In his #AskAlan column this week, Fire Pit Collective Senior Writer Alan Shipnuck brings his thoughts on Homa’s rise, Bryson’s near decapitation, US Ryder Cup dominance, world ranking fixation, Presidents Cup salvation, Pat Perez’s good faith, suffocating in the Gulf and more.
I believe Max Homa is ready to take the next step towards fame. You? @aaw1124
He’s pretty much there already! Four wins in his last 41 starts is an all-time high percentage, and Homa has proven himself on two of the Tour’s best courses: Riviera and Quail Hollow. The walk-off chip-in to go back-to-back in Napa was special. And Homa may be the nicest, funniest, most well-known player on the PGA Tour, and his good mojo on Twitter has made him a fan favorite. Of course, to become a major player in the game, he must become a consistent contender for the major championships, where his record has been shaky. Homa took a small step in the right direction in Southern Hills and finished 13th in the PGA. Given his blistering upward movement, superb all-around play and palpable confidence, it’s safe to assume that Homa will turn heads at the majors next year and be on his way to becoming a certified star.
Eyes on Europe: Have you watched the Italian Open and what do you think of the esteemed Robert MacIntyre? Serious Point: Does the Ryder Cup have legs? @Mikesuff9
I watched most of the last round and loved MacIntrye’s grit and iron play. He is definitely a contender for next year’s European team. And I think Marco Simone looks like a good venue for the Ryder Cup, although place isn’t as important in match play as it is in stroke play; In the cup, you compete against the other guy, not par. The bigger question is the future of the event. Already in 2017 the Golf’s Nostradamus predicted long-term American dominance, and it’s already coming true: after two decades of futility, the US has won two of the last three and will be the clear favorite in 23. If a compromise is not found to bring LIV players back into the fold, Europe will be deprived of its most experienced and inspirational players/future captains: Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell. The loss of 21 Cup star Dustin Johnson is a blow to the US, but as things stand, 12 of the top 18 in the world rankings are Americans, including four big championship winners in Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler as well as an Olympic gold medalist (Xander Schauffele) and FedEx Cup champion (Patrick Cantlay). The average age of these cornerstones is 27.8 years. The USA can fill out their team with young studs like Homa, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Sam Burns and Cam Young or smart vets like Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel and Brian Harman.
Europe has two superstars in Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm and a solid building block in Shane Lowry, but after that things get a bit dodgy. Yes, Matt Fitzpatrick just won the US Open, but he’s 0-5-0 in two previous Ryder Cup appearances. Viktor Holland went 0-3-2 as a Ryder rookie at Whistling Straits and was further exposed in the final round of this year’s British Open. The only other Europeans in the top 30 in the world rankings are Tommy Fleetwood (winless since 2019) and Tyrrell Hatton (winless in the last 20 months). Half of the squad in Rome could be rookies.
Fighting a good fight will be crucial for Europe next year. We’re already seeing how much the Presidents Cup has been weakened by LIV defectors. An easy USA victory in Rome, their first victory on European soil since 1993, would bode particularly badly given the youth imbalance.
Could P#t P#r#z make a cut on the PGA Tour now? (Ryan French would like to know to resolve a recent Twitter “argument”…) @cordeiroconolly
Perez’s continued struggles/triumphs at LIV have become an unexpected source of hilarity. Yes, his game is a little off, but on the 2021-22 PGA Tour he made 12 of 19 cuts with two top 10 finishes. So Perez just recently proved that he can hold his own out there.
Unfortunately. The easiest solution is to do the Prez Cup together. That would instantly elevate it from a Ryder Cup knockoff to a global showcase, especially as international players are banned from the Solheim Cup. The strength of Korea and other international strongholds means women could help internationals fill the talent gap.
I love golf so much (to play and to follow all aspects of the game) but I’m just extremely put off by the state of the pro game right now. I can’t bring myself to watch LIV and the PGA Tour events just seem flat and like they’re missing something now. Am I overreacting? @cparsons981
No, you are not. The bard of the golf swing, Michael Bamberger, has podcasted and written about the same emotions. Naked greed, political tone deafness, press conference bitches, and social media trolling don’t exactly elevate the sport or encourage fans to invest their time and emotions. Hopefully this strange, contentious year will give way to a little more civility. But that’s hardly a sure thing.
There’s a textbook on my bookshelf by Gary Player called Don’t Choke, so tell me. Actually, I’m telling you: of course, choking is a real thing. That’s all Johnny Miller talked about on TV! It exists in every sport, but golfers are all alone out there with nowhere to hide, so being overcome by the moment is more descriptive. Also see: Kudos to Danny Willett for his class and grace after a devastating debacle on the 72nd hole in Napa. That was hard to watch.
It’s clear that Cam Smith and DJ belong at the forefront of the OWGR. Should the ranking make an exception to the one-year latency period and consider scoring LIV? What is the right thing? #AskAlan @RealTurtleBR
Something has to happen quickly, otherwise the world rankings will become a farce. Hopefully when this is settled – and it needs to be settled – the points will be backdated to LIV London so we can once again have a consistent ranking with actual meaning.
Would love to hear your thoughts on Matt Ginella stone cold take from earlier this week regarding club pros and dev tour guys. @BurDee_Machine
I’ve been a guest on probably 20 podcasts and hundreds of talk radio shows this year alone, so I’ll say this as a quasi-expert: when interviewing, sometimes on the journey from brain to mouth, the words don’t quite come out right. Matt’s point was how cutthroat professional golf is, and he brought up the relative job security of club pros to bolster his argument. If he could get the moment back, he would do it differently or phrase it differently. But I was proud of how he dealt with the setback. It’s a sign of good character when you admit a mistake, apologize sincerely, and try to make things right. Matt did all of that; He’s working on a podcast and typed story that should highlight the lives of club professionals and add the necessary context for all of us. I hope that the next time I say something stupid – and that day will surely come – I’ll deal with it with as much humility and sincerity as Matt did.
Have you heard anything from the manufacturers about if/how they intend to market the LIV boys? For example, if new clubs come out next year, will DJ do any promos for TaylorMade or just Rory/Tiger? #AskAlan @jjgottschalk
We’ll see, but so far the local golf companies have stayed loyal to the LIV players. It’s not personal, it’s business: Manufacturers are keen to break into new markets and LIV will help facilitate that. And while few fans tune in to the live streams, there’s still a lot of coverage of LIV in a variety of ways, so all those logo caps and polos get a lot of play.
I will never forget the 72nd hole of the 2018 Masters. I was in the Augusta National locker room interviewing Reed’s opponents, but when he played 18 I walked over to a seating area where a handful of greenjackets were watching the TV show. After Reed rolled in his short par putt to secure the win, these members looked at each other and sighed. They didn’t say any words, but the expressions on their faces were clear: “Awww, shit.” So you could be right.
It was wonderful. Rope run-ins are not uncommon in tournaments, but what made DeChambeau’s mishap performance art was its cinematic flop, guttural profanity, and extraordinarily dour grasp on the towel. Throw in the Zapruder-esque cellphone stuff and we’ve got a Brysonian moment to last.