Mailbag #2 — A Rivalry That Isn’t

It’s been a while since the first mailbag, but figured it was time to answer a few of the questions I’ve been getting in the meantime.

Thoughts on the Rory McIlroy vs. Jordan Spieth rivalry that everyone’s talking about?

Scooter, Colorado Springs

Well first off, there is no “rivalry”. That’s just the media trying to create headlines and to get people like us to talk about it. They haven’t really “battled” to win a golf tournament yet, and even then, it takes more than a few instances for something to be considered a rivalry.

I’ll talk about Spieth first though, and how he seems to have picked up the ability to finish in the top 20 of any tournament. Besides his two missed cuts (which, don’t get me wrong, still count as big blemishes), he hasn’t finished worse than T17. This is his first full season on the PGA Tour, and to be able to be able to do that absolutely proves he’s worthy of being ranked 2nd in the world.

As for Rory, he’s been struggling a little recently, with a couple missed cuts. But he’s got the same consistency of finishing near the top of every tournament he’s made the cut in. This year, he’s finished no worse than 11th on the PGA Tour this season (ignoring the MC at Honda and the couple over in Europe just like I did for Spieth). As for Rory’s excuses, he’s played a ton of golf all over the world. And that’s tiring for sure.

Now to the main point. If both players really need motivation to play well, for example, like at the US Open coming up soon, I’ll take Rory for sure. He’s won 4 majors already, and is probably a little better at adjusting to a new course like Chambers Bay will be.

What you have to keep in mind is that Spieth is 5 years younger than Rory, and 5 years is an eternity in experience world. Who would I take in 5 years, current Rory, or whatever Spieth will be in 5 years? Probably Spieth, just because it seems the reason he plays badly is his inexperience with the hooplah, though he’s pretty good at that right now. Once he has that covered up, I think he’s got a much bigger desire to win on a week to week basis.

But yeah, as for “rivalry”, that’s a load of garbage. Classic media.

No one’s talking about it, but the Olympics are coming up quick. You’d think that with golf being in it for the first time, there’d be more of a buzz. What’s going on?

Gary, Huntsville

I’m a little torn on this one. As of right now, yeah it seems like it’s going to be an exhibition. Maximum of four players for a country (relatively weak field), on a brand new course (that’s way behind in development) to and with an organization that’s absurdly corrupt (another issue entirely). I don’t think anyone’s going to care about who won the Olympics and all it’s going to do is cause scheduling conflicts every four years. All of that and I haven’t even mentioned how there’s no prize money, which does make a difference.

Think about the Olympic road biking event. I’m not a huge follower of bike racing, but I’m pretty sure the Olympics isn’t really that big of a “must win” for the top riders. (If I’m wrong, call me out on twitter for sure). The Tour de France seems way more of a priority, and the top riders just ride in the Olympics for funsies.

The one thing that could change this all though is time. When a young kid grows up watching the Olympics and sees the golf event, I’m sure they’ll start thinking of it being natural. Right now, to us older folks, we don’t associate golf and the Olympics. But a 10 year old kid might start doing that after the 2016 olympics. I’m sure NBC will try to make the golf event seem as important as the other, more standard Olympic events like track and swimming, but I don’t know how well it’ll be received by the older crowd.

The other idea that I’ve been more of a fan of is making it some sort of bestball event. Or maybe a 3 round, alternate shot, scramble, bestball thing. Two guys from each country, in a three round, event where they play different formats each time? I’d watch that for sure. Or what about a bestball bracket of match play after a couple rounds of qualifying. Getting a final bestball match of Jordan Spieth / Dustin Johnson against Adam Scott and Jason Day? Oh boy.

The Memorial Tournament had a great finish, a 3 way tie with 3 holes left. And yet, it still didn’t have the feeling of excitement that other tournaments do. How do you improve the coverage to make it as dramatic as it should be?

Rob, Detroit

Don’t really know about the dramatics other than making the tournament a major. But we actually talked about ways to improve coverage in general over a year ago. I want to add something else to that list though — microphones on the players. I’m not talking about the post shot reactions that we occasionally hear from Spieth, but rather the player / caddie conversations. Talking about the wind, what kind of shot they’re going to hit would add amazing value to any broadcast. Sometimes on the pgatour.com live streams I get to hear the random conversation about an upcoming shot, but being able to get that every time would be amazing. Though a pretty decent violation of privacy.

In reality, adding that extra thought in the back of a player’s mind that people are probably listening to everything that they say isn’t the best idea. That, combined with the decent amount of swearing that some players do, means we’ll probably never see this. But still fun to get every once in a while

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