The Return of #AskAlan

With thoughts about Homa’s ascent, Bryson’s near-decapitation, U.S. dominance at the Ryder Cup,
fixing the World Ranking, saving the Presidents Cup, Pat Perez’s bona fides, choking in golf and much more

By Alan Shipnuck
Sept. 19, 2022

As a Homasexual I feel Max is poised to make the next step toward stardom. You? @aaw1124

He’s pretty much already there! Four wins in his last 41 starts is a historically great percentage, and Homa has proven himself on two of the best courses on Tour: Riviera and Quail Hollow. The walk-off chip-in to go back-to-back at Napa was special. And Homa might be the nicest, funniest, most relatable player on the PGA Tour, and his good mojo on Twitter has turned him into a fan favorite. Of course, to become one of the game’s keynote players he needs to become a consistent contender at the major championships, where his record has been shaky. Homa did take a baby step in the right direction at Southern Hills, finishing 13th at the PGA. Given his sharply upward trajectory and superb all-around game and palpable confidence, you have to assume Homa will make some noise at next year’s majors, along the way becoming a certified star.

Eyes on Europe: Did you watch the Italian Open and what’s your view on the estimable Robert MacIntyre? Serious point: Does the Ryder Cup have legs? @mikesuff9

I watched most of the final round and loved MacIntrye’s grit and iron play. He’s definitely a contender for next year’s European team. And I think Marco Simone looks like a fine Ryder Cup venue, although the course is not as important in match play as stroke play; at the Cup you’re competing against the other guy, not par. The larger question is the future of the event. Back in 2017 the Nostradamus of the golf beat predicted that the Americans would embark on long-term dominance, and it already is coming true: After two decades of futility, the U.S. has won two of the last three and will be overwhelming favorites in ’23. If a compromise is not reached to bring LIV players back into the fold, Europe will have been stripped of its most experienced and inspirational players/future captains: Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell. Losing Dustin Johnson, the star of the ’21 Cup, is a blow to the U.S., but as things stand, 12 of the top 18 in the World Ranking are Americans, including four major championship winners in Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler, plus an Olympic gold medalist (Xander Schauffele) and FedEx Cup champ (Patrick Cantlay). The average age of these cornerstones is 27.8. The U.S. can fill out its team with young(ish) studs like Homa, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Sam Burns and Cam Young, or wily vets such as Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel and Brian Harman.

Europe has two superstars in Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm and a sturdy building block in Shane Lowry, but after that it gets a little iffy. Yes, Matt Fitzpatrick just won the U.S. Open, but in two previous Ryder Cup appearances he is 0-5-0. Viktor Holland went 0-3-2 as a Ryder rookie at Whistling Straits and was further exposed during the final round of this year’s British Open. The only other Europeans in the top 30 of the World Ranking are Tommy Fleetwood (winless since 2019) and Tyrrell Hatton (winless over the last 20 months). Half the squad in Rome could be rookies.

It will be crucial for Europe to put up a good fight next year. We are already seeing how badly the Presidents Cup has been diminished by LIV defections. If the U.S. rolls to an easy victory in Rome, which would be its first win on European soil since 1993, that will be an especially bad omen considering the existing imbalance of young talent.

Could P#t P#r#z make a cut on the PGA Tour right now? (Ryan French would like to know to settle a recent Twitter ‘argument’…) @cordeiroconolly

Perez’s ongoing struggles/triumphs on LIV have become an unexpected source of mirth. Yes, his game is a little off, but on the PGA Tour in 2021-22 he made 12 of 19 cuts, with a pair of top-10 finishes. So Perez has proven quite recently that he could hold his own out there.

If the U.S. routs the International team this weekend, is the future of the Presidents Cup in serious jeopardy? #AskAlan @BradleySmith328

Sadly, yes. The easiest fix is to make the Prez Cup co-ed. That would instantly elevate it from a Ryder Cup knockoff to a global showcase, especially because international players are frozen out of the Solheim Cup. The strength of Korea and other international hotbeds means the women could help the Internationals bridge the talent gap.

I love golf so much (playing and following all aspects of the game), but I’m just extremely turned off by the state of the pro game right now. I can’t get myself to watch LIV, and the PGA Tour events just seem flat and like they’re missing something now. Am I overreacting? @cparsons981

No, you’re not. The bard of the golf beat, Michael Bamberger, has been podcasting and writing about these same emotions. Naked greed, political tone-deafness, press conference bitchiness and social media trolling do not exactly elevate the sport or encourage fans to invest their time and emotion. Hopefully this weird, contentious year will give way to a little more civility. But that’s hardly a sure thing.

