Van Cynical Mailbag: When Will Tiger Woods Return and Is Jordan Spieth OK?

May 17, 2016

Let’s go to the Van Cynical Mailbag and respond to your quality questions.

Hey Van Cynical, Tiger?—Sanjay Iver via Twitter

I like your brevity and your initials, SI. Tiger didn’t give anything away with his comments at the Quicken Loans National media day. He needed several swings to get one over the water at the par 3 in a demo session (although that ball rolled back into the water), but maybe he just wasn’t loose. I won’t make a rash judgment but a bad back and a bad knee are pretty challenging for a golfer. Before, I thought he’d play the Memorial and the U.S. Open. I don’t know his plans but now I’ll be surprised if he plays either one. I hope he is able to but it’s more important for him to get healthy enough to be competitive. 

Hey Cynically Van Man, With three in the water at Congressional, the argument could be made that Tiger Woods is as ready for competition as I am.—Michigan Golf Live via Twitter

I’ve seen you putt, MGL. I’ll still take Tiger for a partner, thank you.

Hey Van Stickler, I’m sensing all is not right with Team Spieth. Any chance Michael Greller gets a one-way EZGO ride to Miller’s Crossing?—Michael O’Connor via Twitter

No chance, Mannix. This is but a mere blip in the road, all caused by too much global travel at the start of the year and chasing appearance money. Sure, the guy should’ve won the Masters, but he finished second despite having his B-minus game AND making a quad at the 12th in the final round. Spieth is not a Tiger or a Nicklaus, someone who is going to play great every time out. He’s not a Ben Hogan ball-striking machine and now that his putting is a hair off, that is being exposed. He’s fine. If he’s still AWOL at the end of July, warm up the cart.

Van Mango Smoothie, Why would we even consider The Players a major?—Klaugh56 via Twiter

Because the PGA Tour uses its powers of sublimation to tell you it is, Laffy Taffy. Let’s see, nobody has shot 62 in a major and nobody has shot 62 at The Players, and when guys get close, they mess it up. Check. The PGA Tour holds this event every year and they still get simple things like green speed, pin positions and firmness wrong, just like at the U.S. Open and PGA. After that, the similarities end. The weekend at The Players exposed it as just another Tour stop with an excessively large purse and insufficient parking. 

Hey Gary, Moe and Curley, Pete Dye said he didn’t want to change the TPC Sawgrass, just the golf ball. What kind of a ball do you revert to?—D K via Twitter

Superb point, DK. Many have called for a rollback on the ball but I have seen few, if any, with an actual practical suggestion on how to do that. Johnny Miller said going back to 336 equal dimples might knock a tiny bit off the distance. The problem with a rollback is that it will have to be technical, so every ballmaker can make the adjustment and still be able to sell their proprietary ball. Making everyone play the same ball just wouldn’t work. That would lead to multiple trade lawsuits.

Hey Van Bronze God, What are the Olympic rules on attire? Is there team gear sans ads like they have to use in the Ryder Cup?—Rick Fisher via Twitter

Yes, the team wears the same stuff. New Balance is outfitting the Ireland Olympic team, an offer that Nike passed on. So Rory McIlroy, a big Nike guy, will have to dress in New Balance stuff. Except for shoes, so he will be able to wear his Nike shoes. 

Hey Van Cynical, Jason Day and his caddie talking about the World Golf Hall of Fame? Tap the brakes on your Brinks truck, mate. Your thoughts?—Michael O’Connor via Twitter

The new rule about having to be 50 to get inducted should slow his money-counting, Mannix. It was refreshing hearing a guy whose goal is to make the Hall. He’s not saying he’s HOF material yet, he simply meant that winning the Players is another item in the plus column on his resume to making it. But hell, 10 wins including a major and a Players, he’s getting close to the lowered bar that the watered-down Hall has set.

Hey Slick Vannister, I’ve been hearing “driving iron” a lot more lately. Is the 1-iron back in vogue?—David Troyan via Twitter.

You are right, David of Troy. Only it’s not called a 1-iron anymore. It’s called a 3-iron. The lofts of modern irons have come down two full clubs since the early 1970s. That is, the loft of today’s 7-iron is the loft of the 1971 5-iron. So that’s another reason these guys can hit 8-irons 180. They’re the old 6-irons. And the 3-irons are as strong as 1-irons. So the 1-iron isn’t dead, it’s just got a secret identity.