Van Cynical Mailbag: The PGA Tour money title, Tiger's comeback, and the FedEx Cup

Van Cynical Mailbag: The PGA Tour money title, Tiger’s comeback, and the FedEx Cup

Tiger Woods at the 2011 Open
Robert Galbraith/Reuters

Have a question for Gary? E-mail [email protected]
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Remember the good old days of professional golf when winning the money
list was still a big deal? It’s interesting that Phil
Mickelson, despite all his accomplishments, has never finished No. 1 on
the money list. Or been named the Player of the Year. Thanks again,

I like it that Webb Simpson is playing the McGladrey Championship this
week. After months of endless and pointless FedEx Cup points chatter,
Simpson is making it a race for this year’s money title. He
is only $69,000 behind Luke Donald and after shooting an opening-round
63 to take the first-round lead, he’s got an excellent chance
of charging into the No. 1 spot after this week. Would that make Donald
play at Disney in the season’s final stop? I don’t
know, but this money race is turning old school. I like that.

Meanwhile, here’s what hit the fan this week from the Van
Cynical Mailbag:

Gary, I can’t see this happening. but assuming
Tiger’s poor-ish form continues, what will be the first major
that he is not exempt for?

Williams, U.K.

Masters and PGA champions are exempt for life and British Open winners
can play until they turn 61. The U.S. Open invites winners of the last
10 Opens, so as I figure it, the 2019 U.S. Open would be the first
major in which Tiger might not be exempt. In other words, no need to
panic yet, Stuey.

I read this from Brad Faxon on Tiger: “As soon as he makes
playing great golf more important than making perfect golf swings or
making a perfect putt, he’ll be fine.” People heap
so much negativity onto Tiger’s swing changes, maybe
it’s not the swing, it’s his mentality. Do you
think Tiger should spend less time with Sean Foley and more time with
Bob Rotella?


Tiger is never going to let down his guard and tell any sports shrink
his innermost fears, if he has any. That would shoot down his aura of
invincibility (which, coincidentally, the public no longer believes
in). Tiger’s swing will be fine. Maybe he should spend less
time with Foley and more time with Faxon—to work on his
long-lost putting confidence.

Generally I think you are right on the money, but could you please stop
noting that TW was two putts away from winning the Masters? So was Adam
Scott. So was Jason Day. We’re not doing that sort of
dreaming for other golfers, so why keep doing this for TW?


Because a vast majority of so-called experts aren’t
predicting that Scott and Day will never win again, but they are with
Tiger. With his game in utter shambles, Tiger still was in position to
win the last two Masters and even had a shot at the Open at Pebble
Beach. Those with zero attention spans (pretty much everybody but you
and I, apparently) who are trying to write him off should remember

Rickie Fowler’s win, although not as sweet as a win on the PGA Tour, is
still a “W” and it shows that he’s playing well right now. I say that
if Stricker can’t play the Presidents Cup, Couples should pick Fowler,
not Keegan Bradley. Fowler’s a bigger draw for the event, has a ton of
team-play experience (including the previous Ryder Cup), and he’s
playing well when it matters (now!). What Keegan accomplished was
impressive, but it doesn’t mean he’s a good fit for the team because it
doesn’t mean he’s playing good golf when it matters. Your thoughts?


If you’re worried about current form, how do you feel about
Tiger, Furyk and Mickelson? They’re not playing well when it
matters. Using your flawed logic, Fowler might be a better option than
any of them. And Fowler’s a bigger draw? I’m glad
you’re more concerned about gate receipts than winning. Get
serious. Bradley won two events, including a major, in playoffs.
That’s a guy who’s proved he can handle pressure.
I’d like to see Fowler on the team, too, but not at the
expense of Bradley, who deserved to be picked. Rickie versus Keegan
isn’t even a close call.

Is Rickie Fowler a nice guy, humble and interactive with his fans?
Also, when will he get his first win?

Fresno, Calif.

This is why you’ve got to visit more often, Al. I
predict that Rickie will get his first pro win in Korea last week. Hey,
what do you know? I’m already right! Keep up, man. Yes,
Rickie is as nice and humble and approachable as anyone on tour.
Everybody loves Rickie. He’s fantastic.


fan of the PGA Tour Confidential every Monday morning. However, after
today, not such a big fan. My son and I watch a six-hole
playoff, with clutch shot after clutch shot… you
don’t even mention the PGA Tour event of the year!

