#AskAlan, Vol. 21

With thoughts about Phil’s place in history, Lexi’s ennui, Kokrak and the Saudis, Tiger on the Senior Tour and much more

By Alan Shipnuck

Is Phil actually the greatest golfer of all time? And we’ve just been using the wrong criteria? @jjcoop007

I think we can safely say he’s the most entertaining golfer of all time, and that’s enough. Phil is the gift that just keeps giving. He has turned into a caricature of himself, but it’s impossible to look away. I’m so grateful we had him during the Tiger era—he was an excellent foil, and he always made things fun, even if slightly ridiculous. Hard to believe that for more than three decades he has been at the front ranks of the game. What a legend.

Will Phil’s performance on the Senior Tour (4 wins in 6 starts) either save the franchise or kill it as those already on that tour have no chance at beating him? @wadster13

It is a reflection of Mickelson’s vast star power that we are even talking about the seniors, and therefore I think you have answered your own question. He is clearly the best thing to happen to that tour in a really long time. Jim Furyk and Ernie Els can still beat him in any given week, and I, for one, look forward to watching them try.

How much scar tissue can Lexi Thompson accrue before she says, I’m done with the disappointments of golf and I’m hanging it up? The heartbreak of professional golf is hard to watch sometimes. @LaBeets50 

Just as with Rory McIlroy, I think Lexi should take a year-long sabbatical. Don’t touch a club, just travel, hang out, live life and recharge the batteries and competitive hunger. Lexi, especially, projects a heavy wariness. I’m not sure anyone expected her to make those do-or-die putts on the closing holes at the Pelican, least of all Lexi. I give her credit for persevering despite all the setbacks, but, as you suggest, the toll just keeps accumulating. 

How similar are the courses on the Bonesaw Circuit to the ones in Texas? Kokrak might end up being the Tiger of that thing if they’re close. Serious question though: It’s a bummer to see someone affiliated with the Saudis get a win. How much is the specter of that going to affect how we digest the Tour for a while? @luke_peacock

The insidious thing about sportswashing is that it works. Six months ago I registered my disdain for the Saudis’ encroachment into professional golf, and I have returned to this topic regularly in this space and on the Full Send podcast. But at some point fatigue sets in, both for me and the reader/listener. And the pablum of the Jason Kokraks of the world just further normalizes the relationship between golf and the Saudis’ blood money. We all need to keep our eyes wide open and continue to call out the hypocrisy and greed. Whether it has any effect on the discourse is unknown, but that’s all we can do. 

How great has Steve Alker’s run been?!? One of the greatest stories and a really good guy. Think he made more money in the last six weeks than his whole career. @Elpulpo8888

As Monday Q Info recently detailed, Alker’s life-changing binge began with a successful Monday qualifier at the Boeing Classic three months ago. Alker finished seventh, earning another start by virtue of his top-10 finish. Then he did that five more times in a row, along the way earning his playing status (and $1.1 million). What a cool story, and just the latest reminder that professional golf, despite its flaws, remains the ultimate meritocracy. 

Will there ever be a day Tiger vs. Phil battling it out on the senior tour? @Squizz612

A few years ago I would have said no way, but now? I could see it happening at a few of the big events, if Tiger is able to reconstruct his game. Neither of these proud champions wants to suffer the irrelevancy of finishing 50th every week on the big Tour. They live for the adrenaline high of being in contention, and they’ll never tire of trying to beat the other guy. Realistically, the Senior Tour is where this can happen. Before his car accident, Tiger was probably too proud to ride in a golf cart during competition. But if his reconstituted foot can’t take the pounding of walking day after day, the carts of the Senior Tour might be a saving grace.

Why does the Tour have a fall season? No one cares. @rdpatterson99

I don’t know, man, you cared enough to fire off this question. Is the fall season great golf? Not really. But I will always contend it’s better than no golf at all!

If you could do anything you wanted format wise with a regular PGA Tour event, what would it be? @SteveThomsonMN

A co-ed mixed-team event is a no-brainer, and I have been assured by various powers-that-be that it’s gonna happen. How about a whole tournament as three- or four-club challenge? I would love if New Orleans was two rounds of alternate shot and two rounds of worst-ball scramble—that would destroy some friendships.

Phil is 51 and said he expects to play both the Senior and regular tours next year. Realistically, can he compete on the big tour? @JStew68129215

He didn’t really compete this year, and yet he’s eating Cocoa Puffs out of the Wanamaker Trophy every morning. It’s unrealistic to expect Mickelson to be a regular force on Tour, but he’s clearly still dangerous on courses that demand talent and imagination, which is most of the major championship venues. 

Which caddie could jump on the sticks and not make a fool of themselves? @LiontamerStuart

OGs like Paul Tesori, Lance Ten Broeck and Damon Green for sure. Younger Bucks like Keith Nolan, Joe Greiner and Brett Waldman all have competitive backgrounds. There are many, many caddies who are good golfers in their own right.

Should there be a senior Ryder Cup match with Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer, who are firing on all cylinders, both playing? @BillDonald1

A senior Ryder Cup would be riveting theater. Can you imagine how yippy it would get?! And the captains would have to collude to give us the matchups we want: Zinger vs. Olazabal, Calcavecchia vs. Monty, Irwin vs. Langer, Mickelson vs. Clarke…so many possibilities!

2 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 21”

  1. I always feel sad watching Lexi and Michelle. Too much at too young an age, too many high expectations, I feel. Both woud have benefited by a few more years of amateurism and college

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