Is choking in golf a real thing? @Steve614

On my bookshelf is a Gary Player instructional tome entitled “Don’t Choke,” so you tell me. Actually, I’ll tell you: Of course choking is a real thing. That’s all Johnny Miller talked about on TV! It exists in every sport, but golfers are all alone out there with nowhere to hide, so it’s more graphic when they are overwhelmed by the moment. Related: Kudos to Danny Willett for his class and grace after a devastating debacle on the 72nd hole in Napa. That was hard to watch.

It’s clear Cam Smith and DJ belong near the top of the OWGR. Should the ranking create an exception of the one-year latency period and consider awarding points to LIV? What’s the right thing to be done? #AskAlan @RealTurtleBR

Something has to happen quickly or the World Ranking will become a farce. Hopefully when this gets sorted out—and it has to get sorted out—the points will be backdated to LIV London so we can again have a unified ranking with actual meaning.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Matt Ginella’s icy-cold take from earlier this week regarding club pros and developmental tour guys. @BurDee_Machine

This year alone I have been the guest on probably 20 podcasts and hundreds of talk-radio shows, so I say this as a quasi-expert: When being interviewed, sometimes on the journey from your brain to your mouth the words don’t come out quite right. Matt’s point was how cut-throat professional golf is, and he brought up club pros’ relative job security to underscore his argument. If he could have the moment back, he would make the point differently, or phrase it another way. But I was proud of him for how he handled the blowback. It’s a sign of good character that when you make a mistake you own it, offer a sincere apology and try to make things right. Matt has done all of that; he is at work on a podcast and a typed story that will highlight the lives of club pros and that should add needed context for all of us. I hope that next time I say something dumb—and that day will surely come—I handle myself with as much humility and sincerity as Matt has.

Have you heard anything from the manufacturers on if/how they intend to market the LIV guys?  Like, when new clubs get released next year will DJ do any promos for TaylorMade or just Rory/Tiger? #AskAlan  @jjgottschalk

We shall see, but so far the endemic golf companies have been loyal to the LIV players. It’s not personal, it’s business: The manufacturers are desperate to break into new markets, and LIV is going to help facilitate that. And while few fans are tuning into the live-streams there is still tons of coverage of LIV in various ways, so all those logoed caps and polos are getting a lot of play.

Wouldn’t it be worth it to the green jackets to give up DJ and Phil if it meant they wouldn’t have to deal with Patrick and Justine for the next 40 years?#ASKALAN  @mikebigs76

I’ll never forget the 72nd hole of the 2018 Masters. I was in the Augusta National locker room interviewing Reed’s adversaries, but as he played 18, I wandered over to a seating area where a handful of green jackets were monitoring the telecast. After Reed rolled in his short par putt to secure the victory, these members looked at each other and sighed. They spoke no words, but the expressions on their faces were clear: “Awww, shit.” So you might be right.

What was your take on the Bryson rope issue, please. #AskAlan @tav190

It was glorious. Run-ins with the rope are not uncommon at tournaments but what elevated DeChambeau’s mishap into performance art was his cinematic flop, the guttural profanity and the exceptionally churlish towel grab. Throw in the Zapruder-like cell-phone footage and we have a Brysonian moment for the ages.

15 thoughts on “The Return of #AskAlan”

  1. Terrible take (by Alan) regarding the OWGR. Professional golfers can read, they can listen and the rules regarding how a new tour can acquire ranking points are VERY clear. The Saudi golf tour simply IGNORED what’s been plain for years and now they’re griping… in unison. Count Cam Smith as one now following the Saudi tour script as he complains that not earning world ranking points “isn’t’ fair.” Huh? Let’s see: 54 hole, no-cut events, no way to qualify, etc. A complete joke. And like the guy speeding down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, The Rules Don’t Apply To Me. The Saudi tour defectors are listening to the clown Greg Norman — same guy that told his legion of saps, “Don’t worry; NO WAY the PGA Tour can suspend you.” The Saudi tour is a farce of a “golf competition.” Two players, Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith beating up on a limited field of oldsters, faded stars, amateurs and nobodies from random tours around the world. Compelling competition? Nope… miles from it.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Do you want professional golf to be run by a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT? Wake the hell up, people…. this isn’t even a real business; it’s Greg Norman kissing up to MBS and his bankers in a blatant effort to suck the life out of the PGA Tour. (Oh, and somebody should ask Phil Mickelson: “Exactly HOW are you worth 200 million dollars to the Saudis? Aren’t you worried that “scary mother-fooker” MBS will come after your kids after you ripped him off?”

    1. you are right on target !! couldn’t agree with you more. each LIV player gets a free bonesaw to carry around in his golf bag.

    2. You nailed it. Also, I would not put it past Norman and the LIV organization to fix their tournament results to aid in a points grab for whoever needed it. I would also not put it past the players in LIV to go along with it. “Charl needs a boost in OWGR points? Let’s let him win this week.” I spent a lot of time around horse tracks and jockeys, I know how it works.

