#AskAlan: Is Tiger Woods’s conditioning a cause for concern?

February 21, 2019

Every week, GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck fields questions from the masses about hot topics in the golf world. This week, Shipnuck dishes on J.B. Holmes and his solution to slow play, Tiger Woods’ conditioning concerns at the Genesis, Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar’s apologies and much more.

Is J.B. Holmes the guy who asks the waitress to list all 45 beers and then orders the Bud Light? [email protected]

So many excellent J.B. barbs this week, and this was my favorite. Yes, it was torturous watching Holmes bog down the telecast, but I, for one, am thankful for his, uh, deliberateness. In fact, I hope he contends every time he tees it up, because Holmes’s presence on the leaderboard may finally lead to a tipping point in the battle against slow play. J.B.’s plum-bobbing on two-footers is the golf equivalent of baby seals being clubbed to death; that is, a powerful image that unifies public sentiment against a grave injustice. Thank you J.B. for your invaluable service.

#AskAlan Do we all owe Rory Sabbatini a big apology for jumping down his throat after he left his slow-playing partner behind? Did he really have it right all those years ago? [email protected]

Yes, Rory was clearly a man ahead of his time. When we write a revisionist history of the Tour he will surely be hailed as the hero we didn’t deserve. In fact, Sabbatini’s civil disobedience offers a valuable template for battling slow play. Golf fans and scribes can complain every Sunday on Twitter, but that is clearly not going to spark a revolution. Jay Monahan and his castrated rules officials have proven they don’t have the balls to deal with this issue. The corporate sponsors and TV networks want to pretend everything is hunky-dory. It is going to take vigilante justice from the players to affect change. We need alpha males like Tiger, Phil, Brooks, and R. McIlroy to start calling out and confronting the slow pokes in a very public fashion, and that may finally start to reshape the culture on Tour.

Hearing his comments after finishing the 4th round, is Tiger’s conditioning a concern or is age catching up to him a little bit? -Daniel (@68shooter)

Tiger is the world’s oldest 43 year-old. In fact, his age should be measured in dog years. He’s been grinding since he was two years old and his body has repeatedly broken under the strain. With his reconstituted spine there are simply going to be days when his body won’t allow him to play his best. Cold temperatures and rain and long days of starting and stopping is never going to be a good recipe for Tiger’s back, and he looked stiff and tired all weekend at Riv. Of course, it’s going to be a chilly year of golf and Tiger is going to have to find ways to stay loose and refreshed or he’s going to struggle in the biggest events. The Players in March could be frigid, Bethpage in May might be cold and wet, Pebble Beach in June is always foggy, and Portrush could be nasty. Yikes.

Tiger Woods had an outside chance to win the Genesis Open before four late bogeys derailed him.
Getty Images

#AskAlan Regarding Sergio and Kuch: A: whose apology was more sincere? B: whose apology was more effective? Bonus round: whose original sin was more egregious? -Oskar (@tallboy199)

A). Sergio’s felt like real contrition, while it appeared to take a team of crisis management experts to convince Kuchar to sort of say and do something like the right thing. Advantage Garcia.

B). Sergio has always been petulant and he long ago lost the benefit of the doubt; the whole golf world will be watching for his next slip-up. I think Kuchar finally put an end to his sordid saga, so I’ll give him the edge. Barely.

Bonus round: What Sergio did was ridiculous, but I don’t think it had any real effect on the players behind him, other than irritating them. Grass grows, greens recover. But Kuchar revealed himself to be a scrooge and point-misser of epic proportions. Screwing over the little guy – and repeatedly blowing opportunities to make it right – is worse than losing your cool on the golf course.

On a scale of 1 to Steve Blass, how concerned are you about the state of Jordan Spieth’s mind? -Garrett (@gfordgolf)

Deeply. Also his putting stroke. And swing. Clearly Spieth is accumulating massive amounts of scar tissue with his weekend blowups. But the guy has always been resilient. Even his greatest triumphs have been fraught – think of the 71st hole double bogey at Chambers Bay or the epic recovery at Birkdale. Spieth is too tough and too talented to simply go away at the tender age of 25. But it’s a long way back to where he was. I’m looking forward to watching him battle through this.

How many weeks of this before Adam Scott starts taking the flag out from 3 feet and in? Obviously helping him on long putts but he’s been brutal on shorties. -Andrew (@Kitzmania)

Through the years Scott has actually been a pretty okay putter from mid- and long-range. It’s the short putts that have always been his bugaboo. It’s not the flagstick that is hurting him, we’re just all paying closer attention to him because the pin is in. But he’s awful from short-range with or without the flagstick.

If the CBS telecast were a person would they have dinner at 4:00 pm in a Bob Evans? Would they also wear a sweater in July in Boca Raton? [email protected]

It’s true that the CBS telecast retains the sensibilities of Ken Venturi, who would now be pushing 90. I dare say that, except for slow play, nothing unites Golf Twitter like protestations about the CBS telecasts. The presentation and metabolism simply isn’t working with the modern golf fan. What’s interesting is that the PGA Tour knows it, because minions from the communications dept. have pushed back against some of the fiercest on-line critics. Perhaps all of this energy would be better spent helping CBS improve its product.

What circle of hell do they put audio of Ian Baker-Finch saying “kikuyu” on eternal loop? #AskAlan -Greg (@GBPackersFan)

Oh, c’mon, that’s one of my guilty pleasures! Next year we should all play a drinking game where we take a shot every time IBF uses that glorious word. We’ll all be dead by Saturday afternoon.