Van Cynical Mailbag: USGA Mishandles Another Open; British Preview

July 13, 2016

A quick trip to the Van Cynical Mailbag:

Hey Cynic Man, looking for a good mid-range odds horse at the British Open. Was thinking Marc Leishman, 60-1, or David Lingmerth, 100-1. Your thoughts? — Erik Rogers via Twitter

Look not at the odds, look at the players who can win. Would you rather bet the horse that wins at even odds or the horse that loses but went off at 500-1 odds? It’s about picking the winner. Golf, and the Open Championship in particular, are completely unpredictable. See Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton for details. Betting golf at a site that gets used once a decade and is going to have unpredictable winds is a fool’s errand. Also, there’s no wagering at Bushwood. Lingmerth hits it straight — that works anywhere.

Hey Van Cynical, Paul McGinley on why golf in Olympics is good mentioned the government of Ghana funding golf first. Why is that good? — Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

It’s vital, Drake, because who else is going to pay for the TPC at Ghana if not the Ghana Olympic Committee? The Ghana government certainly wasn’t “ghana.”

Van Spin Cycle, after watching the press conferences, I still have no idea why we’re supposed to care about golf in the Olympics. — Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

You can’t fool me, Rory, by sending this Tweet under this obviously fake name. But yeah, I agree.

Hey Van Cynical, The rules violation in the U.S. Women’s Open playoff was handled in the usual “awkward” style of the USGA but to me it was only third place in the “my bad” category. One, USGA president Diana Murphy never heard of Brittany Lang, Scott Piercy, or Old Tom Morris. How could she botch the name of the U.S. Open champion after botching the name of men’s runner-up Piercy at Oakmont? Two, the playing time for the last group (with Lydia Ko) was 5 hours 45 minutes… with no penalty! What happened to ‘While we are young?’ Three, Sure, Nordquist grounding her club in the bunker. — Name withheld by request via email

The USGA has never done anything that effectively reduces slow play — their tournament setups cause quite the opposite, in fact. That ‘While We’re Young’ ad campaign was a waste of money. The USGA tells everyone to play faster but doesn’t tell them how. After Oakmont, you figured Murphy would triple-check the pronunciations of the names but apparently not. I’d put letting Lang know about the penalty before she played her third shot to the par 5, after Nordquist played hers without knowing, as the No. 3 mistake, ahead of the penalty itself.

VanFireCracker, what the heck is going on? We had two U.S. Opens marred by rulings. What did you think of a two-stroke penalty for having a super-slo-mo replay? I’m afraid to ask what’s next… but what’s next? — Klaugh via email

At Oakmont, I wondered why it’s a penalty if your ball moves on a putting surface and you didn’t touch it and recommended that rule be changed for simplicity and fairness. At the Women’s Open, I wonder why it’s a two-shot penalty for bumping a couple grains of sand. A one-shot penalty wouldn’t be strong enough? Those are two rules, among others, that ought to be reconsidered. What’s next? The USGA won’t reconsider either one, that’s my prediction.

Hey Sick man, how far above the sand do you hold the club at address? Closer to one half-inch than a millimeter, I bet. — David Troyan via Twitter

Technically, David of Troy, I hold my foot a good full inch above the ball before I kick it out.

Van Cynical, I was not a fan of allowing a player to identify a ball in a hazard, but once the rules allowed that, let ’em ground their clubs, too. — Ron Read via Twitter

That’s a subtle connection I haven’t heard anyone bring up before, Ron, and it’s a valid one. Two bonus points for you. Well done. The rules wonks will freak out over that suggestion but I like it.

Van Cynical, what are the odds of the USGA sending a memo to Fox demanding no zoom-in closeups on Bernhard Langer’s putter grip at Senior Open? — Rick Fisher via Twitter

The odds are better that they’ll have one of their own deputies watching on every green to make sure he’s not anchoring, Fishmonger. Because the anchoring ban, that’s the rules change that’s going to save golf and make it popular again.