Jimmy Walker’s Masters Chances and More in the Van Cynical Mailbag

April 1, 2015
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It’s Masters week next week. Let me guess, you’re still having withdrawal pains from flaming out famously in your office NCAA basketball tournament bracket pool.

So you need a new pool. Well, I’m not endorsing gambling but I have heard of a guy who runs a Masters pool where you pick a five-player team. It’s run like a college golf tournament, you pick five guys for the week and you keep the four best scores each day. You are allowed to enter a second team but it most be composed of five different players from your first entry.

And, oh yeah, here’s the Baylor-in-the-first-round-crapout rule—you must post four scores all four days. If two of your players miss the cut or withdraw, you’re out.

This format works as long as entrants have incentive to pick different players. In Tiger’s prime, it would’ve been a good rule to throw him out and not let him be used. You could do that with Rory McIlroy this year, perhaps, although somebody with some guts might leave him out of their lineup.

Anyway, if you’re looking for an additional rooting interest for Masters week, plus a possible TV-room party with live scoring and adult beverages, this Masters pool might work for you.

It solves the problems of holding a draft—first guy has to take Rory—and the logistics of that. It also is more fun than picking names blindly from a hat.

Give it a shot, it might be fun. I mean, uh, from what I’ve heard on the Internet. I wouldn’t really know.

The Van Cynical Mailbag takes on your Masters comments, no self-addressed and stamped envelopes were used in this production:

Van Cynical, True or false, Jimmy “Dy-No-Mite” wins a major this year?—Bustinpar via Twitter

This is a dated reference, Bustin Bieber. You need to contemporize your accessories. This is like some aging golf writer who says that a golf course is prettier than Angie Dickinson. Even Jimmy Walker, Texas Ranger, would be more recent. Look, everybody falls in love with last week’s winner but I’ve been a backer of his for a few years and I’m pretty sure I was the first magazine guy to write a big piece on his astro-photography skills. He’s long, reasonably straight and he can make putts that matter. Plus he finished top 10 in three of four majors last year even though he’d played in only six majors before 2014. True that, Busty.

Van Icicle, It’s not too far-fetched to think Tiger will play the Masters and win by 12 strokes, is it?—Cameron Taylor via Twitter

I don’t know, Camshaft, let me ask my secret mistress, Kate Upton. Tiger winning this Masters would be the most stunning victory of his career by a mile. Twelve shots? That Tiger left town 18 years ago but I can name some TV networks that would love to see a miracle like that. I’ll go the other way: It’s not too far-fetched to think that Tiger might not play. I would not be shocked either way.

Sickle me Elmo, To be honest, nobody stands out for me in Augusta. I’ll go with Louis Oosthuizen, though. He is showing decent form and likes Augusta.—TheBogeyTrain via Twitter

Excellent pick, Trainvestite. I, too, would be putting King Louis in my five-man lineup if I was hypothetically going to be in anyone’s Masters pool. Remember, if Bubba Watson screws up that shot out of the trees on the playoff hole like he probably should have, Louis would already have a green jacket.

Vans, I want to see Victor Dubuisson win it. About time a Musketeer wins a major.—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Not to sound selfish, Manduck, but Victor as the victor would mean new hordes of French golf writers invading our already cramped media rooms. He sure is an impressive talent, though, and capable of putting on a good show. I could deal with it.

Van Cynical, Is Jodie Mudd still playing? He was always good for a top-12 finish.—Kevin Montminy via Twitter

So was Gay Brewer and Bruce Crampton, Monotony. Nice call-back from history by you. I always liked Mudd because he was a normal guy who played his way onto the Tour, one of the few Tour winners who grew up as a legitimate municipal course player. Also, he frequently played the Greater Milwaukee Open when I covered golf for the newspaper there in the ‘80s.

Van Conical, Who is the next ceremonial starter—Crenshaw, Watson, Floyd or Faldo?—Mr. Fairway via Twitter

Did you mean Tom Watson, Fairlawn, or Bubba Watson? I don’t see anybody stepping into the current Big Three format until two of them stop showing up. They’re the Big Three. Watson has never been a ceremony guy. It might be time to retire the tee-ball thing after the Big Three. They have no substitute.

Vans, I assume you’re played Augusta. Your Mailbag faithful would appreciate a first-person of that in an upcoming post.—Michael O’Connor via Twitter

I first played there on Monday after the Masters in the early ‘80s while covering the tournament for The Milwaukee Journal. It was one of my first rounds of the year, as a frostback, so my play was lousy. I had Gene Littler’s old caddie, a delightful elderly black gent and man, could he read the greens. I made a bunch of putts because of him but they were all for pars and bogeys. I got in a second time via the media lottery in 2001, I think, and had a horrible caddie. After he’d misclubbed me on No. 3, costing me a double, and misread a six-footer at No. 5, I learned he was brought in just for the day and wasn’t a regular National caddie. Already six over through six holes, I told my playing partners that it was too beautiful a day to get upset about score and that I was starting over. I played well on the back, holding a 40-footer for birdie at 11, made a couple other birdies and missed a couple of eight-footers for birdies, and then finished bogey-bogey for 35 on the back nine. I shot 80 the hard way, 45-35. I’m on the DL at the moment with a knee problem so I won’t be taking my clubs to Augusta if, in fact, I’m physically able to go. Too early to make a decision. Me and Tiger—who’s going to blink first?

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