. In fact, I was often quite satisfied with the European victories in the aughts because it made for a better story, at least until those wins became repetitious. But I certainly enjoyed all the frothing-at-the-mouth from the European fans and no doubt my Twitter feed will be quite lively when the Cup rolls around.
“What’s the most credible death threat you received after your Ryder Cup article? #AskAlan” – Steve (@_SMisner)
Well, I got a text from a veteran of multiple European teams and all it said was, “I can’t wait to shove Sam Ryder’s trophy up your ass next year.” Does that count?
“Is It crazy for Euros to just do away with Ryder Cup points and let the captain pick the hottest 12 hands?” – Laz (@Laz_Versalles)
I recall Paul Azinger floated this concept a decade ago for the American side. It certainly makes sense for the captain, who could avoid the nightmare scenario of a guy piling up a bunch of points nine or ten months ahead of the event but then falling into a deep slump and bringing his bad form to the matches. But Ryder Cup qualifying is a way to ensure continued support for the European tour — see Paul Casey’s recent announcement — so the season-long points race will never go away. It also provides a weekly drumbeat of hype for the event, as points are at stake at every tournament. It would definitely make sense to grant the captains more picks, though.
“You have one 19th hole for life. Where do you choose to enjoy your post-round adult beverage?” – Ian (@DizzyG1964)
Do I get to play the course, too? I have talked often about how much I love Cruden Bay — I’m referring to the layout, but the clubhouse view is also spectacular, perched high on a hill with sweeping vistas of the ocean. Nice, mellow vibe, too. The Tap Room at Pebble Beach is a great spot that oozes atmosphere. Maybe the liveliest hang in golf is the bar at the Cal Club — those dudes are professional drinkers. Pine Valley is ultra-macho yet still classy. There are so many great spots but I think I’d go with National Golf Links. There are incredible ocean views and when you sit down they bring you a lobster as if it’s salsa and chips. How can you beat that?
“Have you seen a pro putt to win a tournament worse than Lexi’s yesterday? #AskAlan” – @Joey1970
Amazingly, yes. There are plenty of horror shows in golf history: Scott Hoch’s blown two-footer that would’ve won the 1989 Masters, Doug Sanders’ yippy 3-footer to boot away the 1970 Open Championship, Stewart Cink’s whiff from 18 inches that ultimately cost him a spot in the playoff at the 2001 U.S. Open. But nothing can top the 1-footer for victory that I.K. Kim missed at the the Dinah Shore in 2012. I’m sorry all this misfortune befell such accomplished players but honestly it makes me feel much better about myself every time I miss a short putt.
“#AskAlan Many pros are kinda ‘jocks’ for lack of a better term… but who’s the nerdiest pro golfer? Yes, DeChambeau and Mickelson go to town with math, but any “literary” types? Bookworms? Intellectuals? Mystics? Musicians? Polyglots? Etc.” – @AndresSotoMarin
It’s easily Charles Howell, III. I’m honestly surprised his golf shirts don’t have pocket-protectors.
“If Jordan and Justin are running 1-2 in 2018, and it comes down to East Lake, does all the friend stuff go out the window? Does the winner become the forever alpha dog and the loser become David Duval?” – @JeremyBenson
First of all, Duval was a badass. For a solid year and a half, beginning in the fall of ’97, he was the best player on the planet. But to your question, Jordan is already golf’s alpha male, and one week at the Tour Championship won’t change that. Spieth has been better than JT at every level, whether it’s AJGA, college or the PGA Tour. No shame in that; Jordan is a transcendent player. It would take 2-3 years of Thomas winning more majors and other goodies for him to surpass his friend and rival. But the friendship angle is played-out. It’s *more* fun to beat your friends. I have on my dresser a Little League baseball which I launched over the left-centerfield fence at Woodside Park for a game-winning Grand Slam circa 1983. That remains one of the greatest moments of my life, largely because I was good friends with other team’s pitcher, poor Carter Val, and the catcher, Chad Gieg, who in a showing of supreme sportsmanship gave me a high-5 as I crossed home plate.
“Are the milkshakes at the Memorial Tournament really worth the hype?!” – @AndrewJacob23
Put it this way: They bring all the boys to the yard.
“What are your writing and playing goals for 2018? #AskAlan” – @ScottyGman23
On-course goals are quite simple: be more consistent. My typical round lately is a couple of birdies, a bevy of pars, some excusable bogeys…and enough doubles to wreck my card. I need to be a little more conservative with my course management and maybe actually practice once in a while to eliminate the big miss.
Per my typing, that’s a more interesting question. The goal is the same as always: find good stories that no one else is telling. This year, which began with the launch of the Knockdown, my website-within-a-website, has been an experiment for me to figure out how to spend my time and energy. I’ve had a blast doing podcasts and video features and will continue to work on both but, based on various metrics and my own gut, I need to focus on writing. What seems to really engage you guys are long features, deadline coverage at the biggest events and opinionated columns. I have a bunch of ideas for 2018. Can’t wait to start the chase.