Another golf season is upon us. So, too, is another Van Cynical Mailbag. Thanks for your better-than-usual questions. I can see you've been working out in the offseason.
Will Tiger be intimidating this year? Players sounded confident when TW was shooting 42s. He's not any more. And they know it.
– Ted Taylor, via Twitter
The only way Tiger regains his old intimidation is by running the tables and winning everything for a while. He was intimidating once upon a time because he was outdriving his opponents on a regular basis — he's lost that power edge — and winning majors with record-setting scores. He does that again, he'll be intimidating. I don't think that's going to happen, but I'd love to see it. Wouldn't you? That would make 2012 golf's most exciting year since 2000.
Does Bubba Watson have the most chest hair on tour?
– David Collins, via Twitter
Yes, and it tickles my nose. I mean, I wouldn't know anything about that, David.
Besides this, what's the most original question you've been asked while taking good care of the Van Cynical Mailbag?
– Jayson McEwan, via Twitter
I've been inundated by an unending stream of Tiger questions so this is a nice break. I'm giving the MOQ (Most Original Question) Award to David Collins, see above. I'm not sure why he asked about Bubba, unless he watched that zany Golf Boys' "Oh, Oh, Oh" video three times too many.
OK, Van Cynical, name two U.S. players who weren't on the Presidents Cup team to make the Ryder Cup team on points and who falls off?
– Shosh Agus-Kleinman
Gary Woodland, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler are three pretty obvious candidates, Shosh. They all won't make it on points, probably, since only eight players make the Ryder Cup team that way, but there's a good chance that all three will be on the team. As for which Ryder Cuppers fall off, Stewart Cink hasn't played like his British Open champion self for a while. He'll need a rally. And Jeff Overton? I think I saw his picture on a milk carton recently.
Why is the PGA tour hell-bent on ruining the most compelling tourney of the year, Q-school? Outside the majors I enjoy those stories more so than any of the entire year.
– Todd Bromfman, via Facebook
The PGA Tour appears to be trying to make all roads to the tour go through the Nationwide Tour, which is soon to be without a sponsor. Maybe that will make the Nationwide more marketable and more attractive to potential sponsors. The PGA Tour shouldn't be a closed shop, as I've written previously. As for Q-school stories being compelling, you're right about that, Todd. But you're among the hard-core golf fans who think that. Most viewers, along with many in the media, aren't interested in anything that doesn't feature Tiger and Phil. They're the ones who didn't bother reading the answer to your question.
What is the argument against a true playoff? Regular-season play gets you in (like all sports), then only those who play well when it matters move on. Have a 90 player cut in the first event, 60 in the second, 30 in the third, and whoever wins the final event wins the playoffs. Maybe have a bonus where if you win any of the playoff events, you automatically get into the final.
– Kristopher Barrie, via Facebook
There are two arguments against a true playoff — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. It doesn't matter that we'd like a real playoff because the last thing the TV networks, and therefore the PGA Tour, want is a telecast without either one. You turn the FedEx Cup into a real playoff, there's a chance Tiger and/or Phil, the only two players who really drive a viewing audience, won't be around for the final. That's why they came up with the convoluted system they have now — so they can pretend to have playoffs while making sure they keep the big names in play. If the NBA could figure out a way to guarantee the Miami Heat make the NBA finals, they'd do it, too.
What do you think of winter rules?
– Derek J.J. Whipple, via Facebook
They're unnecessary. We've already got an all-purpose rule for that. It's called, Play it as it lies. That's real golf. Try it.
I've heard Medinah has been in horrible shape the last couple of years. What happens if it's unplayable for the Ryder Cup?
– Sean Cooney, via Twitter
We could always move out into the suburbs to Cog Hill. Or maybe across the international border into Wisconsin and Whistling Straits. Or we could turn the hypothetically horrible conditions into a plus and the pros could get a taste of what the rest of us face when we play low-priced public golf. I'd love to see the pros putt over bare spots, play chip shots out of clover, hit bunker shots out of dirt, mud or gravel instead of sand, and hit off tee boxes with more divot craters than the moon. It would only be better if, instead of pairings and tee times, they had to put a ball in the rack by the first tee and wait their turn. But I digress. Medinah will be just fine, Coon Dog. If there is a problem, the PGA of America will step in and throw a few million bucks at it and fix it.