#AskAlan: Walk-up songs, a fashion faux pas and a Ryder Cup look-ahead

April 25, 2018

I’m taking a break from typing my GOLF Magazine feature on Kiradech Aphibarnrat to put together this mailbag. I gotta say, I never thought I’d write a story with digressions about Lambos, Yeezys *and* Thonghai Jaidee, but here we are. I’m having a blast writing about Barn Rat, can’t wait for y’all to see the finished story. But first, more pressing matters…

What would Ben Hogan’s “walk up” song be if he were playing Nola this week? #AskAlan —@ScottyGman23

It would have to be elegant and understated, with a hint of menace. I’m thinking Beethoven’s 5th. A few folks have asked what mine would be. That’s easy: “F— Tha Police.”

It looked like Jay Feely came straight from the course to see his daughter off to prom. Was his white belt not the most offensive item in that photo? —@JohnnyZBoyz

That picture was a bad idea on many levels but it does provide a good opportunity to restate my golden rule on white belts: If your age or waist size is greater than 34, don’t even think about it.

Will #Shotmakers threaten the all-time record (12) for most Emmys® won in a single season? —@ClubProGuy

I hate to be too mean, because a good friend of mine is on the show: Chelsea Lynn Pezzola. But really, it’s not even a show, it’s a recurring informercial for TopGolf. In the context of the Perfect Club and various other infomercials that haunt our nightmares, “Shotmakers” ain’t that bad!

Presuming the world of golf is worth 1 trillion dollars, what would be the value if Tiger Woods had never been born? —@JoeGunter

Five hundred billion.

Does Alex Levy play his way to a Captain’s Pick and be the French connection on the European Ryder Cup side this year? #AskAlan —Nick (@tweetnickpt)

Levy’s win in Morocco certainly adds to the intrigue; he’s now 9th on the Euro points list, with the top four automatically qualifying. (He has virtually no shot to be one of the four who qualify off the World list.) Thomas Bjorn will also have four captain’s picks and he has stated his desire to have at least one French player compete on home soil. But Levy, 27, would represent a huge risk as a pick: he has never played a Masters or made a cut at the Open Championship or finished better than 27th at any major. In seven career WGCs he cracked the top 30 only once. But the guy does have five victories on the Euro tour, and perhaps the home crowd could inspire him to great things. Given the strength of the U.S. team, Bjorn’s picks will be crucial and it is going to be fascinating to see what he does with this French twist.

Why are so few U.S. golfers winning on the PGA Tour this year? #AskAlan —Andrew (@a_h_davies)

Well, Americans presently hold all four major championship trophies, and of the 17 Tour events so far in 2018, Yanks have won 11 of them. Doesn’t seem too shabby to me!

Alan, have you read the new Tiger book yet, and if so what were your thoughts? —@MattBare23

I have, and I think it’s an extremely valuable document that is, and probably always will be, the definitive account of the life and times of maybe the biggest enigma in sports history. Jeff Benedict and Armen Ketayian did a terrific job rounding up everything that is already out there – books, magazine and newspaper articles, interview transcripts – and then advancing themes and adding to stories (or debunking them) with their own reporting and packaging it into a highly readable narrative. There a lots of tasty nuggets of new information but I have to admit to being a little disappointed that the authors didn’t uncover any major revelations in their exhaustive reporting. The bottom line on the book: Tiger is who we thought he was, only more so.

#AskAlan Is parity good for the PGA Tour? I think it needs a marquee player winning at least a third of the time. See the Tiger Era —Nick (@BladyNick)

Depends on who is doing the winning – I don’t hear anyone pining for the Vijay Singh epoc. In an individual sport it does help train the attention of casual fans to have a Yankees-like franchise everyone is gunning for. So many good young players are in their primes it’s hard to see one guy breaking from the pack, but it certainly would help clarify the storylines if two or three could emerge.

