Van Cynical Mailbag: Were This Year’s Majors Too Easy?

August 18, 2015
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You’ve got mail. That’s what the voice said. He was right. Enter the Van Cynical Mailbag at your own risk…

Van Cynical, I like your “more birdies equals better leaderboards” theory, but 20 under? Might as well play Brown Deer Park and rename it the Greater Milwaukee Open, as you wrote. Why did it play so easy?—Bustinpar via Twitter

After Thursday, there was no whistling in Whistling Straits. The wind didn’t blow hard enough to be a factor. It was hot, though, and the balls were flying far and rolling out. Plus, the greens were receptive (gotta water them in the heat) and they were perfect. I can’t remember another major where I saw so many putts go in. Lots of great names up there and it was a great show. Despite it being “easy,” only 11 players were better than 10 under. The GMO would’ve had everybody at 10 under.

Moving Van, Was this the easiest setup for majors for a year? Three of the four didn’t have a tree on the course!—Jon Hardy via Twitter

You’re right, Hardy Boy (say hello to Frank and Joe and Chet and Aunt Gertrude for me), this was the worst year for kindling wood in major championship history. The winners combined to shoot 58 under par in the majors. Jordan Spieth tied the Masters scoring mark at -18; Jason Day broke the all-time majors mark at -20 in the PGA; Zach Johnson and his playoff cohorts posted -15, just four off the all-tiime Open championship record; and Spieth won Chambers Bay at -5. Good winners, helps validate my point about the lower the score in a major, the better the leaderboard.

Vans, You with me—Tiger never wins again or eventually becomes the oldest Masters champion?—OatesNotHall via Twitter

I’m afraid not, Oatsy. I don’t see him chasing it hard by age 47 and I still think he can get his game in order to win again. Look how easily he played his way into contention the first two days at Quicken Loans despite a terrible start? We agree to disagree. Plus, I always liked Hall better.

Tri-Sickle, Is Jordan Spieth as nice a guy as he seems? I certainly hope so.—John Sinclair via Twitter

He is, Sinbad. I have jokingly referred to him as Mr. Perfect in some of my stories and I do it admiringly. He is almost too good to be true. The guy is going to own the world.

Van the Man Cynical, What are the odds the PGA wises up and reduces the number of club pros in the PGA? These guys are great players but clearly don’t belong with the best in the world.—Bustinpar via Twitter

Slim and none. This event is run by club pros, Busty. Why would they want to cut themselves out of their own action? I offered a brilliant compromise in my PGA preview on how to fix the PGA—have a one-day shootout Wednesday for the club pros, pay out $1 million and televise it. Winner gets in the field. As opposed to this year, where everybody got bent-out-of-shape excited because one pro, Brian Gaffney, finally made the cut.

Van Cynical, I can see Steve Stricker winning the Former Humana or John Deere again so I am betting that wasn’t his last major. I would love for CBS to throw out Nick Faldo and have Stricker in the booth.—Tim Clancy via Twitter

The fact that Steve began to struggle with his putter last season was a red flag, Clance, but he’s so good with his short irons that yes, I agree that he could easily play his way back into majors eligibility. Those TV jobs aren’t as easy as they look. Steve is kind of quiet, it’s hard to predict if he’d be good. That said, I know a lot of viewers and media types who aren’t fans of Sir Nick and would love to see him go.

Van Cynical, With the majors behind us, what next golf event will get you excited?—The Bogey Train via Twitter

While the Presidents Cup carries no importance, I always get sucked into the team match-play competition, which is golf’s most exciting format—if it’s close. Excluding that, I’ll say next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Van Cyclical, How come Brandon Steele is virtually never shown on camera. Even TNT virtually ignored hiim. Finished high, even.

Well, it’s Brendan Steele, for one thing. He tied for 12th, pretty good, but with marquee names like Spieth, Day and Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson up there, that doesn’t leave a lot else. The networks all have their favorites though. You’d think Steele might have gotten a little more time. Then again, how often does the 12th-place finisher get shown on a Sunday? Not often.

Van Shanksalot, Who is your pick this week?—Bryce via Twitter

Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth’s good buddy.

GVS, With a lot of guys in form, who’s your money on for the playoffs?—Kokomice via Twitter

After contending to the 72nd hole in all four majors, could Jordan Spieth possibly get back up to play for a $10 million bonus when he’s already won more than that this season? He’d be the favorite, I suppose, but I’ve gotta believe he needs a break. I’ll take Rickie Fowler, who maybe has something to prove this season but honestly, a playoff win counts four times more than a regular-season win and then they reset the points before the last lap. I think the FedEx Cup is a lousy format and I’ve said that since the beginning. Why would I follow along with the points when they throw them out at the peak of the series?

Cynical czar, Does Keegan Bradley still play golf? What the heck happened to that guy?—TheBlochAgency via Twitter

Giving up the belly putter ahead of the anchored putting ban is killing him. He ranks 157th in overall putting and that has hurt his short game stats. He ranks 123rd in scrambling and 172nd in sand shot proximity. He’s having trouble getting the ball in the hole, in a nutshell.

Van Cynical, Apart from the obvious young players, who do you think we might see contending in majors in the coming years?—Lionel Mandrake via Twitter

Sorry, Mandy, I can’t see past the young players. There are too many. Besides the already-successful ones, I see Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers, Daniel Berger and Ollie Schniederjans joining the fray with Rory, Jordan and Jason Day.

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