#AskAlan mailbag: Is Tony Finau a lock for the Ryder Cup? And is Bryson underrated?

August 28, 2018

Per recent reports that in a revamped FedEx Cup the Tour Championship might start with the points leader at 10 under par: it’s so weird I think it might actually work! Kinda sounds like this Mailbag, actually.

When Bryson contends, he inspires me to practice, play, experiment. When Jordan contends (holing putts from everywhere) I want to put the clubs away. When Tiger contends, I just want to watch. What inspires you? [email protected]

This is quite a thought-provoking question. I love watching DJ, et al do their thing but I’m most inspired by the gritty grinders – the Brian Gays and Kevin Nas of the world, who can’t overpower a course and instead have to rely on guile and precision. I know I can’t smash a 250 yard 5-iron like Koepka – that’s an entirely different game. But if I was more dedicated I could sort of replicate what Zach Johnson does, so that’s why I enjoy watching such masters. Although I should add that thanks to Bryson I’m now playing a single-length set of Edel irons so clearly I know the mania of which you speak.

Is Bryson underrated? #AskAlan [email protected]

I think he’s both under- and overrated. Three wins in the span of 13 months at the age of 24 is pretty special. But there is so much noise around Bryson – much of warranted, admittedly – that his actual accomplishments have largely gotten lost, which makes him underrated. On the other hand, he receives way more attention than Brooks Koepka, which would make DeChambeau very overrated. So even in this way Bryson remains enigmatic.

Is Bryson DeChambeau overrated or underrated? Alan Shipnuck says both.
Is Bryson DeChambeau overrated or underrated? Alan Shipnuck says both.

Please tell me Tony is in the Ryder Cup, yeah? [email protected]

At this point, it’s hard to imagine Finau has not locked up his spot. I’ve felt all along that Cap. Furyk would want as many hardened veterans as possible to take into a hostile environment, but while Zach Johnson has been solid Finau has been borderline-spectacular. No other Ryder Cup veteran has done anything this summer to warrant consideration. This U.S. team is so deep Furyk now has the luxury of picking specialists, much like USA Basketball selecting a defensive stopper to fill a specific need. Finau could be a monster in fourballs — just pair him with a steady partner and turn him loose.

If Spieth-Reed and Tiger-Bryson are “locks” to be pairings, what are a couple other American duos you’d like to see? [email protected]

Tiger and Phil, of course! I’ve been saying for months it’s gonna happen, despite Furyk’s protestations. I still believe it will. How about a pairing of the Bash Brothers, Brooks and Dustin? I wouldn’t want to be the poor Euros who have to handle all that virility and machismo. I also want to see Tiger-PReed, because that will be extra saucy. And a Jordan-JT combo could also be great, given their chemistry. This U.S. team is so stacked there are almost too many possibilities.

#AskAlan Count me out for pay-per-view on Phil vs. Tiger. But being in the gallery could be fun. How many fans* will be in? *non agent, sponsor, media, etc. -Alex (@alwilly13)

Not many! Because that entails paying for more buses to bring in fans to a remote location, food vendors to feed them, bathrooms, etc., and that just cuts into the almighty bottom line. This is purely a television show and all the organizers want are a few hundred warm bodies to ring each green so it doesn’t look too barren on TV. They’ll get those numbers from the minions in your asterisk.

What would be the response (from you, the public, the press, and the PGA) if Finau somehow wins the FedEx Cup without winning a single tournament all year? #AskAlan -Bud (@tombagjr)

I would consider it the greatest thing ever, because it would highlight how kooky the points system has been all along. Clearly this doomsday scenario haunts the dreams of various Tour executives, which is why we’re getting yet another tweak to the points race.

Is Brooke Henderson capable of reaching No. 1? Alan Shipnuck says yes.
Is Brooke Henderson capable of reaching No. 1? Alan Shipnuck says yes.

Pretty excited with Brooke’s win in Canadian! First Canadian to win their national tournament since 1973. At almost 21 years old do you see her being able to get to #1 in the world? #AskAlan -Elaine (@Konapel)

Yeah, what a fabulous victory that was the and the national lovefest that followed told you a lot about Brooke (and Canada). Of course she can get to number one; it will be an upset if she never does. The only critique you ever hear about Henderson on the LPGA is that she can be so aggressive it occasionally strays into recklessness. She’s still so young I have no doubt she’ll fine-tune her course management and then look out.

So you think Brooks’s success will cause Dustin to try harder and could that actually hurt Dustin’s game? #askalan -Sam (@swilliams8)

Dustin is already trying quite hard – the guy grinds in the gym, on the range and even at the dinner table. But no doubt DJ’s pride is hurting. He’s always been the swami/big brother in that relationship and now quite suddenly he has been utterly eclipsed by his protégé. Dustin’s and Brooks’s lives are so incestuous: same swing coach, trainer and management firm. If any strain does develop in their relationship it will get very complicated very fast. Hopefully Dustin does some soul-searching and figures out what Brooks has found that allows him to shine on the biggest stages, because that is the missing piece in Johnson’s career. It would be awesome if DJ picks off another major or two next year and turns a friendship into an epic rivalry.

Should I choke down on my clubs like Brooke does? #AskAlan @Weldiebeast

How tall are you? What kind of shafts do you play? What kind of divot do you usually take? What’s your ball-flight like? There are about ten other factors to consider. Choking down gives you a bit more control and can lead to a more consistent strike but also makes the shaft play stiffer and can reduce your clubhead speed because of the shorter swing arc. It’s worth experimenting with but whether or not it’s good for you is a question that a licensed professional should answer.

How do you square Tiger’s diplomacy when asked about his relationship with Trump with the racism he has faced playing what has historically been an all- white sport? -Andrew (@BordrWallflower)

To borrow from one of our greatest philosophers, it is what it is.