AskLav: Too early to look ahead?


No mailbag questions this week about PGA Tour Q-School. That makes sense, I guess. Most golf fans tune into the event only on the final day of the final stage, when players have the greatest chance of self-immolating. Reality TV at its finest.

This week is first stage, though, and there is no shortage of great stories.

Here’s a short one. The 2012 Adams Golf Pro Tour Player of the Year is Brian Rowell, from Lafayette, La. He earned $47,030 this season.

His first Q-School was back in 1997, in Jackson, Miss., and the weather was dreary and miserable, which just about sums up the entire experience.

Now, he’s 39. This is his 10th Q-School. Most years, his entry fee has been $4,500. That adds up. He hates math, for that very reason.

“Each year, I’m like, (expletive), I don’t want to have to send this check in again!” he told me. “That’s, like, 50 grand I’ve had to send them! I’ve made about 50 grand on Tour. So I guess we’re about even then, right?”

Well, no, not quite. Rowell is still ahead. The way I see it, after 10 years, after countless disappointments, he’s still chasing his dream. Pretty cool.

Here are this week’s mailbag questions:

 #AskLav - with Jonas Blixt winning this past week, who do you think should be rookie of the year?

Blixt’s win last week at the Open – and his solo third at the Fall Series opener – made the conversation more interesting, no doubt, but John Huh is still the favorite to take home the award. He won the Mayakoba Classic, tied for second in San Antonio and played well enough throughout the year to advance to the Tour Championship. Incredible regular season for a 22-year-old . . . which kind of makes Rory McIlroy’s achievements, at 23, seem all the more remarkable, no?

 @RyanLavnerGC u know what's silly about the silly-season: the PGA Tour thinkin' they have a monopoly on all 52 weeks of the year #AskLav

Shame on the PGA Tour for trying to protect its investment! No, seriously, beginning next fall, the silly season will be virtually extinct. The 2013 PGA Tour season will end in late September, and then the 2013-14 season is slated to begin the very next morning, or so it seems. Those events are now part of the FedEx Cup schedule and should feature stellar fields . . . unless, of course, those players decide instead to spend their fall competing in the European Tour’s lucrative run-up to the $8 million Tour Championship in Dubai, which many of the world’s best – maybe even Tiger! – seem likely to do. A monopoly, it is not.

Normally, I say predictions are for fortune-tellers, not sportswriters. But since you asked . . . it’s hard not to be impressed with what we saw from Bud Cauley in 2012. In his first full year out of school, the kid had six top 10s (including four top 4s) and earned more than $1.7 million. Expect to see a ‘W’ out of him next year. And it’ll also be interesting to see the transition of upcoming Tour grads such as Luke List, Luke Guthrie, Paul Haley, Russell Henley and Ben Kohles, all of whom are 27 or younger.

 @RyanLavnerGC Based on the venues they're being held at, which major are you most looking forward to in 2013? #asklav

Merion intrigues because it’s the first time in 32 years that the famed course has hosted a U.S. Open. For years, it’s been thought to be too short and claustrophobic for today’s modern game. But Muirfield is one of the best on the Open rota, and the weather there can be just dastardly. (Remember the 2002 British there? Tiger does.) It will be a great test. And then, personally, I’m looking forward to the PGA at Oak Hill, located about 30 minutes north of where I grew up, in Canandaigua, N.Y. (Google it: It’s one of the Finger Lakes.)

What are the common injuries plaguing the recreational golfer and what can be done to mitigate them? #AskLav

An unscientific, highly fictionalized poll suggested these three injuries were the most common among golfers: Separated shoulders, from taking a turn too quickly and rolling the cart; sore knees, from bending down to read putts from every angle and thereby contributing to the slow-play epidemic; and migraine headaches, from playing golf in the first place. Remedies include Advil, Icy Hot and more Bud Light.