While warming up at the range, several pros will have their caddy toss them a few balls to hit that don’t seem to be from the practice range. Why? Something special or different about these balls? —Craig (@Ctank2116)

At Tour events there are a half dozen different kinds of range balls; after they are picked they get sorted and players can choose their preferred brand and model. Sometimes the balls get washed and are still a little wet, or sometimes the ground is damp. Either way, the rocks can pick up grass or dirt, which is a no-go for the obsessive-compulsives on Tour. I’m pretty sure what you’re talking about is caddies toweling off the balls and then tossing them to their player, rather than putting them on the ground where they can be besmirched.

I’ve long been curious about your occasional disrespect toward lesser known Tour winners. “Jabroni” would seem to be your most preferred label. These guys have fought their way to the top, if only for a weekend, but there you are ready to slap them down. What gives? #AskAlan —Dan (@RealCanadian)

Haha, busted…though I don’t think I’ve typed jabroni in a long while. Your indignation is valid; I should indeed spend more time celebrating these victories. I’ll try harder.

Will Marc Leishman be a worthy major winner? —@SimonDick5

This dovetails with question above, but the answer is different: the majors are where the game’s brightest stars need to shine. A win by a big-time player on a classic course creates buzz that crosses over into the larger sports and media worlds. One-off wins by the Danny Willetts of the world don’t do much for the sport. Leishman would be a good (but not great) winner: he has a very moving family story, and just as importantly, he’s already lost a few majors along the way. Golf fans have gotten to know him, and all of us are now more invested in his breakthrough. Does he have the star quality to move the proverbial needle? Probably not, but I’m still rooting for him.

Should all opposite-field events on the PGA Tour be a format other than 72 hole stroke play? —Chris (@no_gimmes)

This is the best idea I’ve heard in a while. The opposites exist merely to provide playing opportunities for the Tour’s middle class – it’s not asking too much for them to try to entertain us, too.

Hey Alan, how do you place the Players on your mind map? Where does it feature in your ranking of golf tournaments outside the majors and why? #AskAlan —Anand (@SportaSmile)

To be quite honest, I’m not sure I’ve thought about the Players once in the last 11 months. It’s a very good tournament, with a stellar field and fun, quirky venue. It’s definitely in the first tier of tournaments below the majors. Ranking the non-majors is tricky because the venues of the Northern Trust and BMW change year to year. So, for the purposes of this exercise, I’m using the 2018 courses. Here’s my ranking:

1.Los Angeles Open
5.Match Play
6.Northern Trust
7.WGC Mexico City

Can “tiger” be used as a verb? Meaning to unnecessarily change an already excellent swing that’s generating multiple wins. Example: Lydia Ko, with Leadbetter’s help, has tigered things up so badly that she’s a ghost of her former dominant self. —Ron (@PressingPause)

I’ve been bummed about Ko’s struggles – she remains one of my favorite players and people in golf. Her situation is made more complicated by overbearing parents, but she shares a key personality trait with Tiger, and Padraig Harrington, and Ian Baker-Finch and others: the insatiable need for improvement that drove them to the mountaintop doesn’t end once they’ve arrived. They can’t stop tinkering and trying to get better, because that’s what they’ve done their entire life. The idea that Tiger could’ve just done “maintenance” with Butch Harmon from 2000 until the end of time fundamentally misjudges who Woods is: his favorite maxim has always been, “If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse.” Obviously even the most talented players can lose their way, and right now Ko is in a maze, trying to feel her way out. But if “tiger” is a verb, the definition should be to chase greatness, with no guarantees.

Who would you rather see in a Ryder Cup singles match: Reed vs. Poulter or Reed vs. McIlroy II? #AskAlan —Tony (@ducksphan)

Poulter for sure. Reed took McIlroy’s manhood at Augusta, and I’m afraid a rematch could get ugly. A Poulter-Reed match would be utterly epic, two imperfect golfers in a death match like no other.

Early pick for FedEx Cup? —Ryan (@reverett013)

No thank you.