#AskAlan: Is Bubba a shoe-in for the U.S. Ryder Cup team? How about Poulter?

March 28, 2018

Poor Houston – smashed between an eventful Match Play and the Masters. But here at #AskAlan we never have a quiet week…

Why can’t we all just accept that match play is great for the Ryder Cup and our local member-guest, but doesn’t work for the Tour? You have a fix? -@MikeMcCarten

Yeah, the championship match was a snooze, and that seems to happen with a depressing regularity. In my games with pals we do automatic 2-down presses, and that offers a chance at salvation. Short of introducing betting game gimmicks, the best fix for the Match Play would be to drastically reduce the size of the field, to 32 or even 16. That way you’re guaranteed that the biggest names will play deeper into the draw. But I don’t think Monahan has the stones to do this. Or, if you keep the field at 64, throw out the World Ranking as a basis of seeding and let a committee stack the brackets for maximum drama. Spieth vs. Reed was delicious — who wouldn’t want a bunch more pairings with built-in intrigue?

Since length/defending par isn’t as important for match play, which classic course(s) would be he most fun as WGC-Match Play venue? #AskAlan -Steve (@_SMisner)

So many choices here. Pretty much any course that has different options and angles of attack: National Golf Links. Pine Valley. Chicago. CPC. Fishers Island. Crystal Downs. Peachtree…

Is his horrible Ryder Cup record and failed visit to the 2011 French Open (comments about the people, Paris and whatnot) enough reason to keep Bubba home in September? -@JJ_Slice

It’s true that Bubba stunk it up at his last Ryder Cup, going 0-3 in 2014, but in ’10 and ’12 he was highly effective in fourballs, winning three out of four matches. His game is so quirky it doesn’t translate to alternate shot, and he has looked overwhelmed in losing all three of his singles matches, but Bubba has reminded all of us this year that he still has a ton of game and he should be dangerous in better-ball at the Ryder. And not only is he older/wiser but the vice captaincy in 2016 was, I think, the first time Bubba ever felt accepted by his peers. It had a profound impact on him. He’ll definitely be in Paris and I think will turn out to be an asset. As for his long-ago comments about the City of Light, well, they’ll get exhumed but Bubba doesn’t make a good heel because of his palpable awkwardness and need to be liked. He’ll be fine.[image:14103481]

Is Poulter back in the picture? -Pipe (@FelipeLanus)

He has to be. Europe’s four hottest players so far this year have been (arguably) Fleetwood, Noren, Hatton and Rahm. One glaring problem: they’ve played in a combined zero Ryder Cups. Poulter is more than experienced; he’s a Ryder Cup legend. A universal reaction to Poulter’s run at the Match Play seemed to be, ‘How the heck is this guy in the field?!’ But starting in November he had a nice run on the Euro tour, including a T6 in Dubai. If he can keep finding his form, I don’t see any scenario where Poulter isn’t a captain’s pick.

We’ve seen NBA, NFL, & NFL players chime in about social issues, but there hasn’t been anything from the PGA or the LPGA. Why is that? -Karl (@TheKarltopia)

Well, don’t sell Peter Malnati short – he had some very eloquent things to say last fall on a number of political topics.

Paul Goydos gave me some searing quotes about the sitting President. And let us not forget Grayson Murray’s intellectually nuanced tweets about police shootings or the brave civil disobedience of the 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team, members of which made noise about not visiting the White House because they objected to President Clinton’s tax plan. (I’m not making this up; they eventually went.) But I see your larger point. Right now it’s just not part of the culture of the sport. Note that when the players from the leagues you cited have chosen to protest — by kneeling, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with a message, etc. — they have pretty much always had teammates alongside them to offer support. Golfers don’t have that luxury, which makes the protests riskier, and lonelier. And of course many golfers have conservative country club values and don’t feel there is much to protest. The same can be said of the CEOs that sign them to endorsement deals and many of their fans, so I don’t see things changing any time soon.

With Tony Romo taking his shot on Tour, which Tour pro would be the best quarterback? -Jamie (@hencheese)

I can’t speak to his spiral, but Jamie Lovemark is right out of Central Casting: tall, square jaw, cocky. I have seen Phil wing a football and I gotta say it was quite impressive, so we’ll make him the backup. Who doesn’t like a good quarterback controversy?

Since $8 beers generate so much revenue at golf events, do you think Tour pros would play for less prize money in return for less drunkenness in the crowds and hospitality areas? #askalan -Alastair (@Alharborne)

The problem with your otherwise excellent question is that the bloated purses come from corporate sponsorship and TV money. The revenue generated on-site goes mostly to each tournament’s designated charities. So cutting off beer sales would hurt the local community, not the players! Drink up.

At this stage, it is doubtful that there will be a French player on the European team at the next Ryder Cup. If so and if I am correct, it will be a first: not a single player from the nation hosting the event. And a captain from Denmark. A factor or not? #askalan -Yannick (@Ycochen)

Europe has always enjoyed a robust homefield advantage in golf-mad places like Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. It’s a little bit of a risk to visit France, a country with much less of a golf culture, but presumably all the hooligans from the UK and beyond will roadtrip to Le Golf National. And while it will be a slight buzzkill if the host country doesn’t have a homegrown hero I’m pretty sure the singing on the first tee will be as loud as ever!

Most people work during the day. Why hasn’t lighted courses taken off? Do we need a better lighting system for courses or better courses that are lighted? -@Bsura22

The lights are fine. I think the larger issue is disturbing homeowners. Most courses have houses lining or the holes, or nearby. The residents don’t want their bedrooms flooded with light all hours. And then there are the economics of having a course open from sunrise until 10 p.m. — that takes a lot of manpower and other resources. But I agree that lighted courses are a blast. For the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills the media hotel was across the street from a course that was open until very late. Every night, after deadline, dozens of scribes would flood the course and it was way too much fun.

Alan, does @TweeterAlliss get on your nerves? -@IanOPhotography

Nah, I enjoy the sparring, and he’s far wittier than most trolls. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that Tweeter and I have been chatting about me journeying to the linksland and us engaging a good-versus-evil, Ryder Cup style grudge match. Could be the golf event of the century.

(A) Nicest place you’ve ever been kicked out of? or (B) A short list of favorite articles ever written. Gentleman’s choice. #Ask #Alan -Christie (@ROIChristie)

Since I’m not really a gentleman, I’ll answer both:

A) Butler Cabin.
B) Whoa, this is tough. My stories are like my children, I love them all equally. Though, if I’m honest, some are better than others. So, an non-exhaustive list, in no particular order:

In search of AK

The end of Hogan

The lives touched by Phil’s philanthropy

Trashing the Skins Game

A conversation with Miguel Angel Jimenez

No country for auld men…a madcap adventure through Scotland

A tribute to R.J. Harper, the prince of Pebble Beach

A journey through the pysche of Kevin Na

An oral history of the final round of the 2011 Masters

Rich Beem’s surprise victory at the 1999 Kemper Open (the start of it all)

My summers as a cart boy at Pebble Beach

Crashing the Swallows

Trump Golf marches on despite Muslim ban

Bill Murray’s Cinderella story at the Crosby Clambake

The 1999 PGA Championship game story

The 2009 Masters game story

The 2004 Masters game story

The 2017 Masters game story

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. Thanks for indulging me!