#AskLav: Turning golfers into football players


They begin tossing the pigskin in earnest Thursday, which means golf can bid adieu to some of its peripheral fans.

Sure, Tiger’s injury limbo may help keep some in channel-hopping mode for the next few weeks, but it’s football season once Jim Nantz starts speaking above a whisper.

Which is why this tweet from a loyal mailbag reader really resonated: 

Maybe it’s because there are five fantasy drafts on the books for the next few days. Or maybe it’s because this scribe’s chinstrap is buckled a bit too tight. But this simple question spiraled into a fun project: a solid roster of PGA Tour football players who could compete on any given Sunday. Maybe.

Head coach: Phil Mickelson

Scouting report: Rarely uses the same playbook in consecutive games. Wins at a spectacular rate, but has also had games blow up in his face after ill-advised decisions to go for it on 4th-and-2 or try a fake punt. This players’ coach has the respect of the guys in the locker room.

Offensive coordinator: Padraig Harrington

Always striving for perfection, the noted tinkerer isn’t afraid to try new tactics. Unorthodox, perhaps, but has shown an ability to win the Big Game.

Defensive coordinator: Rory Sabbatini

Fiery competitor may rub many opposing coaches the wrong way, but still possesses a knack for getting the best out of his players.

Quarterback: Adam Scott

This pretty boy is the face of the franchise and a consummate professional. After a few substandard years, the gunslinger has taken a less-is-more approach and excelled on the year’s biggest stages. At 33, he’s more motivated than ever.

Running back: Jason Day

The team's workhorse takes a beating between the tackles but always seems to persevere through injuries. Big-game talent and a relentless motor.

Wide receivers: Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer

Impressive three-wide set can stretch the field with its speed, and the players’ leaping ability makes them tough to defend in the red zone. Word of caution: Bradley’s pre-snap routine makes him susceptible to false-start penalties.

Tight end: Lee Westwood

Built like a tank, he’s able to slip past linebackers in 1-on-1 situations but can also help with the run game. Vastly improved chipping technique … on defenders.

Flex players: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

Speedy, shifty, high-volume receivers who are built for the long haul and can have 10-plus years of huge productivity.

Offensive/defensive line: Kevin Stadler, Brendon de Jonge, Tim Herron, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Scrappy grinders who aren’t afraid to get dirty. Supreme run-cloggers up the middle and warriors in the trenches.

Defensive ends: Jason Kokrak, Bubba Watson

Kokrak has the perfect combination of size and speed to overmatch slower offensive tackles. Watson has occasional lapses of concentration, but when he’s focused and motivated he has proven to be a menace for opposing QBs.

Linebackers: Ricky Barnes, Ernie Els, Bo Van Pelt

Barnes, with his football-sized biceps, is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and opponents think twice before venturing over the middle of the field. Els and BVP may have lost a step recently, but they’re veteran ball-hawks who can play in space.

Cornerbacks: Billy Horschel, Luke Donald, Paul Casey

The flashy Horschel can get under a receiver’s skin with his trash talk at the line of scrimmage, but he also has plenty of substance to back it up. Donald and Casey are sound technically and don’t often get beat at their own game.

Safety: Gary Woodland

Don’t be fooled by this nice guy – he’s a hard-hitter who is oftentimes the most explosive player on the field. Plays the pass and run equally well, and coaches like to use his speed as a punt/kicker returner as well.

Team’s biggest fan: Jason Dufner

More than content to throw in a dip and tweet.

So … did Tiger make the cut? Of course he did. But the all-world, do-everything offensive juggernaut, who holds franchise records for yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in a season, is currently in the training room, getting his ailing back worked on. Team doctors hope he doesn’t soon land on injured reserve.

Now, the rest of your #AskLav mailbag questions for this week: 

On Aug. 29, Id fill out my ballot like this: 1.) Tiger; 2.) Scott; 3.) Phil. But that ranking is subject to change based on what happens over the next three playoff events. Its an easy choice now, with Woods owning three more titles than any other player on Tour, but another win by Scott or Lefty would make the race a lot more compelling.

Iron play, since the winner will need to make birdies in bunches. Since 2006, the winning score at TPC Boston has been at least 15 under par. Three times it was 20 or more under, including last year, when Rory McIlroy didnt post a round worse than 67. Those with great records there include Woods (just one finish worse than 11th in eight tries), Scott (three consecutive top-10s) and Jim Furyk (five top-15s in eight starts).

No, not even close. It may seem like more because hes been out for months at a time, but since 1997 Tiger has missed only four majors ' the final two in 2008 and the summer Opens in 2011. Maybe his run of dominance continues in 08 and he racks up another major title, but dont forget he was out of sorts with his swing and in the midst of a winless drought in summer 2011. A completely healthy Woods probably passes Sam Sneads record of 82 PGA Tour wins by now, but he likely wouldnt be that much closer to Jack, if at all.

Seek help, sir.

Mentioned it before in this space, but Id make two major changes: 1.) Reduce the field size at the playoff opener from 125 to 100 players. Then make 80-60-30 cuts. 2.) Introduce match play at the Tour Championship, but ' and this is the important part ' only after a three-round stroke-play qualifier. That should ensure that the best players rise to the top. Then, the low eight qualifiers would face off on the weekend for the $10 million prize. Great drama.

Good question. The trophys bowl shape would make an ideal serving dish for all of #AskLavs favorite snacks, including shrimp cocktail, hummus and pita chips, beef jerky, chips and guacamole, chicken tenders and kettle corn.

Slow your roll! Lets wait until, say, 2023 before answering this definitively, OK?