#AskAlan, Vol. 9
With thoughts on another lackluster Olympics, Patrick Reed crashing the party, the Tour’s COVID problem, a Bryson DeChambeau intervention and much more
By Alan Shipnuck
I would like to #AskAlan, does golf need the Olympics more than the Olympics need golf? @_Qonquistador
I’m really bummed about a second straight Games turning into a semi-disaster for men’s golf. I thought the Olympics could become an awesome tradition for the sport and a way to to introduce its charms to new global audiences. But the disingenuous Zika fear-mongering four years ago was a disgrace, and this time around too many of the top players turned out to be myopic, selfish buzzkills. I certainly wouldn’t blame the IOC if it drops golf at some point. But all hope is not lost. As we saw coming out of Rio, the golfers who actually get the Olympic experience are deeply moved. They wear their flag and train and eat in close proximity to many of the world’s best athletes. For one of the few times in their lives they are a part of a team and treated like a real jock, not a golf nerd. Hopefully the good word-of-mouth will continue to build and in 2024, when the Olympics are in Paris, I would expect all of the best players to show up, because who doesn’t love Paris? They’ll certainly turn out in a big way for the 2028 Games in L.A. Golf just has to survive Tokyo and hopefully the next two Games will be remembered as the turning points when men’s golf finally fell in love with the Olympics. If not, we will be able to declare the whole experiment an unmitigated disaster and move on.
Is it too weird to think the late-arriving Pat Reed can come in and swoop gold at a wacky Olympics when no one is watching? Top 3 at least to spite us? @JustShake
That would be so on-brand. It would also pretty much guarantee Reed is on the Ryder Cup team, which will further vex much of the golfing public. Jet lag to Japan will be no joke, and Reed probably won’t get in a practice round; it’s a big ask for him to podium. But he’ll be running on adrenaline and spite, two powerful fuels.
Still believe 50% of the PGA Tour is vaccinated? [multiple crying/laughing emojis] @BrianF1Man
Yeah, we clearly need a bit more information on the self-reporting the Tour trumpeted a few months ago. Compared to just about every other professional sport, the numbers on Tour are through the roof, and not all of them have been made public, as some players caught it during the offseason or on off weeks and so there was never a press release. Tour players are either extremely careless, very unlucky or highly unvaccinated. Perhaps all three!
Dustin Johnson missed the cut badly at the 3M Open with a weak field. Maybe his W/D from the Olympics was a blessing? Discuss. @JStew68129215
I don’t know, the only way DJ could have salvaged this woebegone season would have been to win a medal at the Games. Unless he goes bonkers in the FedEx Cup—and it’s possible he’ll find the needed motivation, because the dude loves money—this is going to go down as Johnson’s worst season since 2014. It’s particularly stunning because after his record-setting performance at the November Masters, it felt as if Dustin, 37, might go on a history-altering run. But he has been sabotaged by mediocre putting and driving stats and a baffling tendency to make a bunch of bogeys whenever it appears he might generate some momentum. Time will tell if this is just a bad year or if Johnson’s reign is really over.
Alan, out of any living veteran golf pro, who would you pick to mentor Bryson and why? He really needs some guidance outside of his circle. Tough love from Lee Trevino, who lives in Dallas, would be my choice. #AskAlan @forearmshivers
I love Trevino, but now that he’s a crotchety old-timer I’m not sure he could put up with Bryson’s schtick. There is only one answer: Phil Mickelson. Like Bryson, he is an esoteric thinker who always wants to be the smartest guy in the room. He’s also a mad scientist when it comes to equipment. Most of all, Phil has been through myriad controversies and he understands the media, modern celebrity and outrageous wealth in a way that older pros simply can’t. Some low-key mentoring has already been going on between these two, but if I was Bryson I would move into Phil’s guest house Kato Kaelin-style and refuse to leave for a year or two.
A Reed-DeChambeau pairing would certainly get under the skin of their opponents, and these anti-heroes might very well thrive if thrown together. Their games are so different—Reed is probably the shortest hitter among the elites—it’s amusing to think of them as alternate-shot partners … but it could work. Imagine Bryson swinging for the fences and Reed erasing any mistakes with his magical short game. As you suggest, it also eliminates the headache of having to find partners for two very, uh, specific personalities.
#askalan By my reckoning Collin Morikawa is the first major champion from L.A. (Corey Pavin is from Ventura, Tiger is Orange County.) Amiright and what accounts for L.A.’s lack of champions? @PeteViles
I did the requisite snooping and couldn’t turn up any Angelenos who have won majors, which is flabbergasting given the perfect year-round weather, great private clubs around town and the long history of the L.A. Open. But there is a depressing dearth of public courses throughout Los Angeles, which has to be a key factor. More than that, there is not a culture that supports junior golf. Now travel down the freeway to San Diego, where a tribe of dedicated citizens built out the Junior Worlds and various other programs and in the process churned out so many accomplished golfers, including major championship winners such as Phil Mickelson and Craig Stadler. Of course, if Anthony Kim mounts a comeback he could still make history for El Lay.
#AskAlan What do you think is the most prestigious non-major golf event of the year? (My vote is the Memorial.) @War-Eagle1991
That is an excellent choice, but I’m taking the L.A. Open. Better course, richer history, more of a big-time feel and far less irritating milkshake content. That said, the Memorial victor’s 18th hole handshake with Jack is one of the cooler traditions in the sport.
How spicy do you like your garlic miso ramen, sir? @Joey3108
The only thing I like spicier than my ramen are my golf takes.