Take a breath.
Put down your FedEx Cup calculators, if only for a week.
Destroy those homemade “Impeach Freddie!” signs.
Close the leaderboard page and seek treatment for playoff fever.
The PGA Tour has gone dark, and if it feels like it’s been awhile since the world’s best golfers have enjoyed a bye week … well, that’s because it has.
They’ve been handing out oversized checks for 35 weeks in a row – since the first week of January. No breaks. Indeed, the longest season in sports can sometimes seem like one big sponsor-logoed blur, a months-long NASCAR race without the dizzying side effects.
Hey, at least we needn’t worry about withdrawals. There are still a few tournaments being contested this weekend, just none with playoff implications. Your trusty correspondent, for instance, will spend a few days in the Hamptons for the 44th Walker Cup. (More on that below.)
Take a breath? Oh, no. Not in our never-ending sport.
Here, your #AskLav mailbag questions for this week:
Different points systems, but Jason Day, who at No. 18 in the world is the second highest-ranked International team member, would fall eighth in line on the American squad. Only six players on the International side are ranked inside the top 30 in the world. (The other six have an average OWGR of 47.3.) All 12 Americans are ranked 28th or better. Captain Nick Price has trouble spots all over the board. Brace yourself for another snoozer.
Sure, it would have been fun to see this human bundle of emotion thrown into the Presidents Cup, but Horschel hasn’t been the same player since he sported those octopus pants at Merion. (Let’s hope that’s merely a coincidence.) In eight starts since, he has no finish better than 30th with three missed cuts – or, put another way, two more than in his previous 18 starts combined. Perhaps he was pressing to make the team, or maybe his stretch of poor play was just unfortunate timing. Whatever the case, he should be in the mix for the team that heads to Gleneagles.
No, not a chance. The Ryder Cup has a history of bad blood and close matches. The Presidents Cup has a history too … of being woefully one-sided. The U.S. is 7-1-1 in the biennial event, and if this year’s event is won in another rout – and there’s a good chance that’ll happen, with the International side boasting just five PGA/European tour wins among its 10 automatic qualifiers – it’s time to blow the thing up. Give the captain the power to select all 12 of his players, schoolyard-style. Include players from Europe. Make drastic changes to the format. Do something, anything. Because this Cup is on the verge of irrelevance, if it isn’t already.
How about this: The American team should win. After all, the U.S. has lost only twice on home soil since 1922. But the 2011 event – which Team GB&I won, 14-12, in breezy Scottish conditions – tends to skew the way we view this event. Looking back, that U.S. squad was as stacked as it’s ever been: Spieth. Henley. English. Uihlein. Cantlay. They should have cruised to victory and extended their dominating record in the event (now 34-8-1). But the Americans were crushed 1 ½ to 6 ½ in foursomes, and not even a late singles rally could make up the deficit.
Fast-forward to two weeks ago, and the Americans flew to Long Island for a two-day practice session at National Golf Links. Team chemistry shouldn’t be an issue – not with six players (three apiece) from the University of California and Alabama – but Team GB&I might have a slight edge in current form, if the recent U.S. Amateur was any indication. In the end, the match could come down to the mid-ams – there are two this year, per a new and controversial USGA rule – and how they fare in foursomes, assuming they’ll play in both sessions. The early prediction (subject to change, of course): U.S. wins, 14 ½ to 11 ½.