  2. Written to deliberate provocation: OWGR for the 54s? Hopefully its nothing else. Their tour has no real competition. Giving them points is like giving 48 guys a gift. Its too easy to get points in such´a limited field with constant players. Its a pitty that its no teamplay-league. Could have bin fine even without stars.

  3. How on earth do you give ranking points guys To LIV comps? 54 hole limited field, no cut, no msm coverage they aren’t in the same ball park as PGA events? Unless there’s some kind of method to take all that into account..

  4. Agree with the comments on the OGWR. Right now LIV has 6-10 guys at best who on a weekly basis would be legit contenders on the PGA Tour. Losing DJ and Cam Smith were obviously huge losses, and while LIV grabbed a lot of names Bryson and Brooks in particular have been busts so far in the Liv events. Other than DJ and Cam look who has won those events. The other guys you wouldn’t have put on your Draft King line up in the Sanderson Farm’s tournament.

    God Bless Pat Perez, but he personifies what a farce LIV is at this point. I am not a PGA homer, and will not watch a LIV event. The one major positive has been how caddies are treated and providing some sort of floor compensation. I caddied pro bono a few times in tour events, and ate more than a few stale, slightly warm hoagies in the caddie tent, and the PGA Tour definitely was far too slow in making some much needed reforms.

  5. Been a big fan of yours for years. And Bamberger. How you can even think that OWGR points for 54-hole exhibitions with no cut is a good thing? It’s like YMCA sports. Everyone gets a trophy (er, check). There is no pressure to perform. Finish last? So what? Here’s a fat check. Marrying real competition with sham exhibitions is bad idea all the way around. They made their choice. They knew the rules going in.

  6. AskAlan is my favorite part of FPC….hands down.
    Have to echo BENSEATTLE….how do you justify giving OGWR points to ANY tour that does not follow the OGWR rules…..minimum of 75 players; 72 holes with a cut; wait one year after applying. Because a noxious, insular dictatorship throws at least $2 Billion for “competition” doesn’t give it any special place in line. Why? Because Alan and Michael want the best players and stories….as they should. But golf has always created new faces that become the stories….when the Big Three got old that was the end of golf….hardly. Why all the horns sounding about the death of the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup? Plenty of years when it has been lopsided….in both directions. The other side dug down and got tougher and more competitive. This will be no different. And don’t underestimate the value of the extra PGA Tour cards for DP World Tour members….will make a big difference in a short time. As for the LIV players…..they were all about the $$$$$ and okay is that is their decision point. But don’t after the fact start uniform whining about OGWR, TV coverage, “treatment” and the like. No one has changed the OGWR criteria….what is special about LIV that rules don’t apply. I realize rules don’t apply to the Saudis but do apply to their hired help. And from the looks of the “play” of most of the LIV players, Gary Player was correct, “those guys are just afraid of competition”.

  7. The other thing which gets lost in my opinion in all of this is that for the warts on the PGA Tour and there are some, they provide incredible playing opportunities for player development, an LIV is trying to benefit from the decades of infrastructure which the PGA Tour has put in place. I agree that the Tour probably got lazy, needed to innovate in certain areas, and that competition is good, but as David said to give these guys OGWR points with their current format is a joke.

    There is no pressure with guaranteed money, not cut, and golden parachutes to guys like Pat Perez. Golf courses were designed to be played from the 1st hole. What if at the Player’s some of the field had to start at 17 with a howling crosswind? The course and tournament were not meant to be played that way.

    I am not a Norman fan, I dislike LIV, and I know one several of the main LIV protagonists and don’t think much of him either, but the silver lining of LIV is that it did force the tour to make some long overdue changes.

  8. I think one reason Dustin Johnson is Plato’s well is because there’s no pressure. That should say a lot about how “real” the competition is. He’s like Fred Couples in the silly season or on the senior circuit. It’s a lot easier to play well when there’s nothing on the line but more money that you don’t really need.

  9. Has the FPC crew taken one of those generational wealth checks from LiV? Your comment about OWGR points to LiV players including backdating points back to London was absurd. The idea that rules mean nothing and actions come without consequences is what has put our country in the shape it is today.

  10. I suppose those commenting here, unsurprisingly, are all male and probably over 60. That is the problem with golf. All about “legacy”, “history” etc. oldies love that. The younger generation place less importance on it.
    Give it a rest. Golf coverage needs to appeal to younger people. The requirement to play over 72 holes before what you are playing becomes “competitive” is a nonsense. Look what has happened to another world game: cricket. In that sport the “shorter” form of the game is keeping the “longer” game afloat.

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