#AskAlan: Would a November Masters help Rory’s chances of winning a green jacket?

April 17, 2020

This week’s AskAlan Mailbag delves into Rory’s chances at a November Masters, what the Tour may look like upon its return, from the money to the courses to the caddies.

Alan, it was great to see Tiger and Jim Nantz talk about the 2019 Masters win. However, what was more visually distracting: the low-tech feed or Tiger’s pencil thin mustache w/beard combo? #AskAlan – @forearmshivers

I actually enjoyed the low-tech vibe; it felt authentic and very of-the-moment. But I agree Tiger’s facial hair needs work. And it’s time for that patchy poa annua atop his head to finally go, too. Tiger with a shaved dome will look badass, if he ever works up the courage to do it.

Regarding the fantastic “Masters that Never Was” series, who needs it more at this stage in their careers: Rory at the Masters, or Jordan getting any big win? How did you reach the Rory decision? – @reverett013

That was a fun experiment for Michael and me. Writing fiction on deadline nine days in a row is no joke! Thanks for reading it. McIlroy has another decade to try to win a Masters, though we all know the scar tissue builds up over time and it certainly doesn’t get any easier. But Spieth’s slump had gotten so bad the whole golf world was reaching for the PANIC button before COVID offered him a needed chance to reset. So, to your question, I’d say Jordan. As for our fictional Masters, me and Bamby both wanted Tiger in the mix but since he won last year (for real!) it didn’t feel that fun to follow the same script. We kicked around a few potential winners but Rory’s quest to win a jacket is so compelling and he’s a fun guy to write about so it felt right.

Hi. Do you see merit in Rory McIroy’s belief that a potential November Masters may improve his chances at Augusta? -Scott from Scotland – @fyfescott1

Well, if it’s cold and damp the course will play really long, so certainly it’s advantageous to be the best driver of the golf ball in the game today. More than that, if we get an autumn Masters the run-up and rhythm of the preceding months will be unprecedented. The old way of having Augusta be the first major in eight months clearly hasn’t worked for McIlroy so any change has to be welcome.

Rory McIlroy has had multiple great chances to win the Masters, but it hasn't panned out for him yet.
Rory McIlroy has had multiple great chances to win the Masters, but it hasn't panned out for him yet.
Getty Images

What effect will this current COVID crisis have on the ridiculous amount of money the players compete for these days? I imagine companies will be reeling for a long time from this and not be so keen to pay $1 million plus to 1st place when their own employees are suffering. – @dunehigh

European Tour czar Keith Pelley recently sent a letter to all of his players more or less making your exact point and preparing them for the harsh realities of the forthcoming golf landscape. A loss of corporate support, reduced (or no) ticket sales, perhaps the abolition of the pro-am, a macro-recession … all of these things are sure to put a dent in purses. The PGA Tour is insulated in the short-term because of the mega-deal it recently signed with FedEx but every other tour is vulnerable. And for sure PGA Tour players will feel the pinch in the endorsement market.

If play resumed with no fans and no caddies, which players would benefit the most, and which would be hurt the most by the changes? – @Golfingbrock

No fans will be a boon for the Patrick Reeds and Ian Poutlers of the world, as well as any and all of Tiger Woods’s playing partners. Guys who thrive on the energy of the crowd, like Phil and Rory, figure to be adversely affected. The caddie question is intriguing. I would assume feel-players like a Shane Lowry and Marc Leishman would thrive, but it’s very idiosyncratic. The player who would be hurt the most is certainly Pat Perez — his career-long caddie Mike Hartford pulls every club for him!