P. Ford, associate professor, Univ. of Alabama—Birmingham

Matt, Tell Dean Wormer that the event, despite being very
entertaining (especially if you like missed birdie putts in playoffs),
was hardly the PGA Tour event of the year. Perhaps the dean missed Bill
Haas getting up and down from a lake to win $11 million recently?
Keegan Bradley’s dramatic comeback at the Byron? The rise of
Jhonny Vegas? Nick Watney? Webb Simpson? Luke Donald at the Match Play?
Any of the majors? I’m sure we would’ve had a
rousing debate on the merits of Briny Baird and Bryce Molder if
we’d gotten around to it, which unfortunately we
didn’t. Personally, I’m still wondering how a West
Coast event (a 3 p.m. finish there is a 6 p.m. finish on the East
Coast, per standard procedure) nearly ran out of daylight before the
finish. Even with a prolonged playoff, it shouldn’t have been


for the ball marks on greens, why can’t the tour put one (or
two) people on spike-repair duty at each green? When a group
leaves the green they have until the next group is ready to approach to
fix whatever marks they find or two minutes, whichever comes
first. Get a couple of assistant pros or groundskeepers from
local courses to volunteer. That way you know they are
repairing properly and you only need 36 or so for the tourney. Curious
to hear your reply.


And I, Barling dear, am curious if you’ve ever attended a
golf tournament. The next group is usually waiting—and
waiting—in the fairway to hit. There would often be no time
to do repairs on spike marks, which would be extensive after most pros
do their customary 360-degree walks around the cup while surveying
putts. I’m also not sure how you figure you need only 36
volunteers. What, those volunteers are going to work 12- or 14-hour
shifts for the full-field days on Thursdays and Fridays while taking
four days off from work? And how about tourneys such as the Bob Hope,
which is played on four courses? Now you’re looking at 144
volunteer assistant pros, although it’s probably more like
288 since you’re going to need two shifts. Oops, the Hope and
Pebble Beach have pro-am formats, so you have spike marks from amateur
playing partners to repair in each group, too. J.B., I’m
afraid your plan is utterly unworkable. Besides, these guys play for
big money. They can putt over the occasional spike mark… and
like it.

What’s wrong with the LPGA today is that there is very little
vested interest from American fans because we have no idea who these
folks are. How would you make the LPGA must-see TV event, aside from
the obvious
tell the Americans to play
better! Every idea
I’ve heard or read so far comes off as kind of racist.

Groton, Mass.

I don’t have an answer, but golf is ultimately a niche sport
in America with or without Tiger Woods, and women’s golf is a
niche of a niche. Right now, the LPGA is out of sight, out of mind. The
tour needs more tournaments in the United States, for starters. A Nancy
Lopez-like star would help, but you can’t just invent a
phenomenon like that. She has to happen. Maybe it’ll never be
must-see stuff, but the LPGA needs to be innovative. Golf Channel has
no live tournaments to televise Monday through Wednesday. Maybe
that’s an opening the LPGA should take advantage of in an
attempt to get a bigger share of the spotlight. The LPGA also has a
serious pace-of-play problem, which was exposed again at the recent
Solheim Cup. That doesn’t make for good TV and all golf
tournaments are now TV shows first and foremost. A shot clock might
help (and the inevitable controversy would help generate attention).
Maybe the LPGA needs to truly go all-world with some kind of a split
schedule—six weeks in the United States, six weeks in Europe,
six weeks in Asia—and reward the top players from each
section with a spot in some kind of three- or four-event playoff
format. More tourneys and more TV equal more exposure and more
opportunities to create stars. But until someone is willing to pay for
something like that, it’s just an idea.


once more called the FedEx Cup a money grab? Since when is playing for
the offered prize a money grab? I will wager that baseball players in
the World Series will not turn down their money-grab winnings. Same
with the NBA playoffs and Super Bowl. Those extra winnings are nice on
top of pretty nice guaranteed salaries, which dwarf the average pro
golfer’s winnings, which is dependent upon performance. I do
not remember, but I bet you were one of the scribes lambasting the LPGA
for playing a free tournament this year.

You lose that last bet, Ron. The FedEx Cup is a money grab because
it’s about the money and nothing else and because
it’s not based solely on performance. Only 125 players teed
it up in the FedEx Cup playoffs but 150 received FedEx Cup bonus money.
Everybody got a check, even some who won’t be exempt in 2012.
Unlike the FedEx Cup system, no Boston Red Sox players will cash World
Series checks this year. And by the way, Ron,
there’s no wagering here at Bushwood.