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March 04, 2011

Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Tiger's next win, Michelle Wie's attitude, Vijay's nickname and more

Vj Who wins first? Mickelson or Woods?
Mark Potts

Will either Vijay Singh or David Duval win a regular PGA event before Tiger Woods?
Mike

So it has come to this: Tiger has now sunk to David Duval territory. Maybe lower; Duval's swing actually looks pretty good these days. Mickelson played beautifully in San Diego and was pretty solid in Pebble. I expect him to win before Woods. I also expect the big Fijian to get a W before either of them. Vijay's a Florida guy and his game appears to be peaking. Yes, these are crazy times in golf.

Going off last year's British Open and the recent event in Dubai, it seems that high winds disproportionately punish the very best players. Tiger's best round was when he had an 8 a.m. tee time. McIlroy's best round was when he teed off even earlier — yet when they rose to the top of the leaderboard the late tee times put them right in the face of the worst of the wind. This allowed the rest of the pack — who now had the benefit of an earlier tee time — to catch up. It seems fitting that Quiros — the guy who knows least about where his ball is going — should get lucky and win. However I don't believe it makes for good golf.
David Crowe

Unless pro golf goes to shotgun starts, the early starts are usually going to have better conditions: smoother greens, less wind, fairways with fewer divots, more sober fans. Playing late on Sunday afternoon is full of challenges and hassles. That's why winning is so difficult, and venerated.

It's been my contention that Michelle Wie would benefit from getting just a little pissed off. With so much talent, she just comes across as so willing to accept her top 5s over and over again. Sure, she looks whiny and put-upon sometimes when things don't go her way, but that's not the same as getting angry, and I swear she would benefit from that. What do you think?
Mark Limbaugh

Yes, I too would like to see Wie play with more passion and emotion. It was a joy to watch her at the last Solheim Cup when she let it all hang out, and it's not a coincidence that she played some of the best golf of her career that week. I don't think Wie is a natural competitor, like a Juli Inkster or Karrie Webb. Those players don't just want to win, they want to beat you, too. Wie is almost too smart for her own good. She's a perfectionist for whom golf is an intellectual exercise. She wants to hit every shot perfectly, and a lot of her satisfaction comes from mastering the execution, not necessarily the ensuing result. I'd like to see her more focused on getting the ball in the hole and taking down the other players. A little anger might help.

Why does every single article that refers to Vijay Singh inevitably refer to him as "the big Fijian" in the second paragraph? It's not a particularly clever nickname — is it laziness on the part of the writers or is that just the nicest thing they can think of to call him?
Joe

You mean like in my answer to the first question? No, it's not clever, but it is fun to type. And let's face it, it's hard to come up with colorful things to write about Vijay.

The 17th of May, we'll know where the Ryder Cup 2018 will take place. Your choice among candidates and why?
Yannick Cochennec

Six countries ostensibly are in the running: France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. None of the would-be host courses are anything like classics. (Madrid would be the host city, a long way from Valderrama.) Anyway, I'm not too worried about the course. In stroke play, the playing field is paramount. Match play is all about beating the other guy and the nuances of the course recede into the background. After the rain-soaked debacle in Wales weather has to be a factor. As much as I like blondes, that's a strike against Holland, Sweden and Germany. Portugal and France are swell places to visit but they don't have strong golfing traditions. The '97 Ryder Cup was probably the most spirited I've ever attended. Seve and Jose Maria defined the European team's duende for two decades. And Madrid is one of my favorite cities in the world. So, Spain gets my highly idiosyncratic vote.

Why, when discussing Tiger's swing change(s), don't the SI, Golf.com analysts and others report that one of the main reasons for the swing changes may be the four operations on his left knee? It seems there is a strong effort to relieve the pressure on the knee, especially when the swing speed is about 120 miles an hour.
Fran Fanucci

I think Tiger has made this point himself a number of times. But in general I don't feel like there is enough focus on the wear and tear on Tiger's body. I was the ghost-writer for Harrison Frazar's piece in the recent Golf Plus standalone. Harrison is 39 and after four surgeries and dozens of cortisone shots he's contemplating retirement in part because of the physical toll of playing golf for a living. Tiger is an old 35, a range rat since the days of "The Mike Douglas Show." After four surgeries on his knee and a blown-out Achilles you have to wonder how much more his body can take. Woods is too talented and too dedicated not to master his recent swing changes. But I think whether he makes it to the top of Mt. Nicklaus depends largely on how healthy he is going forward.

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

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