Gary Van Sickle's Mailbag: Tiger trouble, double eagle vs. albatross, Haney's book

Gary Van Sickle’s Mailbag: Tiger trouble, double eagle vs. albatross, Haney’s book

Louis Oosthuizen made a 2 on the par-5 second hole at the Masters. Here's the question: do you call the feat a double eagle or an albatross?
Al Tielemans/SI

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — The Masters is in the rearview mirror and Bubba Watson is appearing on every talk show on television, or so it seems. It's amazing. Even more amazing, Bubba has killed it on the publicity circuit.

His best moment had to be when he went one-on-one with Piers Morgan and scored first blood by telling the acerbic host that he wanted to do his show first "because you are such a pr—." Morgan almost fell out of his chair laughing while Bubba explained that he liked the way Morgan was ruthless to the less-talented contestants as a judge on "America's Got Talent."

Anyway, Bubba's skill at saying all the right things with a mix of humility, respect and humor has been a revelation. Good for him. He's been a breath of fresh air. Meanwhile, I'm taking in a lot of fresh ocean air down here by the lighthouse during the RBC Heritage while I check out what's new in the Van Cynical Mailbag:

Instead of ripping you for the article "2012 Masters is TW's to lose" I will say I enjoyed your article wrapping up Tiger's dismal Masters. Again, the difference between TW and Phil is so wide. TW about makes me physically ill, while Phil is just what golf is supposed to be about. No complaining and no excuses. I really think TW has issues handling the pressure at the majors, his self-imposed pressure and the pressure of the event. Do you think Augusta National will put a plaque up for Bubba ?
— Tim Delaney

Don't be shy, rip away. The fact that Tiger tanked in Augusta doesn't change the fact that a lot of folks, including me, were fooled into believing that Tiger's game had finally climbed back to a high level. Based on perception and his status as the favorite, it was his to lose. And boy, did he lose it. Looks like all of us were wrong about where Tiger's game is. As for pressure, I've always said it was difficult for me to separate Tiger's mental toughness from his superior technique. Is it mental toughness that allows a golfer to make a clutch putt or key shot or is it perfect technique? And the flip side is, how much tougher is it to make a clutch putt or crucial shot when you know your technique isn't where you want it? As for Bubba, I don't see a plaque in the near future. If anyone gets a plaque, it probably ought to be Louis Oosthuizen for his deuce at No. 2. You know, King Louie's two shots Sunday at No. 2 tied the number of right-handed shots Phil Mickelson played at No. 4.

Where did all this talk of a "double-eagle" come from? An "albatross" maintains the perfect symmetry of golf. Can lead the revolution please? Cheers!
— Sean

You might want to clue in Gene Sarazen, Sean, because the day after his famous shot at the Masters, he referred to it as a "dodo." The terms have become interchangeable. From what I can glean, it's albatross in Europe and usually double eagle in the United States. Although a good point is, if an eagle is two under par on a hole, wouldn't a double eagle be four under par? There is no correct answer, but most Americans know what a double eagle is. They have no clue what an albatross is unless they've read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Nineteen of the 21 breeds of albatross are near extinction, by the way. Also, albatross is Spanish for pelican. So if Sergio Garcia makes a double eagle, we should probably call it a pelican. I like that. For trivia buffs, Jeff Maggert is the only golfer who has made a double eagle in two major championships — at No. 13 in the '94 Masters and at No. 6 in the '01 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's. No revolution, Sean. We're Americans and we're sticking with double eagle. Cheerio… dude!

I know the answer is money, but I still have to ask why long-time established veterans like Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, even Freddie Couples have to walk around wearing more logos than Roy McAvoy? They're already filthy rich and seem like guys that have some semblance of class and dignity. What gives?
— Mark Feiner

What gives? Feiner, would you like some free money? A whole pile of it? A big, honking pile of money? Yeah, I thought so.

I am always curious about the things players are thinking but they could never publicly say. Criticizing Augusta National and the Masters is not something a player dares to do. However, there was a fair amount of talk about mud balls causing bad shots. I am curious if there was a lot of complaining about muddy golf balls behind the scenes? Was that really a bad move on the Masters part to not allow lift clean and place? Did the players think it was wrong?
— Andrew Johnson

Things have changed since you were president, Mr. Johnson. There was no behind-the-scenes talk at the 2012 Mudball Masters — it was in front of the cameras and well publicized. Masters officials, like their counterparts at the USGA and the R&A, don't believe in lift, clean and place rules. That's largely a PGA Tour allowance. I didn't hear any players saying it was wrong; they just talked about how they were unable to control their approach shots and that led to higher scores and an element of luck. Rub of the green has always been part of the game. Lift, clean and cheat is relatively new. The Masters played it the right way.

Vansanity, What's your take on the comment that Hank Haney broke the code that should exist between a coach and player? Don't you think Hank is out there to make a few bucks? Without Tiger, he is almost a no-name. Thanks.
— Nayem, Toronto

I don't think "Vansanity" has the same ring as "Van Cynical" or my other nickname due to a typo on my original Sports Illustrated business card, "Senior Waiter." I hardly think Haney is hurting for money. He wrote the book to record an important portion of golf history, cement his legacy as a golf teacher of note, and, I think, mainly to answer the critics who say Tiger won all those majors despite Haney's methods not because of them. The fact that it will prove to be sort of lucrative — c'mon, golf books don't make big money — is merely a plus. Did he break an unwritten code? I don't know, is there a code against telling the truth?

Gary, Based on your last mailbag, your "modern" era (post-Faldo/Norman/Price) Top 3 is Tiger, Phil, then Ernie. Strikes me Vijay has to get the 4 spot, which leads to my question. If we are allowed to be nonobjective Pennsylvanians, can't we make a pretty good case that Jim Furyk is No. 5?
— David S., York, Pa.

I'm not so sure about your original premise, David, but even then, how do we ignore three-time major winner Padraig Harrington? It's premature to rank players in a current era because they aren't done yet. But if we did rankings based on endorsements, Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter would have to be in the mix. That's all for now — it's "go time!"