Based on the Fauci guidelines, it would seem that sports need to be based in one city to resume, with athletes quarantined. Would that even be possible for golf and if so, what city are you putting the Tour in because of the number and quality of courses? #AskAlan – @brianros1

Apparently the lords of Ponte Vedra Beach haven’t consulted with Dr. Fauci, because the revamped schedule has the Tour barnstorming all over the country, per usual. (Of course, this could just be wishful thinking; we shall see.) But yours is a fun thought exercise, and my answer is Levittown, Long Island, the picture of middle class suburbia. An incredible schedule awaits: Shinnecock Hills is an hour’s drive to the east, and there are a dozen world-class courses along the way. Bethpage is right around the corner. An hour’s drive to the northwest are the fantastic courses of Westchester County. And the media capital of the world is nearby, too, adding more juice to the whole enterprise. You could have a full schedule without anyone having to get on an airplane.

Covid golf has forced a lot of courses to remove rakes. When this [gestures everywhere] is all over should they be brought back or left in the maintenance shed? – @Carr4thecourse

I guess I’m going soft but I prefer a nicely raked bunker. Trying to get up-and-down out of a size 13 footprint is not my idea of a good time.

If/when they decide to restart the Tour without galleries, is there a chance they try to go to some special venues which could not accommodate big galleries? Imagine seeing a Tour event at Pine Valley, Philly Cricket, etc etc etc!! – @pintosjavi

That would be spectacular. Alas, the venues are all locked-in for the rest of this year. But if the COVID era lasts into 2021 it could lead to some creative thinking.

Does the PGA Tour have a dress code against wearing face masks? And who will be the first player to compete wearing one? – @HarryArnett

It’s already happened — Matt Every went full face mask a while back, either for sun protection or because he was going to knock over a 7-11 after the round … I can’t remember which. And years ago there was that exceptionally cold Match Play in Tucson when Martin Kaymer was rocking some kind of tunic which covered most of his face. But we all know which hypocondriac will be the first to wear a COVID-inspired mask. It’s gotta be Jason Day, right?

Should we let mom/wife win one round of our Coronavirus indoor 6-hole putting contest?
#askalan – @jamiekutzer

Yeah, I’m facing this same fraught question with my kids. I don’t want to discourage them by crushing them every single time … but I also want to make them earn any potential victory. There is merit in whatever you decide but, for the record, I remain undefeated on my putting mat.

A few weeks before the U.S. Open I played Bethpage Black for $35 … what’s the best deal you ever had? – @scottakruh

You must be new here.

Best round of golf that you’ve seen live where you’ve walked away from it going, Wow, I may never see anything like that again! – @phump72

Probably Tiger’s 65 on Friday at Hoylake. The control, precision, discipline and course management in those extreme conditions absolutely blew my mind. Still does.

Who on the golf.com staff would you want by your side in a bar fight? Who on staff is most likely to have started the fight? – @jackryderparis

I’ll take J. Wall as my wingman — the dude is a beast, as Rory found out when our equipment czar crushed him on the Peloton bike. The most likely instigator has to be Sean Zak. He seems as goofy and likable as a Labrador puppy but dude talks just enough smack to get us in trouble. Plus, that slicked-back hair is a provocation.

What have you learned about yourself in this time without golf? Dig deep, Ship. – @amandagolf59

Alas, I’m not that deep! Writers are used to somewhat solitary existences, so the shelter-in-place lifestyle is familiar. The hardest part for me is having my kids home 24/7 — I usually do a lot of typing when they’re at school, and these days I can’t escape to a coffee shop or diner as I often have in the past. I do miss the energy and camaraderie of being at Tour events and the various adventures that come with traveling but I’ve been a road warrior for the last quarter-century … I must admit it’s kinda nice to sleep in my own bed every night. All that said, I really miss doing my job: writing on deadline at big events and putting together deeply-reported features. I’ve been quite busy typing over the last month but it’s different kind of assignments right now. I’m lucky to have my gig and I can’t wait to get back to work for real.

Can you please explain how anyone could love Pebble Beach over Cypress Point and Tin Cup over Caddy Shack? #CantMoveOn – @SHistorians

I guess some of us just have more discerning tastes.

If I can’t play golf or watch golf, why am I still asking a question? – @kyechsports

Because you literally have nothing better to do. And neither do I, which is why I’m answering your (non-) question.

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