Van Cynical Mailbag: What’s the Best Non-Major Tournament to Cover?

September 30, 2015

CHASKA, Minn. — Even though I was in and out of the Land of Ten Kajillion Lakes and Mosquitoes quickly for a Ryder Cup news conference at Hazeltine National, the magic of the Internet (only $6.95 a night at the Marriott Courtyard) enabled me to put together a Minnesota-based edition of the Van Cynical Mailbag…

Hey G-Unit, nice win for Jordan Spieth. But if the PGA Tour crowns a FedEx Cup champion and no one is around to see it, did it really happen? — Bustinpar via Twitter

I can’t explain it, Bust-size, but Atlanta fans turned out in droves (I think those are some kind of trucks or something) to watch the Tour Championship at East Lake. It was nuts, especially because it was rainy three of the days and because Atlanta has a reputation for being a bad town for fans. Now, a lot of that rep might be because the baseball and basketball stadiums are downtown and people aren’t enthused about being there after dark, or more likely they’re sick of fighting Atlanta’s awful highway traffic. Still, they came to East Lake and waded around in the muck and quagmire like it was a good idea or something. I was impressed with the turnout. The Tour Championship a few years ago didn’t always have very good attendance.

Van Shanksalot, I heard you on the Ryder Cup press conference at Hazeltine. Quit asking softball questions. C’mon, man! — KLaugh56 via Twitter

On the contrary, Laughoutloud, I asked a golf question and got two pretty good answers from captains Davis Love and Darren Clarke. I’m not interested in softball (other than wondering why sexist men force women to play underhand-pitch ball and use Little-League length bases when it’s pretty obvious women could play actual baseball if we only let them) and I’m confident Love and Clarke aren’t, either. I was going to ask a bowling question but I couldn’t get the microphone back. Now we’ll never know Love’s thoughts on whether he uses a different ball on his second shot to pick up a spare. Dang.

Sicklemania, Which tournaments, non-major division, do you most enjoy covering every year? — David Troyan via Twitter

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is at the top of the list. It’s always a riot with big crowds and low scores and an exciting atmosphere. Also, when you live in Pittsburgh, Scottsdale is just about the best place you can go in February. Other nominees include the Valspar Championship (Innisbrook is a course I enjoy walking, plus the player locker room is down the hall from the media pressroom); AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (the tourney logistics are awful, but walking Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula is a privilege); John Deere Classic (the most loyal and supportive fans on Tour); and Colonial (a taste of Hogan and Texas pride).

Hey En-Sickle-o-pedia, Starting now, who’s going to win the most majors in the next two decades: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth or Jason Day? — Douglas86 via email

I have no idea, Dugout. But I hope they each get a dozen more. How good would that be?

Hey Vans, Thank you for a great golf season. It was fun bantering with you and reading your insight into my golf questions. — BigMark via Twitter

Where you going, BM? As the poet Jimmy Buffet noted, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” And thus, it’s golf season somewhere. The Van Cynical Mailbag will continue to receive brilliant missives like yours 12 months a year. Don’t quit on me now, and more importantly, don’t quit on yourself. Never give up, never surrender. Uh, unless you just had a second back surgery.

Hey Van Cynical, I have eight golf balls left in my bag. How many more rounds am I playing this year before snow hits? — Brian Bailey via Twitter

I’ve got my slide rule out for this one, Bailbond. I don’t know your handicap but no doubt you’ve made sure it’s several shots higher than it should be. I respect that. I don’t know where you live. I was in Minneapolis early this week and Wednesday morning’s low was supposed to be in the low 40s. I would have to estimate how many other balls you may accidentally find in the leaves, assuming you don’t live in Tasmania, where it’s now spring. Plus, I don’t know which courses you’re going to play. If you’re doing Condo-ball in Florida with lots of water hazards, it’s one thing, but if you’re doing a West Texas flat muni-layout with no rough, it’s another. With all these items factored in by estimate, my guess is that you’ve got enough ammo to play approximately 14 more holes. (The title of this column is Cynical, ya know.) Play hard, man. We’re with you. (Noonan!)

Van Cynical, How many live shots are actually shown live on PGA Tour coverage? I think none. — Pete Carney via Twitter

That’s a pretty good guess, Carnivore, but a little low. I can’t give you an accurate number, but you’re right, the number of shots that are actually shown live and not on delay is a much lower number than most viewers think. It’s easy to spot the cheating when the cameras suddenly go to Joe Shlabotnik on the 14th hole, and he hasn’t been in contention or on TV all day. If it’s a full shot, he either hits it really close, jars it or dumps it in the water. If it’s a putt, he either makes it or four-putts. While this may seem annoying, on the other hand it allows TV to present more shots that are compelling and fewer shots that aren’t relevant. So I don’t begrudge them, I just wish they’d own up to the replays when they show them.