#AskAlan, Vol. 13
With thoughts about a stricken Patrick Reed, Big Tony’s breakthrough, U.S. Ryder Cup picks, Bryson taking on actual
long drivers, the Saudi stain at the Women’s British and much more
By Alan Shipnuck
What are Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup chances after today’s news? @NoahWieder
I’m not a doctor but I play one on the Internet. And this is a tough scene. Reed has been battling an ankle injury, now he’s in the hospital with what he is calling pneumonia. Once a shot in the arm for the U.S. Ryder Cup squad, Reed has become a kind of virus that threatens to infect the entire team room. Given all the drama Reed brings, I’m guessing Capt. Steve Stricker was already looking for a way to quarantine his squad from the negativity. Now Reed’s illness has given the Americans a much needed vaccine against having to pick him. I’m sure all the U.S. Ryder Cuppers are going to test positive for happiness.
Which major is in 1,957 days? I pick big Tone! @WayneOW66L67
Oh, c’mon, give the guy his due. Finau was rock solid down the stretch! I can’t imagine a more popular win in the locker room, press room and caddie yard. Quite simply, Big Tony is good people. He has been hammered for years about not winning more, and yet along the way he showed nothing but class and grace. You have to figure this second career victory will free him up and more wins will follow. I’d be surprised if he goes 190 days without notching another W.
Why is the longest drive circus happening at the same time as the Ryder Cup? Asking for an idiot. @MingMizuno
I think it’s kind of cool that Bryson DeChambeau is going to let it fly at the Long Drive Championship. It will throw into sharp relief the chasm between Bryson and the animals who chase distance for a living, just as it would be instructive for Brooks Koepka to stand next to an NFL linebacker. The problem is that DeChambeau knows he will be the center of attention and thus over the coming weeks is likely to tailor at least some of his training and preparation for the Long Drive thingy. This seems unhelpful in getting him locked in for a Ryder Cup on an exacting, windblown venue.
Nordqvist playing in the Solheim Cup and Kokrak with an outside shot at a Ryder Cup spot…is it time to create another team event where the U.S. can face off against the #GolfSaudi national team? People are saying. @luke_peacock
Yeah, it was a buzzkill to see the Golf Saudi logo get so much airtime at the Women’s British Open trophy ceremony. Anna Nordqvist is a helluva player and I’ve always loved typing her name; there is something so satisfying about employing a v where you expect a u. But for any golfer to take the Saudis’ blood money reveals something unflattering about his or her character, and it makes it hard for me to celebrate that success.
When will hospitality tents, et al, be declared O.B.? @ACartride
Stroke and distance is a steep penalty for hitting a ball into a spot that is not part of the golf course design. I would be on board with red stakes but only if the man-made structures are far off-line. Often they’re encroaching on the playing corridors, so even a lateral hazard seems like a severe penalty. I do like the R & A’s solution, which is to provide gnarly, unkempt drop areas so there is a price to pay for hitting it sideways, even if it’s not a penalty stroke.
I would definitely rock ’n’ roll with this scrappy crew! Lotsa game and swagger. A few caveats: Right now Finau and Xander Schauffele are in basically a dead heat for the sixth and final qualifying spot, with Finau having nosed ahead. But if Xander were to spurt into the sixth position, Big Tony would certainly get picked; he was one of the few Americans to display any heart in Paris. There is also the Harris English factor. He is ninth in the standings with two wins this year, both in ballsy playoff performances, which is the ultimate match-play scenario. (The less said about Memphis the better.) I think Stricker will have a hard time leaving him off the team, but it’s not clear who from your half-dozen get bumped; probably Scottie Scheffler, who has never won on Tour, though he did finish second at the Match Play this spring … to Billy Horschel, who I kind of want on this team, just because he is sure to flummox the Euros with his preening. But Horschel hasn’t had a good finish on Tour since the team event in New Orleans, way back in April. You can go down a rabbit hole of stats and analytics, but the biggest thing this U.S. team needs is scrappy mofos, especially if they can putt. If I’m Stricker I would take Kevin Na, who has been on a heater since the John Deere. But for every potential addition—including the ultimate enigma, Phil Mickelson—the corresponding subtractions is really tough.
It has to be Bryson, right? Or Reed. They are the most star-crossed players in golf, so I’d love to see them put the jinx to the test. Things would surely get weird.
Yeah, riiiiiiight, because there is always such a traditional bias against the Northeast. [insert eyeball emoji here]
I have always been a huge fan of Oakland Hills and am dying to see Gil Hanse’s restoration. I think the Monster would be a fantastic U.S. Open venue, especially as the Midwest doesn’t have any anchor courses. But the USGA appears increasingly interested in staying on the coasts, I guess because the blue coats think it’s easier to monetize these events in bigger markets. But it’s the National Open, and I feel strongly it should visit all parts of the country at least once in a great while. I bet Oakland Hills will get another shot.
Would Monty look slimmer in Sansabelts? @jbayzzz
There is not a brand of pants extant that could make the noted custard enthusiast look slim. And I wouldn’t recommend pink polos these days either. But you’ve hit on an interesting idea for the Senior Tour, which is perennially fighting for attention: fabulously tacky old-school clothing! They should all dress in full ’70s attire. Think about how popular the nostalgic throwback jerseys are in team sports. If you were to come across Monty rocking green polyester slacks with emerald shoes, a yellow hard-collar polo and a belt buckle that looks like he just won it in a championship boxing match, there is no way you’re changing the channel.