Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Oakmont in the Van Cynical Mailbag

April 27, 2016

Welcome back to this week’s edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag:

Sir Cynical, Is Tiger gonna break 80 at Oakmont? — Nubinubinubi via Twitter

If Tiger plays at Oakmont, he will break 80. His recent video showing him hitting a few shots at the opening of Bluejack National, his course design near Houston, was a positive sign. He still looked like he was being careful of his back. Even though he filed his Open entry, I will hold off assuming he’s going to play until he says he will. There’s no rush to get back, Tiger. He’s still got six weeks.

Hey Van Cynical, Will Oakmont have a par-4 that plays shorter than a par-3 again this time? — Anthony Cornetto via Twitter

It’s true, Coronet Blue, that Oakmont’s par-3 eighth hole will be longer than a James Michener novel. The so-called “up tee” is 252 yards to the middle. It played at 300 yards one round during the 2007 Open and will likely do so again. Mike Davis of the USGA explained that the hole was supposed to be a driver or 3-wood hole when it was originally designed, so to replicate that, now the hole has to be in the 280 range. I don’t disagree, I’m just glad I’m not playing it for a score.

Hey Van Shanksalot, Is Phil in the running at Oakmont? — PGCusack via Twitter

In 2007, Phil hurt his wrist because he practiced too much hitting out of the thick rough. The way Phil drives it, he should never be a contender at an Open with its tight fairways. Yet he’s been runner-up a record six times. I thought Phil’s improved play would make him a factor at Augusta and he missed the cut. So he probably won’t be a contender at Oakmont unless we agree that he’s got no chance. Agreed?

Hey, Sickle sales, John Daly is about to make his PGA Tour Champions debut. How many wins will he rack up? — The Bogey Train via Twitter

Well, Train Man, the guys who succeed on the senior circuit are usually the ones who played well on the regular tour until they turned 50–like Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer, Jay Haas, Jeff Maggert and Woody Austin. It’s a pretty tough league, actually. Since Daly has kept himself in great shape, works out a lot and constantly practices (sarcasm alert), I’m setting his over-under number at one. But I’m taking the under.

MORE: That Time John Daly Asked Tiger to Get a Beer

Hey Cynical of Van, What’s up with the LPGA post-round hugs among competitors? Why not a good old-fashioned hand shake? – Brian Bailey via Twitter

Are you new to this planet, Bailbond? Women are nicer people than men. Duh.

Dear Czar of Cynical, I putted 25 times yesterday and shot 83. Any tips for getting my putts down to 20? My ball-striking refuses to improve. — Brian Bailey via Twitter

Sure, Bailey’s Comet. Chip it closer.

Hey VanTweetsALot, Are steroids in golf? Is that why guys are opting out of the Olympics in Rio, so they don’t have to take drug tests? Would steroids help my golf game? And can we see your David Feherty impression? – Kirby via email

That’s a lot of questions, Kirb Your Enthusiasm. I’m not aware of steroids in golf. The PGA Tour does light testing. Steroids would help you build strength, which might help your game but isn’t going to hole a putt for you. Is it going to help your game? Not as much as practicing would, buddy. My Feherty impression would be something along the lines of, “Pull my finger.” He likes that kind of humor.

Van Cynical, First-time caller, long-time cynic, but the way things are going, will the Kentucky Derby have a bigger field than the Olympics? — Dan O’Neill via Twitter

No, Neilly Fox, Olympic golf will have a bigger field than the Derby. But after Charl Schwartzel joined Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen as dropouts, the men’s event might have fewer thoroughbreds than the Derby.

Gary On My Wayward Son, We know that Bryson DeChambeau’s irons are all the same length, but are his arms the same length? — Len Hochberg via Twitter

It’s about time somebody asked the tough questions, Hoch As In Stroke. That’s a damn fine question. My sources tell me that one of Bryson’s arms is actually just a hologram. That’s his real secret.