Gary Van Sickle's Mailbag: Tiger vs. Rory, reinstating amateurs, LPGA fashion and more

Gary Van Sickle’s Mailbag: Tiger vs. Rory, reinstating amateurs, LPGA fashion and more

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the first two rounds at the Barclays.
Carlos M Saavedra/SI

Inspired by my new “I survived the Kiawah PGA” T-shirt, I decided to provide an encore version of the Van Cynical Mailbag. A special tip of the cap to Tweetist Eric Houser for supplying a barrage of good questions to get things rolling.

What was with Rory McIlroy calling out Tiger before the Barclays and saying he’d love to “kick his ass” in a Ryder Cup match? — Mike S., via Twitter
That would be the official kickoff of Ryder Cup Hype Season. The matches are a month away and until Rory’s comment, they were completely without buzz. Now there’s buzz. I think Rory was mostly joking and meant it in good fun. I’m sure Tiger marked it down on his official list of paybacks, though. If Tiger does happen to play Rory in singles, forget about that PGA Championship. My money is on Tiger.

What do you think about Jordan Spieth taking a shot at Q-School as an amateur this winter? — Eric Houser, via Twitter
He’d be crazy not to. This is the last Q-School that can carry you to the PGA Tour, so there’s nothing to lose. Starting in 2013, you’ll have to spend a year as an indentured servant on the Tour first to make the big tour. Spieth can try it as an amateur and if he doesn’t make it, he can return to Texas and resume playing college golf with his eligibility intact. I expect this Q-School to be overloaded with college players trying the same gambit. Why not? It’s a free shot.

Do you think Sergio Garcia, who just won, and Padraig Harrington will make the European Ryder Cup team? — Doug, via Twitter
Sergio is a lock. His Wyndham win iced his spot with his mentor and fellow Spaniard, captain Jose Maria Olazabal. Paddy and Jose have had some squabbles over the past few years. I don’t think Jose is the forgive-and-forget type. Harrington has to win a tournament to have a chance. I think he’s going to get passed over. Hey, it’s captain’s prerogative.

Gary Nicklaus played in the U.S. Amateur recently. Your thoughts on reinstated amateurs? — Eric Houser, via Twitter
It’s funny, he regained his amateur status in 2007 yet in 2009, he took another shot at the PGA Tour’s Q-School. I’m not a fan of the USGA’s reinstatement policy.

Gary Nicklaus played on the PGA Tour and faced off against Phil Mickelson in a playoff in Atlanta, which Mickelson won. Dillard Pruitt, a tour rules official, won a tour event in Chattanooga during his career. He’s an amateur now, too. How’s the average amateur supposed to compete with guys who did nothing but play golf on a tour for years, got all the latest clubs for free and were supported by sponsor money? That’s a huge advantage.

(I know this is a tangent, but are college players who receive $10,000-$50,000 in tuition, room and board, books, golf equipment, instruction and travel really true amateurs? But I can’t win more than $750 in merchandise at an amateur event? I’m not saying they should be considered pros — it’s just an interesting contradiction, isn’t it?)

I’d get rid of reinstatement completely, but if we must, a player’s waiting time for reinstatement should equal the total number of years he was a pro, whether it’s five years or nine or 12. Someone I know recently suggested that nobody should be reinstated as an amateur until age 50. Not a bad idea. There’s plenty of senior amateur golf for the reinstated players to enjoy.

What do you think of high socks on the LPGA? — Eric Houser, via Twitter
Me commenting on LPGA dress would be like Oscar Madison writing a fashion column. The ladies are far more fashion-savvy than I am, so I support anything they wear. Michelle Wie, who looks great in any outfit, could probably have a career in modeling if she ever tires of her day job.