#AskAlan, Vol. 48

#AskAlan returns with thoughts about Finau’s latest win, the Phil-Pat Perez rift, Tiger’s new role in the game, Nelly’s resurgence and much more

By Alan Shipnuck

#AskAlan, Tony Finau now has equaled the great Russell Henley in wins. Given your recent podcast discussion of five-win players with Ryan French and Michael Bamberger, is Finau overrated or underrated? @the_agrippa

He was overrated, but now Finau is properly rated: a mega-talent who has learned how to win and is on the precipice of big things. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

What’s the Pat Perez/Phil dust-up about? I read once in a detective novel that, “All crime is about sex or money.” My bet is sex…you?? @Mfurlong

Well, it ain’t about money. In the course of reporting my book on Mickelson, I kept hearing of his rift with Perez, a fellow San Diego native. They have a lot of history. Perez has always fancied himself a Tiger guy, which means he has never been warm and cuddly toward Phil. But what inspired Perez to spout off on various podcasts lately was Mickelson doing something that deeply offended Perez and his wife, Ashley. I approached Pat a couple of times to see if he’d go on-record, but he declined. A handful of players and caddies told me they heard of the incident directly from Perez, but the details are so inflammatory I didn’t feel comfortable putting the story in the book without direct confirmation. This whole situation is still clearly festering with Perez so we’ll see if he chooses to make the details public. If so, that will certainly set off a firestorm.

Chiara Noja wins on the Ladies European Tour. How is someone born in 2006 winning an event on tour? I have a hybrid in my bag older than that. #AskAlan @EatandSleepGolf

It’s funny you’d say that—I recently found a hybrid in my garage that’s at least 10 years old but was the exact loft (22 degrees) I had decided I needed. I took it to Bandon Dunes and hit it so good, and now I’m wondering why I ever dropped it from my bag! But, yes, Noja is such a charming story and one heckuva talent. The ease with which she pulled off the win reminded me of the young Lydia Ko. And Nora’s upright, athletic swing evokes Nelly Korda, who, by the way, made some noise last weekend too. It was awesome to see Nelly win again after this season was complicated by a blood clot in her arm. She’s back to number one in the world, where she belongs.

Who’s on deck for the next round of recruits for LIV for next season? @frazerrice

This is the $64,000 question, although another zero or three will be required to consummate the deals. It was interesting to see Mito Pereira in a photo from Sergio Garcia’s recent charity fundraiser—every other player in the picture is pledged to LIV. Was Mito just supporting a friend and a good cause or is that a sign of things to come? Feels like the latter. Every win now leads to inevitable speculation. Since LIV struck out with Hideki Matsuyama, will it now make a run at a resurgent Ryo Ishikawa? Seems like a natural fit. Beyond these names, I’ve learned to steer clear of speculation because what William Goldman once said of Hollywood also applies to LIV recruitment: Nobody knows anything.

After hearing about Matt Fitzpatrick’s brother’s Q School exemption, I can see the LIV golfer’s side a bit more clearly.  Maybe the PGA Tour is also a tad corrupt.  Is this quid pro quo for Matt staying on the Tour? #AskAlan @david_troyan

It has that aroma, but there is also a simple explanation: The PGA Tour U folks screwed up in allocating points and Alex Fitzpatrick was the only college kid with the wherewithal and/or resources to lawyer up and fight. Now, does the Tour have a keen interest in keeping the reigning U.S. Open champ happy by taking care of his little brother? Sure. But on a different subject, a Tour official once told me that most of the things that cynical reporters and jaundiced fans think are grand conspiracies are really just mistakes/incompetence that have to be corrected on the fly. I think that’s what happened here.


Is Harrington going to revolutionize Champions Tour golf? Discuss. #AskAlan @KevinMKinsella

Umm, no. But Padraig is going to win plenty of tournaments and certainly brings badly needed star power. Because of LIV, the Senior Tour is potentially going to lose out on a generation of headliners. Mickelson, obviously, but also Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, who are all 45-plus. Who is left in the pipeline to bring energy to the Champions Tour in the coming years? I love Stewart Cink (49), but he does not inspire passion like those European Ryder Cup heroes do. Ditto Zach Johnson (46). It’s pretty slim pickings for the foreseeable future.

It seems like the LPGA players playing in the Aramco Series are not being held to the same standard as LIV Golf, even though both are funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund…..what gives? @ScottKirchoff2

That’s because the money in the women’s game is a fraction of what the dudes make; the lucre is career-changing for some of the gals playing the Aramco Series, whereas LIV feels indulgent in the extreme, with really rich golfers just getting richer. That’s not entirely fair, as LIV has its share of Andy Ogletrees and James Piots—young players just looking for opportunity—but most of the focus is on the DJs and Mickelsons, with career earnings well into nine figures. For them LIV is a choice, while the Aramco feels more like a necessity, which is why folks have been more forgiving of LPGA players accepting Saudi money.

#AskAlan: Take us through the alternate reality where Tiger doesn’t crash and wreck his leg. Does LIV get off the ground with Tiger playing 10-15 events and expressing his loyalty to the Tour in every presser? @stege1630

Oooh, this is such a good hypothetical. But let us not forget that Tiger’s back was a mess even before his car accident. His reconstituted spine was never going to allow him to slog through 15 tournaments a year, and even 10 feels ambitious. I think the crash made it clear to Woods that his days as a contender were pretty much over, which helped nudge him into the role of elder statesman/activist/de facto commissioner in the Tour’s battle to thwart LIV. So even if Tiger had a good foot, I don’t think this current moment would look that different.


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9 thoughts on “#AskAlan, Vol. 48”

  1. New LIV recruits is a constant problem and is not going away. But one constant issue, OGWR points, seems the solution might already be here. Rory pointed out at Abu Dhabi this week the DP World Championship the winner gets 21 points and RSM, always a weak field, gets 39 points. One has 50, no cut….the other 144 so have to beat 143 players. Already baked in the system so LIV would get points, far fewer. Why should they get regular points with 48 players, 54 holes, no cut and no qualifying. Rory also talked about Compromise but what would LIV offer in a compromise? They want everything they want from the Tour but what in return? A puzzlement.

    1. Small fields and no cut is the PGA Tour’s new modus operandi. Sounds like a snore, right?

      I recall Nick Faldo saying, that during the 80’s, if you wanted a bigger house or better car, then you had to win! It was the only way. I would like to see the Tour more closely resemble that. A much bigger percentage of the prize money goes to the winner and much less for the also-rans. You don’t get rich making up the numbers.

      The competition would get really spicy, really fast.


      1. Seems like a terrible idea. The whole allure of LIV is guaranteed money, similar to most every other professional sport. PGA has to move in that direction or they’ll see even more defection and fewer new recruits.

  2. I think Batman and Robin (Cantlay/Schauffler) are the next to defect. They’re hardly interested in PGA Tour legacy, and it makes perfect sense for them to go next.

  3. “You just keep thinking, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.”
    “As you wish.”
    William Goldman
    Highland Park IL High School, Class of 1948

  4. In regards to not including the Pat Perez details in your book, there will come a time Alan when you will need to decide if you are a true journalist or a PR man. I read “Phil” and other than the self-incinerating comments by Phil himself the book was pretty much a puff piece.

  5. It seems like the difference between the LPGA Aramco Series and LIV is that the PIF is not trying to completely overrun the LPGA. Pre-LIV, there was the Saudi Invitational and while there were some give-and-take, the PGA eventually signed off on the waivers to play in the event. The Saudi involvement in men’s golf could’ve stayed at 1-2 events held in SA sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

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