We used to call this week's tournament The Hope. The new name has us all off-rhythm. Humana Challenge? That doesn't roll off the tongue. Bill Clinton is getting most of the publicity, so it should focus on him. The Clinton? Nah. The Bill? Sounds like we owe money. The Bubba? Hmm. I think that gets my vote. If you have another nominee for a catchy nickname for the Humana Challenge or a question for next week's mailbag, send it in. Meanwhile, here's this week's edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag:
Hi, Gary. I was disappointed to see that Joseph Bramlett lost his PGA Tour card. Where did he finish on the money list? Where will he play during 2012? Will we see him on the Nationwide Tour? Is he eligible to play in any PGA Tour events?
— Ashley, Washington, D.C.
Bramlett, a 6'4" former Stanford star who made headlines in 2010 when he became the first African-American player to graduate from Q-school in 25 years, finished 196th on the PGA Tour money list in his rookie season. He made 12 of 25 cuts, not bad, but had only two finishes inside the top 25 . Not good. At least, not good for trying to retain your card. You'll have to look hard for Bramlett in 2012. He missed advancing through the second stage of Q-school by one stroke. Only the players who reached the third and final stage earned status on the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour. Bramlett will have to ask for sponsors' exemptions — he might get a couple on the West Coast — and he'll likely have to play Monday qualifiers just to get into some Nationwide events.
Who is the Tim Tebow of the PGA Tour? Or, who was the last PGA Tour player who got Tim Tebow coverage and yet, like Tim, didn't deserve it from an on-the-course merit standpoint?
— Phil Werz via Facebook
I hear you, Phil, but come on — Tebow took a 1-4 team to first place and the playoffs. He deserved some attention for that. There hasn't been anyone in golf close to the Tebow story. If you have to pick someone, it might be Rickie Fowler, who is a marquee name even though he has yet to win on the PGA Tour in his brief career. But he did have a star turn in the Ryder Cup, so he's earned some of his attention. Natalie Gulbis on the LPGA is one of that tour's bigger names, but she's not a big winner. No, Tebow was a unique sports phenomenon in 2011. Golf has no one who can touch his story.
OK, Gary, help us Euros out and pick our 12 players for Medinah. I'm thinking Luke, Westy, Rory, Kaymer, GMac, Rose, Poults, Quiros, Dyson and Sergio. Then two from Casey, Matteo, Laird, Luiten and maybe Bjorn or Karlsson. I'd love to see Luiten on the team. He looks brilliant. Then again, I said the same about Raphael Jacquelin about 10 years ago.
— Ivor Gainey, via Facebook
Nice job, Ivor, you managed to squeeze 16 names onto your 12-man roster. You have assistant captain potential. The mortal locks have to be Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer. Graeme McDowell's slump last year was startling. I can't see him not rebounding, so he's on the squad. That's six. Justin Rose is enigmatic, but he's not going to miss another Ryder Cup team, is he? I don't think so. I agree that Sergio is back and will win a spot. That's eight. I'd like to see Alvaros Quiros and Simon Dyson make the team, but they've got stiff competition. I think Martin Laird edges them out. So do the Molinari brothers, Matteo and Eduardo. Oops, that's 11 and there's only one spot for the British Open champion, Darren Clarke, or ex-Open champ Padraig Harrington or Paul Casey. Damn, that is one loaded team. Play hard this year, Americans.
Forecast the entire PGA Tour year for us as you see it unfolding.
— Curt Palmer, via Facebook
You'll have to join the fantasy league I'm in to get all the details, Mr. Palmer, but in short, I sense a warming trend toward summer and perhaps a lengthening of days. Followed by a cooling trend in the fall. And then on Dec. 20, according to my pocket Mayan calendar, we all go kablooey. So November is a good month to take out a big loan, lease a Maybach and book numerous tee times at Pebble Beach. And if you're booking a time there on 12-20-2012, try to be first off the tee. There's nothing more annoying than having a chance to shoot a career score and having the Earth blow up before you get to 18.
If the moon was made of spare ribs, would ya eat it?
— Dan O'Neill via Twitter
I thought that question was pretty clear when Harry Caray, played by Will Ferrell, asked it of Jeff Goldblum on SNL. Goldblum equivocated, but Harry said yes, he'd eat it — ribs are delicious. If Will Ferrell were playing the Humana Challenge this week as a celebrity in the pro-am, I'd definitely watch that on Golf Channel. Right after I ordered some carry-out ribs.