#AskAlan, Vol. 15

Parting thoughts on the Solheim and FedEx Cups, looking ahead to the Ryder Cup

By Alan Shipnuck

The Solheim Cup was incredibly interesting. Should it happen every year? @robmillertime

Nah. One of the great things about these events is that the two-year gap allows for intrigue and interest to build. In a world of instant gratification, having to wait so long is torture, which makes each Solheim (and Ryder) Cup that much more delicious.

Now that the U.S. has lost two Solheim Cups in a row, should the women form a task force? @BobRoge321

I loved the spirit of this U.S. team, but the bottom line is the resumes of the bottom half of the squad are pretty thin: Brittany Altomare, Mina Harigae, Meghan Kang, Jennifer Kupcho and Yalimi Noh came into this Solheim with a combined zero LPGA wins, and Lizette Salas’s last victory came seven years ago. Some or even most of these players may mature into Solheim stalwarts, but you can’t hide that much inexperience. I don’t think structural changes are needed to the selection process; Team USA just has to get more talent in the pipeline. It would certainly help if the putative team leaders—the Kordas, Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson—played better.

Does anyone, other than Jay Monahan, like the Tour Championship format? #AskAlan @rashley314

I know this is a deeply unpopular take, but I like it. Well, I hate it Monday-Thursday of Tour Championship week, because it’s obviously hokey and gimmicky. But by the time the second round is underway, I settle in and accept the scores for what they are. All this talk about “low gross” is obnoxious. On Sunday, Jon Rahm had a clear mandate: beat Patrick Cantlay. He couldn’t do it. As they traded haymakers on the back nine, the staggered start of three days earlier was long forgotten, at least by this observer. The very obvious problem with the reset leaderboard is if the guy who starts with the lead plays really well, only a couple of players have a chance to catch him, especially on a tough course like East Lake. But at least the days are long gone where a player can kick away the tournament but still win the FedEx Cup, as Justin Rose did in 2018. That was highly unsatisfying.

Where has Leona Maguire been all these years? Amazing Solheim performance. #AskAlan @GuyRWhitehead @dleect

Well, she spent 135 weeks atop the World Amateur Golf Ranking from 2015 to ’18. She won a couple of Symetra Tour events in 2019 to earn her place in the big leagues. Maguire (top) has had a bunch of good finishes on the LPGA Tour this year, including a T6 at the Evian, to crack the top 50 in the World Ranking. In short, she has slowly and steadily been building the career that has made her an overnight sensation.

Why hasn’t Augusta hosted an LPGA major yet? Don’t want the obvious reply. #AskAlan @TheGhostofhogan

I’m not sure what the obvious reply is, but those around the club like to stress that their “season” is pretty short, as ANGC is closed for the summer because of the heat and the winters can be surprisingly cold and dreary. The club has four big member-only events throughout the year; throw in the Masters and now the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the calendar is relatively full. This is obviously a First World problem in the extreme, but the members are leery of taking on another big tournament that would close the course while also compelling them to put in all the time and effort to run the thing. The good news is that, like Billy Payne before him, Fred Ridley is getting high on all the good press for being “progressive” (though we’re clearly grading on a curve here). Payne will always be the chairman who brought in women members. Ridley can one-up him only by starting a Women’s Masters, and that has to be mighty tempting for a man who has so much of his self-image bound up in a green sports coat. I actually think it could happen.

#AskAlan Multiple questions: Is $40,000,000 for PIP too much? Is social media/PIP mainly to blame for the “Brooksie” problems? Wouldn’t PGA better grow the game by redirecting much of the $40,000,000 toward coverage/expansion/improvements of developmental tours? Asking 4 me. @dennis_kolb

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Why can’t we just be happy when golf is on TV? @Gazmkeg

This is one of the more perplexing aspects of modern golf fandom, as a big percentage of the weekly discourse is complaining about the TV coverage. Yes, the commercial load can be onerous and the commentary banal, but I’d rather watch golf than not. And my desire to tweet about the TV coverage is less than zero.

Alan, at what point in golf journalism school do you guys all take the oath that no matter the outcome, the specific rules situation or the participant (Ryder or Solheim), you will always side with the Euro team against the ugly American hubris and jingoism? @fakePOULTER

Bruh, are you forgetting that I’ve spent the last three years in Twitter hell for having such an optimistic opinion about the U.S. Ryder Cup team? But if the prevailing opinion tends to work against the Yanks in any given kerfuffle, that’s probably because they collectively have less charm and self-awareness than their opponents. Who is the European equivalent of Bryson DeChambeau? Patrick Reed? Brooks Koepka? Danielle (“You’re trying to take souls”) Kang? But if you’re specifically referencing the Madelene Sagstrom-Nelly Korda controversy, no blame should be assigned to the American. There is no doubt Sagstrom acted hastily. The penalty may have been severe, but it was warranted per the rules.

Since the women’s game can make use of every great course the men’s game has “outgrown,” wouldn’t all the money spent trying to extend golf courses to host men’s championships be better spent putting eyes onto the women’s game? Maybe golf has moved past the need for male golfers. @luke_peacock

Well, the women’s major championships have been visiting spectacular venues of late, and certainly Inverness is better than any Ryder Cup venue to date this century. I agree with your thesis that petite courses such as Pebble Beach and Merion and the Old Course are now much better suited for the women’s game. I’m not ready to entirely give up on male pros—how about we keep them around for the four majors, the Ryder Cup, L.A. Open, Scottish Open, Irish Open and Australian Open? But everything beyond that does indeed feel excessive. 

You’re Captain Stricker … who do you pair with Cantlay on Day 1? @HofSpillane

The great thing about Cantlay is he has the game and demeanor to play with anyone (except apparently Beefy Boi). I like Cantlay as a steadying influence on Jordan Spieth in fourballs. In foursomes, how about a killer combo with Collin Morikawa? It can’t be fun to play against two guys who never miss a shot.

Why can’t Americans putt? #AskAlan @masmacho

They can … but only during stroke-play events with bloated purses.

Alan Shipnuck

Last week’s #AskAlan >

7 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 15”

  1. Why is it so hard for golf to attract players with a Trevino like personality (with serious game)? Phil fills that need but he’s 51. Do not see a next one coming out of the bunch now.

  2. See you at Finca Cortesin? Never too early to start planning. Maybe I should ask Ginella the best way to get there from ATL.

  3. “All this talk about “low gross” is obnoxious.” Hardly. Name one other tournament where the player recording the lowest total over four rounds not only doesn’t win the event but DOESN’T EVEN GET CREDIT FOR A VICTORY. (The actuaries at the Official World Golf Ranking correct this oversight by awarding first-place points to the guy Who Actually Shoots The Lowest Score.) Ralm starts “four shots back,” outplays Cantlay by three and is rewarded with nothing but a second-place check. So dumb it’s comical. If this is such a great idea, let’s have the NFL team with the best overall season record head into the Super Bowl with a 10-point lead even before kickoff. Rather than start the Indy 500 in a tight moving grid, why not give the pole-sitter a two-lap head start? Same concept: get rewarded for playing well A FEW WEEKS AGO. I fully respect Patrick but he lucked into one win at the Memorial and then another at the Tour Championship. Real season total? Not three titles but ONE.

    1. Couldn’t agree with this more. I absolutely HATE the head start format. Tweak the points format to give the leader the “appropriate” cushion for the Fedex Cup, but let the winner of the Tour Championship be the winner of the Tour Championship!

    2. Good comparisons. It’s stupid — although not as ridiculous as the $40 mil for PIP. The Tour has more money than sense sometimes

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