Van Cynical Mailbag: Talking Hawaii…from Pittsburgh

January 15, 2014

Pardon me while I play a one-man scramble…

The golf season isn’t official until old people start playing. Well, it’s official. The Champions Tour kicks off this week with the Mitsubishi Electric in Hawaii at Hualalai. Gentlemen, start your ibuprofen.

If an enterprising golf writer played his or her or its cards right, he or she could have covered golf three straight weeks in Hawaii. The PGA Tour started on Kapalua with its winners-only event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, then moved to Oahu for Jimmy Walker’s win in the Sony Open, then on to the big island of Hawaii for the seniors this week. I’m spending those three weeks in Pittsburgh. Apparently, I’m lousy at cards. As late comedian Rodney Dangerfield once observed, “I don’t know why I play blackjack. My lucky number is 22.”

Really, who wants to spend three straight weeks in Hawaii in January when you’ve got to change islands every week? That’s sooo inconvenient.

The Mitsubishi Electric is a limited-field event. Wait, you thought every senior event was limited field? You’re right. This week, instead of the usual 78-man show, it’s a cream-of-the-crop 41-man field. The king of the hill on the senior circuit remains Kenny Perry. Here’s a veteran move: Perry, Fred Funk and Vijay Singh have already been in Hawaii a while. They played last week in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. It’s almost like some guys want to go to Hawaii in January or something

Things you say in Hawaii that you never say in Pittsburgh: Surf’s up… Hey, you want to drive up and look at the volcano?… Nothing beats fresh pineapple for breakfast.

Things you say in Pittsburgh that you never say in Hawaii: I’m going out to get the newspaper, where’s the ice-chipper?… Hey, you want to drive donton (downtown) and watch the Penguins?… Nothing beats a pierogie and a beer for breakfast.

What the Champions Tour needs is a good ponytail. Guess who turned 50 earlier this month? Miguel Angel Jimenez, the ponytailed, cigar-smoking, stretch-loving Spaniard. Unfortunately, the first senior event he says he plans to play is the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl in Wales in July. Too bad he’s not going to tee it up at the Constellation Energy Championship in Pittsburgh in June because nothing beats a pierogie and a beer and a cigar for breakfast.

Nobody ever talks about women’s golf.

Just kidding. The LPGA tees it up next week in the Bahamas at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic. It was memorable for having 12-hole rounds due to flooding. Or, as they say in Hawaii: surf’s up!

Here’s your fabulous, lid-lifting edition of Van Cynical Mailbag. Thanks for asking.

With Accenture dropping sponsorship of the World Match Play (in Tucson), what do you foresee happening to this event? — Dave Kateeb via Twitter

Its future is tied to its sponsor, whoever that winds up being, but the event will likely leave Tucson. Players didn’t like the tricked-up Ritz-Carlton course, which was located way north out of town in the foothills, inconvenient for fans. A sponsor would probably prefer a site in a better media market, but with a February date, the potential sites in America are limited. It’s got to be the desert or Southern California — hello, La Costa? — or south Florida. Hey, the winners-only event at Kapalua barely draws a crowd or a field. Move it back a month and make it the new World Match Play. Another possibility? It’s summer in Australia and moving the WGC overseas would put the World back in World Golf Championship.

Van Cynical, Is there any serious talk of trying to get guys to occasionally play every event? Maybe once every three or four years to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs/Tour Championship? — Kris B via Twitter

Not in this lifetime. Such a rule, which would not be popular with many pros, would last about a week until Tiger and/or Phil said that’s OK by them, they’ll just skip the FedEx Cup playoffs and go chase appearance money in Europe and Asia. It’s a nice idea to support the John Deere Classics of the world, and the best players should, but that concept is dead on arrival for the Tour.

Sickle, what is the best at-home computer program/app to use for at-home video analysis? — Andrew Polson via Twitter

Fantastic question, A.P. The whole at-home/app field moves too fast for me to keep up. Maybe the other four readers of this column can help us out. I do know that Dancing Dogg’s Opti-Shot system for hitting balls at home is really good and inexpensive and you’ve probably already used Ping’s iPing putting app, where you strap your cell phone to your putter. That one is easy to use and really good. Anyone else had a good experience with at-home golf apps? Send ‘em in, I’ll list them next week.

Van Cynical, Do you think there’s any chance that Jimmy Walker says, “DYYYYYYY-NOOOOOOOOO—MMIIIITTTE!” in his head every time he makes a birdie? — Jak Cok via Twitter

We can dream, can’t we? Seriously, that’s kind of a dated reference, man. That “Good Times” TV show went off the air in 1979, the year golfer Jimmy Walker was born. That show probably didn’t have that big of an impact on him as an infant. The Dynomite actor Jimmy Walker turns 67 this year. My guess is even he’s sick of hearing “Dy-no-mite!” from his fans who are still alive. Let’s stick to more contemporary references like Mannix, My Mother the Car, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and Combat!

Van Sickle, It’s early but what 2012 U.S. Ryder Cuppers won’t be at Gleneagles this year? Who replaces them? — Josh LaBell via Twitter

You’re not joshing, Josh. It’s way early. But I’m already penciling in the aforementioned Jimmy Walker. The golfer, not the actor. This might be the year that age finally catches up with Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and they don’t make the squad, which would be shocking after their decades of good play. Also, Bubba Watson will have to get his act together and start playing like a Masters champ again but it’s hard to see him missing the team. Guys who were on the outside last time who should make a run this time are Hunter (remember him?) Mahan, Jordan (Boy Wonder) Spieth and Rickie (now working with Butch Harmon) Fowler.