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#AskLav: Rocky start to season for superstars

It was a rough week to be a sports superstar.

Rory McIlroy looked lost in his season debut. Tiger Woods briefly forgot the rules. Phil Mickelson complained that California was too taxing.

And that’s just in golf. In the past week we also saw Serena Williams demolish a racket during an Australian Open loss, Kobe Bryant brood as the Lakers plummeted further down the standings, and Tom Brady’s best receiver’s wife pop off about Ray Lewis’, um, complex legacy.

Rough week, indeed.

Hey, at least Tiger and Phil don’t have an entire offseason to stew. They’re back in action this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where each has enjoyed tremendous success – and where each will be hoping to put last week’s woes behind them.

All that and more in this week’s #AskLav mailbag: 

Yes, it was shocking to see McIlroy give his Nike putter the quick hook in Abu Dhabi, especially after he praised the new equipment during his over-the-top unveiling. But in swapping flat sticks he was reverting to what felt comfortable in an attempt to make the cut, albeit unsuccessfully. The gamble didn’t work, and it only thrust his misbehaving clubs under an even more intense microscope. Still, there’s no reason to suggest that in four weeks he won’t show up in the Arizona desert without the Method. He’s all-in with Nike, remember, through good times and bad.

Not yet, though it wouldn’t surprise to see sidesaddle become a popular method of putting on the Champions Tour if the anchoring ban is adopted on the over-50 circuit. But it will take a PGA Tour pro adopting the method full-time for that style of putting to ever become popular, even if many teaching pros have vouched for the method’s effectiveness.

It’s a good bet Mickelson wanted to do a Hulk Smash after seeing how much he owed in taxes. But kudos to the guy for voicing his opinion on a subject that affects everyone, in ways big and small. There’s no need to apologize for being honest.

We could cite statistics and offer theories, but ultimately it comes down to this: Golf is too expensive and takes too long to play. Services such as GolfNow offer discounted rates, but if you want to play on a Saturday morning at one of the better clubs in your area, it’s going to cost, what, $60? Or $75? Maybe more? And you better carve out most of the afternoon to play, because getting around on a packed weekend morning has become a five-hour activity – a big ask for people who don’t even have significant others or families.

The governing bodies have been researching distance in golf for years, but no action appears imminent. If you haven’t heard, they’ve been a little busy dealing with the fallout from the potential anchoring ban.