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Tiger Woods, the Safeway Open and More in the Van Cynical Mailbag

October 12, 2016

It looks like we’re back to the one name we never stop talking about, Tiger Woods. He got us all fired up about returning to golf in the Safeway Open this week and then did a hokey pokey on Monday, pulling out and saying he felt “vulnerable” and that his game wasn’t ready.

He also said he would not play the Turkish Airlines Open, either, so we probably won’t see him competing before December, at the earliest. What is Tiger’s future? Let’s go to the Van Cynical Mailbag:

Hey Van Cynical, I’m a big Tiger fan. He’s ready Friday but not three days later? Have some respect for the PGA Tour, the tourney organizers, Johnny Miller, paying fans. Thoughts? — Len Hochberg

Tiger is obligated to play this tournament, IceBerg. He got a release to play in Turkey two years ago with the condition that he play the Frys.com Open (now Safeway) the following year. He was out with back surgery and couldn’t play last year. So he hoped to play, probably wanted to play, thought he could play on Friday and by Monday realized his game wasn’t ready for primetime. When you’re TW, the standard is higher. He doesn’t want to embarrass himself. I get that. But also, he owes Safeway one and that was probably part of his initial desire to play.

Sickmeister, I would like your opinion on why Tiger would commit and de-commit within three days. I get if he is not ready, but timing is odd. — CMK

I’ll go with the buffet theory, Cape Kennedy. He couldn’t finish everything he put on his plate. Tiger thought he could play but upon further review, and practice, he had a problem, Houston.

Van Cyclical, he had a problem before on chipping. Could be Tiger doesn’t trust not doing it again (chip-yips) in competition. — BlackScorpionCowboy

That is a possibility, Black Cow. I forget whose quote it was on the yips: “Once you’ve got ‘em, you’ve got ‘em.”

Hey Sickle of Life, it’s obviously in his head now so the only correct answer regarding his future is probably, never. #sad — Marty Knowles

That’s a dismaying possibility, Knowles-it-all. The knees did in Joe Namath. A bad back was the beginning of the end of David Duval. Tiger could be in this category.


Hey Van Cynical, Tiger needs to think about a career in broadcasting. He’s done. Or work on his game for the Champions Tour! — Dave

When Tiger visited the booth for last year’s Quicken Loans National, he wasn’t bad. Nobody was less of a people person than Nick Faldo and now he anchors the CBS tower with Jim Nantz. Tiger might be able to pull that off if he wanted. The Champions Tour is nine years away for Tiger. It might survive until he’s eligible.

Hey Hammer & Sickle, does Tiger even have a PGA Tour future? — Gary Rind

We’ve got to see him in action first before we can count him out, Grinder. Three back procedures makes me a doubter that he can come back but Tiger was the fittest man on tour before that. I never write him off in any endeavor.

Sick Man, Tiger gives it a shot at the Masters and if he can’t compete or make the cut, he retires. — Jimmy LeCorpse via Twitter

That’s a bold call, Jimmy Crack Corpse. I think he’ll know before March whether he’s got enough game to keep going.

Hey Van Cynical, do you think Tiger wants to rejoin the game in theory only or does he actually want to compete? — David Troyan

There’s no substitute for competing, Troyan Horse. It’s an adrenaline rush and Tiger clearly relished that part of golf. He wants to play golf the way he used to, and compete. I think he’s still trying to figure out what his body is capable of, golf-wise. Also, that thing about winning 79 times? It’s kinda fun.

Hey Van Cynical, in the history of the world, how many Tiger Woods questions have you answered? — Brian Bailey

I have been asked thousands of Tiger questions, Beetle Bailey. Actually answered correctly? At least six.

Hey Van Swingsalot, does Tiger even consider the Champions Tour a fallback (har!) position? Even Jack won some senior tourneys. — Al Pindara

Thanks for the effort, Pun-dara. The PGA Tour reportedly props up the senior circuit to the tune of $20 million-plus per year. With a lack of star power, can it keep going nine more years until Tiger is eligible, assuming he’d even be willing to play? If TW can’t compete now, he’s not coming back as a senior. Jack played sparingly, just majors or tournaments played on courses he designed.

Hey Van Cynical, I give Tiger a couple more years of making the playoffs. He wins now and again and one more major—an Open or maybe Augusta. — Eric Houser

I like your optimism in the face of all these cynics, House Money. How much better would golf be in the next five years if you are correct? Way, way better.

Hey Ice Sickle, do your instincts say it’s related to chipping or just not wanting to post a pair of 77s? — Rick Fisher

I’ll go with the 77s Fishmonger. Video of him swinging at an outing Monday in Monterey showed him not taking a very hard cut at a metal-headed club. Is that all he’s got or was he just being careful? It’s one thing to be ready to golf with your buddies (if you have any). It’s another thing to compete at the highest level.

Hey Van Cynical, I’ve given up on Tiger. — Sanjay Iyer

All right but remember, there is no re-admittance to the bandwagon once you jump off, SI.

Hey Sicks, more and more, Tiger resembles Axl Rose—a recluse chased from his own life. — Turtle Trader

Axl Rose? How about a musical reference a little more contemporary, Donatello? Like Pat Boone, Dion or Van Morrison?

Hey Van Cynical, What about the PGA Tour canceling the last event in the Web.com qualifying series? — Eric Houser

A lot of players got a raw deal but that said, you can’t predict hurricanes. Still, with the 2017 season teeing it up this week, that last event should’ve been played the week before even though it would’ve been up against the Ryder Cup. I realize some TV contracts may have made that impossible. Rainouts happen. But the tourney couldn’t have moved to TPC Tampa or somewhere? Oh, right. That would’ve cost money. 

Hey Sir Vanselot, who’s going to break out this season that we don’t know yet but soon will love? — Jamie Kutzer

This Wesley Bryan won a battlefield promotion on the Web.com Tour—three wins. That says player, Kutzmananoff. Bryson DeChambeau got a card. He’s got that unique club setup—all his irons are the same length. He’s also hinted about breaking out sidesaddle putting, a topic I’ve written about several times as a potential better way to putt. I can’t wait to see it.