Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Gary Nicklaus, Tiger's win total, Adam Scott and more

Alan Shipnuck’s Mailbag: Gary Nicklaus, Tiger’s win total, Adam Scott and more

Having no PGA Tour event this past weekend deeply affected my biorhythms, so apologies for the belated ‘Bag. Onward:

Gary-and-jack-nicklaus "How did Gary Nicklaus get his amateur status reinstated? And now he is turning pro again? Doesn't this make a bit of a mockery of the rules about amateur status?" There are a lot of reinstated amateurs prowling around, their failed pro careers cleverly disguised by ratty carry-bags and logo-free polos. I covered the 1996 Publinks in Kauai—tough gig, I know—and a reinstated amateur named Tim Hogarth prevailed, thus earning a tee time at the ensuing Masters. In a moment of candor, Hogarth admitted he knew the only way he was going to get to Augusta was as an amateur, not a pro.
The USGA has a fairly rigorous protocol for reinstating amateurs, generally calling for a two-year waiting period after the end of a professional career. What I find amusing is that the USGA explicitly says reinstatement is basically just for scrubs, declaring in its guidelines, "Players of national prominence who have acted contrary to the Rules of Amateur Status for more than five years normally will not be eligible for reinstatement." Luckily for Gary Nicklaus (at right, with Jack), he never achieved national prominence. But now that he’s turning pro again I seriously doubt the USGA will ever grant him amateur status again. Ship: Tiger is creeping up on Jack's 73 PGA Tour wins with his current 71. We know Tiger's benchmark is the majors, but aren't total wins a better indicator of greatness? The depth of the field at many events, e.g., Fed ex, Bay Hill, Players, Memorial, seem to rival the fields at the Majors. Major winners get more notoriety but that seems to be largely from sentimental tradition." — David from Hazeltine I agree total victories is an underrated measuring stick. If his career ended today, Phil Mickelson’s 36 career wins—12th all-time—is a better reflection of his talent level than his three majors, which ties him for 26th, with guys like Denny Shute, Julius Boros, Bob Ferguson and Ralph Guldahl. In my mind majors are largely a measure of a player’s mental toughness and course management. Regular tour victories reflect consistency, longevity and an ability to shoot really low numbers. (These skill sets overlap to some degree, obviously.) Tiger doesn’t talk much about his career victory total, but it will get a lot of play when he passes Nicklaus, and even more so when he usurps Sam Snead's 82. Hopefully these epic totals will garner the respect they deserve. "With the season that Adam Scott has had, what do you think the chances are of him having any success at the Presidents Cup? Putting is key and he hasn't been lighting it up on the greens." —Fred Matsubara Scott has never been an ace on the greens, but in partner play he has a very solid 6-4-2 record in three Cups. (As for his 0-3 singles record, the less said the better.) He used to hit the ball so straight that he was a coveted alternate-shot partner, and his birdie binges made him pretty tough in foursomes, too. Watching Scott at this year’s Presidents Cup will be a fascinating exercise, as he will be a lab rat in SoftSpikes. He is going to face more scrutiny than any captain’s pick ever has. The pressure may break him, but I think he’s going to be a pleasant surprise. Being in a slump is a lonely experience, but at the Prez Cup he will have very supportive teammates cheering him on and the avuncular counsel of his idol and mentor, Capt. Norman. Also, a lot of Scott’s tournaments this year have featured a good number of birdies but were spoiled by a few blow-up holes, which don’t hurt as much in match play. "I was at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill. With a little work on the greens and narrowing the fairways, methinks it could be a US Open venue. Your thoughts, o wise one?" —Mike Colucci If you define an Open venue as boring and hard, then sure, Cog Hill could easily fit the bill. It now has the length and crazy-deep bunkering to help protect par. The severe greens were kept soft for the BMW, which allowed for a lot of birdies, but if they were ever made firm and fast the course would be a monster. I don’t think Dubsdread is overly artful or interesting, but in the sadistic hands of the USGA it could definitely provide a very stern test. "What has happened to Aaron Baddeley?" Do you ever see those GolfChannel infomercials for the Stack ‘N Tilt, in which Baddeley had a starring role? Disregard. Dude is now unstacked and no longer tilting. Baddley’s career-long search for a repeatable swing has left him dazed and confused, and even his magical putting stroke can’t save him.

Beatriz-Recari "What brand of pants are the Tour players wearing with the lower case letter 'e' above back right pocket? Example: Mark Wilson at BMW Champ." —Chase Adams Good god, man, do you really want to admit to staring at the derrieres of various Tour players? I, personally, make it a point to never notice logos above the back right pocket, so I can’t help you here. But if you want to know what brand of skirt Beatriz Recari (right) is wearing these days… Editors' Note: The brand appears to be élevée. Photos: David Cannon/Getty Images (Nicklauses); Richard Heathcote/Getty Images (Recari)