#AskAlan, Vol. 50
With thoughts about Tiger taking a cart, Rickie’s renaissance, replacing the PIP with Only Fans, LIV after Norman and much more
By Alan Shipnuck
Why doesn’t Tiger just ride a cart this week at the World Challenge so he can play despite the plantar fasciitis? @kevinp613
Pride. Obstinance. An old-school worldview. Woods has been quite consistent on this point since he mangled his leg a year and a half ago in a single-car accident: there isn’t a place for carts in a serious competition. Yes, he supported Casey Martin in his court battle with the PGA Tour way back when, but that was only because of Tiger’s allegiance to his old Stanford roommate. And at last year’s Father-Son, Woods signaled the support for old-timers taking carts, noting many of them wouldn’t be able to participate without them. But that’s a hit and giggle. Tiger is proud to host the World Challenge, and he leans on his friends and admirers to make sure top players show up. By Woods’s own reasoning, him taking a cart would devalue the tournament. It also would be a concession to his golfing mortality, which Woods is loathe to make, even at this challenging juncture.
How should the PGA Tour better spend the PIP money … or is it money well spent? @EatandSleepGolf
The existing system is gross and tacky…but necessary. To keep its stars, the Tour simply has to pay them, and the PIP is easy money for the biggest names. This kind of socialism goes against the essential meritocratic nature of the Tour…but the landscape has changed. The money would certainly be better spent funding the Korn Ferry, Latinoamerica and Canadian tours, but at this moment the Tour is doing what it must to hang on to its needle-movers.
Now that he’s back with Butch, does Rickie Fowler ever win again? @KitDuncan10
Well, that’s up to Rickie. Butch low-key fired him the first time around because he believed Fowler was too complacent to slurp up endorsement dollars and wasn’t working hard enough to maximize his considerable talent. Now that Fowler has been kicked around by the game (and marketplace), perhaps he can access a different level of grind and grit. If so, he can have a fruitful second act to his career between the ropes.
Does grabbing lunch at the turn help or hurt your game? #AskAlan @RobFord58
Well, if it’s a hot dog, French fries, chocolate chip cookie and two beers, I’m gonna say it’s a hindrance. That’s asking your body to process a lot of fat and sugar and sodium and gluten and alcohol. Would you consume all that halfway through a marathon? I eat a lot on the golf course, but I try to pack healthy snacks: apple, banana, trail mix, protein bars, maybe beef jerky. At the turn I’m definitely grabbing a turkey sandwich over something greasy. I just don’t want to feel like I have an anvil in my stomach when I’m trying to swing my driver 110 mph. (OK, fine, 105.) Golf is an athletic endeavor that requires proper fuel. Now, for the post-round meal, all bets are off.
PIP might be the worst idea the Tour has come up with. Why not require all the exempt players to set up an Only Fans account and see who does best? At least it would a real competition. #AskAlan @JBShaw9
Hardly! Adam Scott would win this in perpetuity.
Once Greg Norman exits the LIV stage, how would a potential compromise with LIV and the PGA Tour work? American sponsors want a Cam Smith type to draw eyes to their advertisements. #AskAlan @david_troyan
It seems likely that after the 2022-23 season some of the Tour’s top players are going to chafe at the number of elevated events they are expected to play. So a reduction on this front would open up space for co-sanctioned LIV events, mostly in the fall. They would take their rightful place as fun, silly season-style events at a time of year when most top players are MIA — the big LIV money would lure them off the couch. It doesn’t seem that hard to me. Sure, eligibility criteria would have to get hashed out, but this is solvable.
Alan, do you think Europe will ultimately allow LIV players to play in Rome next year? What if Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra wins a couple LIV events next year and has a top 10 or top 5 in a major? Would they still opt to not pick him because he’s on the LIV tour? @bobbytrunole
The courts will probably have a say about this; it is a temporary injunction from the International Dispute Resolution Centre, an independent U.K. body, that has allowed all of the LIV guys to compete on the DP World Tour this season. I’m not an attorney; I just play one on the Internet. But from what I’ve read, the labor and antitrust laws over there are more favorable to the LIV plaintiffs, so Eugenio et al may be able to litigate their way into consideration through a newfangled, court-mandated qualifying process. But short of that, I don’t see any of them being considered for a captain’s pick. Ryder Cup captains are obsessed with camaraderie and team-building. Also, Rory McIlroy wields a ton of power within Team Europe, and he has made it clear he doesn’t want LIV’ers in the inner sanctum of the team room. Something seismic would have to happen for that to change.
Question: Is there any scenario on this earth that the PGA Tour doesn’t give free first-place PIP money to Tiger? Lots of players trying to add value and Tiger gets paid for not playing. Heck, it’s not even Tiger on his social media. #AskAlan @SHistorians
The Tour is obviously beholden to Woods for his leadership and advocacy, and the PIP is a way to reward him. But Tiger has enough money and, given his outspokenness, there’s no way he could go to LIV at this point. So I could see the Tour tweaking its mysterious algorithms so Woods no longer has a stranglehold on the top spot, freeing up money to keep more current superstars happy while still funneling to Tiger a multimillion dollar annuity more or less forever.
With your crystal ball what will be the biggest story golf in 2023 that we didn’t see coming? Well, besides you. #AskAlan @SonofaFitch46
I am hoping to recede into the background in ’23, although it is a Ryder Cup year and that always leads to a certain amount of banter. I’m not great at forecasts, but my hopeful answer is that we will see a return to civility, in which a normally genteel sport reclaims its soul. Who could see that coming?
In 1994, Alan wrote his first cover story for Sports Illustrated as a 21 year-old intern, and in the ensuing quarter-century he typed two dozen more. He has received 11 first-place awards in the annual writing contest conducted by the Golf Writers Association of America, breaking the record of Dan Jenkins, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.