AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 04: Tony Finau of the United States celebrates his hole-in-one on the seventh hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2018 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

#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.

#AskAlan How ’bout Finau, Scheffler, Cantlay, Spieth, Berger & Burns for the six U.S. Ryder Cup picks? @brianros1

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.

First the Red Sox, then the Cubs, now Finau has broken the Puerto Rico curse. Is the Wednesday par-3 tournament at the Masters next? Who is the odds-on favorite? #AskAlan @kevin_demsky

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.

Less of a question, more of a statement that I want you to nod and agree with: We need more events at courses in the Northeast #AskAlan @itsnotmybest

Yeah, riiiiiiight, because there is always such a traditional bias against the Northeast. [insert eyeball emoji here]

Can you give some love to the updated Oakland Hills and a future U.S. Open?! Please. #AskAlan @wadster13

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.

Alan Shipnuck

10 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 13”

  1. I am no fan of Saudi Arabia but this is no place to have your high horse. Take it to an op-ed newspaper page. You are not the gatekeeper of what is acceptable. Not everything has to pass some ever changing litmus test, especially one that has to meet your personal standard.

    One of the things that helped end apartheid in South Africa was sports contact. If folks want to take the money and possibly bring some light to the regime then that is okay.

    1. You are wrong about SA and sport. Yes, it was used as a lever, but in the end, the White SA rulers knew that if they didn’t deal with Mandela, they would have a civil war with no backing from the west.

      As for your comment about taking the Saudi discussion elsewhere, I am sorry, but why not discuss it here? Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and Alan has got this right. These people are taking blood money, and so are other golfers. Where better than a golfing blog to discuss it.

    2. It’s literally called “Ask Alan” – I think he has the right to opine about anything he wants and especially when asked!

    3. Eeeeeexcept that this is his site and he can, should and will write whatever the hell he wants to on it! K? Buh bye now…

  2. Yes, this is Alan’s blog and he can write what he likes. His content is free to comsume, but by leaving a comment section he invites feedback. Many times over the last few years he has stated how bad it is that people take money from Saudi Arabia (SA). He just wrote how bad it looked on TV that two women had sponsership deals there on the displayed “logos” were sad and distracting. By his political take he deserves feedback.

    So to a the defenders: where is the acceprable list of countries/companies that it us okay to have deals with? And who gets to be the gatekeeper on that list? And who gets to judge the terms and conditions? If SA is bad then why not the same standard applied to China and everything made there. I would put China’s record on human rights far below SA – its not even close. Or apply the standard some US companies that aren’t so stellar. Lets pick Apple for instance, Google, or any number of other companies that sponsor tournaments and golfers. If you want to claim SA has “blood money” then lets talk about all the equivalent blood money from US and European countries, too – believe me I can find plenty, and give many examples of why US us not universally loved.

    The fact is the world is a messy place and clearcut “rights” and “wrongs” arent always obvious. I’ve lived under military dictatorships and I certainly wouldn’t want to live in SA, or many other countries for that matter. But if someone else is doing business with SA or China, or Indonesia, or Japan (one of the worst environmental records around), or UK, or anywhere else that is their choice. If we are going to criticize that choice publically then we should know the details and circumstances and motivations, which Alan clearly does not know. So after several instances if him voicing his stand on SA sponsorships I gave some feedback.

  3. Gorgeous set of inferences at the end, Alan, regarding what’s really up with P. Reed. Why doesn’t everyone just come clean and say that he has Covid? “Bilateral pneumonia!!??” Wha . . .

  4. Rich – Alan is a smart guy. And a journalist. When you say he “should know the details and circumstances and motivations, which Alan clearly does not know,” you should think twice. Saudi Arabia, at almost certainly the highest level of authority, killed and mutilated a journalist they disagreed with, Jamaal Kashoggi. I’m sure Alan is fully familiar with that act. I don’t know any journalists, or many humans for that matter, that aren’t repulsed by that very specific act and how it ties to “blood money”.

    1. As bad as Kashoggi was (assuming that media reports about the man and events are accurate, which I accept) the US has done far worse, and so have many, many other countries. To single out Saudi and not other similarly unethical sponsors is the point where I say “Get off your high horse”. What the US has done with Gitmo prisoners and drone strikes was much worse – hell, US sponsored warlords in Afghanistan that were raping little boys! Beyond the national level the companies that profit off slave labor in China are worse, too.

      Alan made has made a point of calling out the people who take money from Saudi but doesn’t use the same standard for other sponsors – that is hypocritical and deserves to be called out. Most people would never have noticed the ad, but he wrote it was “buzzkill” and that “for any golfer to take the Saudis’ blood money reveals something unflattering about his or her character”. There he steps over the line. Questioning people on details he doesn’t know about and impinging their character is wrong. He doesn’t have to like Saudi, and I see nothing wrong with him voicing that opinion, but he has gone too far in questioning other people’s character and motivations unless he has solid evidence of wrongdoing.

      If the standard is Saudi money then why doesn’t Alan publish where he gets his money from? Where are the things that Firepit sells made, and is it “ethical” enough? Why won’t he put his character (income and use of money) on display? The fact is none of us can withstand the scrutiny, and he shouldn’t do it to others without solid facts. Also, the idea that sports people have to be held to some higher standard is asinine. I know I wouldn’t want to live under that sort of microscope just because I could do some athletic skill better than most others. It used to be at least lip service was paid to the idea of assumed innocence, but now anything outside of some false ever-changing strawman standard is deemed a major defect in a person that clouds everything.

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