Van Cyncial Mailbag: Rory McIlroy vs. Jordan Spieth, lefties at Augusta National and all your Masters questions answered

April 15, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Scratch another Masters week.

I think we probably all the agree the highlight of the week was when police sirens sounded in the background and interrupted analyst Colin Montgomerie during one of Golf Channel’s 10,000 hours of all chat-no golf. Monty chuckled and the panelists agreed that the cops were en route to haul Monty away. Best of all, Monty seemed delighted by that prospect.

Jordan Spieth nearly winning was probably the second-best highlight.

Lost in the shuffle of all the news is the fact that those players finishing among the top 12 earn invites back to next year’s Masters. That includes Jonas Blixt, second; Rickie Fowler, fifth; first-timers Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler, plus John Senden and Thomas Bjorn, all tied for eighth.

Lots of Masters queries, thanks for entering the Van Cynical Mailbag:

GVS, On a 10 scale, how badly does the press want Heir Jordan (Spieth) to take the throne?
—David Ogrin via Twitter

Not nearly as badly as you’d think, Ogie, because most of them haven’t figured out that Tiger and Phil have abdicated yet. Once they realize that, maybe in two years, they’ll be grasping for any heir apparent. Spieth (or Err Spieth as one colleague described his back nine) is also going to have to get a little more sizzle into his story to fill that daunting role of Next Superstar. You think the media likes a guy because he’s good at hitting balls with sticks? Nah, they want dramatic tales and gift-wrapped anecdotes on silver platters.

GVS, Did anyone in the press tent catch the Heir complaining about swirling winds in Amen Corner? Did anybody shout Nooooo!
—David Ogrin via Twitter

Yes, and nooooo!

GVS, One more. I saw a glimpse of the trees behind No. 10. They are no longer perfect. How bad was the ice haircut?
—David Ogrin via Twitter

Congrats on being the only person who’s ever won the LaCantera Texas Open and had a triple crown of questions used in one edition of VCM (Van Cynical Mailbag). A surprising number of trees had gaps like David Letterman’s teeth but the course has so many trees on the grounds, I don’t think many fans or media noticed. I didn’t see all of the broadcast but I’m confident CBS didn’t point any cameras at the damage and accidentally show the wizard behind the curtain.

Van Cynical, re Jordan Spieth vs. Rory McIlroy, Jordan has already been far more consistent than most of Rory’s career.
—Brian Rosenwald via Twitter.

Good point but would you rather have a bunch of consistent or two major wins by eight shots? Would you rather watch Matt Kuchar rack up top-10 finishes or Phil Mickelson alternately win and blow majors? Rory had a consistent stretch before the money and the fame fell on him like a wrecking ball last year. To badly mix sports terms, golf history is measured in home runs, not singles.

Van Sick, Can we announce the death of the amateur? Jordan Spieth is 20! And only Oliver Goss made the cut. #BillyJoe Patton
—Chad Rucker

The amateur is dead and, oh yeah, where the hell is Lindbergh’s baby? I’ll bet even most of the attending media couldn’t correctly match all six amateurs in the field with their amateur titles. One asterisk, Ruckmeister — National member Jeff Knox was a playing marker with Rory McIlroy on Saturday morning and shot 70, beating him by a shot. Call Jeff for your next member-guest.

Van Cynical, After hearing about the member who shot 70, I’m curious about the other members. How many rounds do members normally play. Who’s the member with the most rounds in a year, etc.?
—Scott Shavel via Twitter

Augusta National is such a highly secretive club that no information about any aspect of club membership, course maintenance or anything else is ever disclosed to anyone. And just by asking those questions, sorry to say, you have been placed on the watch list and penciled in on the permanent blackball membership list. Your bad, man.

Sickle, Do you think Augusta National will make any changes to the course for next year so it doesn’t favor left-handers as much?
—Dave Kateeb via Twitter

Tell me how the National favors lefties, DK? What, every lefty winner plays the same kind of golf? Yeah, six lefties have won the last 12. Phil Mickelson almost exclusively hits a draw, Bubba Watson usually hits a fade but he can shot-make (hey, a new golf verb!) both ways. And they’re both big hitters while ’03 lefty champ Mike Weir is a bunter. What do they have in common? Augusta National doesn’t favor lefties, it favors players who hit it right-to-left (that’s why Nicklaus always used to work on hitting draws before he went to Augusta). It’s true that more players hit cuts these days because the modern straighter ball is harder to control with a draw. That still doesn’t explain Phil. No, no lefty-proofing. There’s no such thing.

Hey, Gary, why do the caddies in the final group bother raking the bunkers?
—Michael (Mannix) O’Connor via Twitter

It’s custom, it’s tradition and it’s probably a club rule upon pain of death, hence those guys in the trees with the camo green jackets and the sniper rifles.

Any chance they can open up the TV rights to the Masters? That Sunday broadcast was brutal. Were there only four guys playing?
—Carl Lester via Twitter

If Fox was willing to drop $1 billion for the USGA television rights, you’d think so, Carl. But the Masters doesn’t need money. They’re more interested in keeping a network like a loyal hunting dog and making sure it portrays their fine lifestyles in the manner in which they intend and can control. As for the final round, I think seven guys actually played.

Vans, How did the 17th hole hold up without Ike? Seemed to me like it needs something there.
—Kris B via Twitter

Great question, B. While the 17th fairway looked a lot wider without Ike’s Tree, it still played as the second-toughest hole in the final round and the sixth-toughest hole for the week. Who needs a tree when you’ve got that crazy green and those crazy pin positions? At first glance, I don’t think it’ll be replaced.

Sickle, If one thing is clear, the pundits don’t have a clue who is going to win. Look at the favorites who didn’t even make the cut.
—Jim Larson via Twitter

Golf has always been completely and utterly unpredictable, sir, or were you only watching Tiger Woods between 2000 and 2008? Do not bet on this sport. Exhibit A: Jean Van de Velde.