#AskAlan, Vol. 12

With thoughts on Oakmont’s place in the pantheon, Adam Scott’s putting, Americans skipping the Ryder Cup,
fixing the FedEx Cup and giving up all hope for an ace

By Alan Shipnuck

Is there any chance the big boys will play to different fairways at the next U.S. Open at Oakmont? I’m pretty sure there will be no new trees, and with a packed house and grandstands it would be difficult. @ricmerc21

The ongoing debate about all the cross-country golf we saw during the U.S. Amateur has been fascinating. Some folks are saluting the players’ creativity while others are appalled, as if these guys were looting the Sistine Chapel. I fall somewhere in the middle. If the goal is to shoot the lowest score and/or win holes in match play, why not take advantage of better angles and render obsolete many hazards? These kids don’t care how Johnny Miller shot 63; they just want to make birdies any which way. But it did feel kind of wrong for such a proud course to be bastardized. Unless Oakmont suddenly grows a bunch of white stakes for internal out-of-bounds, which seems unlikely, I’m sure we’ll see some intrepid pros similarly finagling their way around the course at the ’25 Open. That raises many questions about player safety and pace of play, but, again, the pros just want to shoot a score and they don’t tend to get bogged down by such details.

Like everyone else, I think Adam Scott is a great dude, but how many hands would it require to count the number of Tour guys you’d trust less than him to bury one with it all on the line? #AskAlan @hailflutie

Remember when Greg Norman nearly cut off his hand with a chainsaw? Yeah, that’d about do it.

Should some PGA Tour events have multi-hole aggregate playoffs like the majors? Or an extra playoff hole a la the tiny one that Tiger and Phil played in The Match? #AskAlan @martincbrennan

Sudden death is fun but kind of unsatisfying: A player can summon heroic golf for 72 holes, and then one bad bounce or mediocre swing at the wrong time torpedoes the whole thing. No doubt a three-hole playoff is the most equitable way to determine a champ, but it lacks the urgency of sudden death and is an inferior TV product. So I don’t see it happening at a run-of-the-mill Tour event.

If someone in the top 125 can’t play in the first Fed Ex event, does the PGA bring in 126 and so on? @ReggieFrederick

Nope, those spots go unfilled. In fact, No. 8 Louis Oosthuizen won’t be teeing it up at Liberty National. I’ve clearly been spending too much time with Monday Q Info, but I do think the Tour should have some kind of play-in event. Imagine a Monday qualifier at the Northern Trust for that last spot. You could take all the guys who finished 126 to 200 and give them one final chance at salvation in a 75-for-1 18-hole shootout. That would be great fun and instantly mint the one player we would actually be invested in during the otherwise grim slog of the so-called playoffs.

If there was (impossibly) no stigma or shame in skipping the Ryder Cup, which Americans would choose to do so?@KennyDaGambler

Dustin for sure. He’d rather be boating. Probably Bryson; he’s a flag-waver but not exactly a guy built for team settings or partner play. I think Brooks (above) has inculcated the feelings Tiger had about the Ryder Cup during his heyday, which is to say, if you get too buddy-buddy with guys you’re trying to beat every other week between Cups, it diminishes your aura. Of course, Tiger’s brooding intensity was the real deal while for Koepka it’s mostly cosplay. But I think Brooksy would be happy to take a pass and not have to spend all that time getting touchy-feely with hard-core golf goobers. All the other Americans appear to be game, but, alas, the above players are 2-3-4 in the point standings, which doesn’t exactly bode well for a U.S. team that is already facing serious chemistry challenges.

Is Oakmont the best championship course in the USA? #AskAlan @pintosjavi

It has to be. It’s brawnier than Pebble Beach, more interesting than Winged Foot, asks better and more varied questions than Pinehurst, has far more frightening greens than Shinnecock Hills. I wouldn’t want to play Oakmont every day, but it’s one helluva test.

Do you agree with the general consensus that Johnny Miller’s 63 at Oakmont for the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open is the greatest round of golf ever played? @HofSpillane

As an exhibition of flawless golf, I think David Duval’s 59 to win the 1999 Bob Hope reigns supreme. But when you factor in the weight of history, the quality of the venue and the fact that one round crystalized an entire Hall of Fame career, you gotta give the edge to Miller.

Discuss Rory Sabbatini. The guy is 45, wins silver in the Olympics (playing for Slovakia), finished T10 at Wyndham yet nobody talks about him. Is he still not well-liked? @JStew68129215

It was Rorypalooza coming out of Tokyo, but I agree the goodwill was short-lived. Sabbatini reminds me of Vijay Singh: a very particular character who rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but the few folks he is close to are fiercely protective of him. Ages ago I spent the better part of a day with Sabbatini at the Oven, Nike’s club-fitting factory in Fort Worth, Texas, and I thought he was hilarious, but definitely blunt and politically incorrect. The guy has been through some stuff and become guarded with the press and standoffish with his peers. I hope the silver medal gets him to loosen up. He is one of the few players on Tour who inspires emotion in the fans—it would be fun to see him be himself a bit more.

First-ever aces for Chesson Hadley (below) and Shane Bacon this week, Alan. Will you please talk about what you’re feeling with these two big hole-in-one milestones and what an ace would mean to you? @paulkoehorst

Feeling mostly raging jealousy and crushing hopelessness. And those are on the good days. In fact, I don’t even want an ace anymore. I think it would feel kind of empty, like voting a guy into the Hall of Fame after he’s dead. I hereby renounce any and all desire to make a hole-in-one. (Reverse psychology works on the golf gawds, right?)

—Alan Shipnuck

2 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 12”

  1. no question Cherry Hills does not approach Oakmont, in difficulty, but when you also factor in the rain at Oakmont, the fact it was in the nineties in Denver and they played 36 that day, and both Hogan and Nicklaus (an am, true) took gas, Arnold”s 65 has to be right there.

  2. Greatest round ever ? I’ll give you two. Ken Venturi’s 66, 70 on Saturday of the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional. Fighting dehydration, 90 degree heat and Dr.’s recommendation to withdraw, Venturi won by 4 over Tommy Jacobs in the last Open to be played with a 36 hole final. Duval’s 59 ? Please. No one on tour today has the fortitude to do that.

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