Each week for the remainder of the golf season we will be rolling out a mailbag, with any and all questions invited from readers and fans around the world. Have a good question you want answered? Hit me up on Twitter at @shanebacon or e-mail me at email@example.com and we will try to get to it in the coming weeks. Here we go ...
@shanebacon 2nd non-Tiger question: While they're nice stories, is it really good for 11-16 yr olds to qualify for the Opens?— W'ern Golf Alliance (@westerngolf) May 20, 2014
Bacon: This question comes on the heels of the news that 11-year-old Lucy Li qualified for the Women's U.S. Open, becoming the youngest to ever do so.
A lot of people bring this stuff up, because we've had our hands full in the past of the Ty Tryons of the world, who showed extreme talent at an incredibly young age only to flame out when they got to the big show.
That said, we have tons of stories of professionals that signed up for qualifiers when they were barely teenagers, and they turned out fine. Golf is a game where you always want to test yourself, test your abilities, and see how you stack up against people of all ages.
When a 12-year-old basketball prodigy gets invited to play with the 15-16 year old AAU team, do we kill him for it? No, we praise him as a potential superstar.
Names like Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and many others competed against professionals at a very, very young age, because these types of players show a level of talent not seen much in golf. Is Lucy Li that type of player? Who knows, she's 11, but the fact that she can shoot a round of 68, what she posted in the second round of her U.S. Open qualifier, is as impressive as anything that has happened this season in golf, and it's the reason that she deserves a spot at Pinehurst.
I think that playing in these things occasionally, especially if you qualify for it, is totally fine, I just see a problem when this is all the player does at a young age. It's still important to compete, and win, against people your own age, or at least close to it, but I don't see a problem with kids playing on the LPGA/PGA Tours if they get the opportunity or they make the opportunity themselves.
Golf continues to get younger. It might not be 11-years-old we focus on routinely, but don't be surprised if we see a 14-year-old or 15-year-old compete for a title sooner than later. This is the way the game is moving.
@shanebacon, What will happen first: a major won by a 50+ year old or a major won by a teenager?— Jamie Kennedy (@jamieonsport) May 20, 2014
Bacon: A very timely question considering Miguel Angel Jimenez became the oldest European Tour winner on Sunday at the age of 50 while Li is doing what she is doing at the age of 11.
Now, this is obviously focusing on the PGA Tour, since we've already had teenager champions at majors on the LPGA.
I think my first thought was that a 50-year-old will definitely win a major before a teenager, because we've seen so many get in contention at times. We've had Tom Watson at the British, Fred Couples at the Masters, and Jimenez, well, everywhere.
But, they don't ever close the thing out. They've been in the conversation a lot, but it seems when the going gets tough, they can't keep it up.
Now, as I said earlier, golf is getting younger, which means that more and more teenagers are going to come up with not only the game to compete in majors, but the confidence to possibly win one. Jordan Spieth, just a year removed from being a teenager, has had success at majors, landing in the final group on Sunday at the Masters earlier this year, so if he's that close to being a teenager, there are surely going to be more and more guys coming up that are young, incredible, and thirsty to make history.
So, I'll go with a teenager winning a major on the PGA Tour first, but I would like it be known that I'm totally okay with either of these options happening at one of the final three majors of 2014.
@shanebacon who do I take with the first pick of first round in my US Open draft? seems as wide open as any major ever has been!— Chris (@cj_s10) May 20, 2014
Bacon: Definitely a change in gears from the 11-year-old, but Pinehurst is fast approaching and as Chris mentions, who in the world is the favorite at this thing? Las Vegas has Rory McIlroy at the top of the odds list at 10-to-1, but Boy Wonder has been feast or famine at this major championship in his short career there (his win is sandwiched between two missed cuts at the U.S. Open).
While there are names like Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose all near the top of the odds list, one name stands out as a good, solid opening pick if this is your draft.
You have to go Phil Mickelson. Why? Well, a number of reasons.
First, Phil has always seemed to step his game up at the majors. Sure, he played like a dog at the Masters earlier this year, missing his first cut at Augusta National since 1997, and he's struggled with his game after that major, but this is the week of the year that Phil has circled as his one time to step up his game.
Mickelson can find something that clicks and go on a tear on the PGA Tour, so I'm going with Phil in a wide opened field that has absolutely no favorite. On top of Mickelson being a somewhat wise pick at Pinehurst, you have the added bonus of rooting for a guy to complete the career Grand Slam at one of the first sites of disappointment for Phil at the U.S. Open.
(Now, after saying all that, I am the absolute worst picker of winners on the PGA Tour ever, so this probably means Phil will fire an opening 83 or something, so warning you now.)
@shanebacon since world golf rankings began how would you rank those who have been #1....best to worst.— Robert (@BobWhiteBalls) May 20, 2014
Bacon: Okay, no time to mess around, here goes:
Tiger, Norman, Seve, Faldo, Vijay, Ernie, Couples, Price, Rory, Woosnam, Duval, Langer, Donald, Westwood, Kaymer, Lehman and our newly appointed world No. 1, Adam Scott.
@shanebacon What is the one course that a US major (US Open, PGA) should be played on but hasn't yet?— ReGripped (@ReGripped) May 20, 2014
Bacon: The easy answer here is Pine Valley, because it is routinely ranked as the best course in the United States and has never hosted a major championship.
That said, the course has a couple of issues, with one being the fact that it doesn't have a lot of places for spectators to stand and watch golf (the idea behind the design was to make every hole seem like you're on your own, personal golf course, so it's hard to find spots between holes to stand and watch).
Also, the course initially wanted to host only amateur events, because when it was designed it was more respectable to play amateur golf than professional, so the golf course has continued with that mindset throughout its history.
Other than that, I would love to see the U.S. Open played at Cypress Point. The short distance from the tips is the obviously problem, but the closing stretch would be absolutely incredible to watch in person, from your television or, hopefully, from some blimp view that would make the 16th look like a painting instead of a golf hole.
@shanebacon why isn't anyone on the PGA Tour sponsored by Chipotle?— Michael Hillyard (@mj_hillyard) May 20, 2014
Bacon: This is a really excellent question, since it is well known how obsessed most PGA Tour players are with the burrito chain.
(Well, everyone except Tiger Woods — he was asked at the Accenture last year if he prefers Chipotle or In-N-Out and gave this answer: "Neither. I haven't had fast food in a while.")
But the answer for a first Chipotle sponsorship is obviously Bubba Watson. Not only has the two-time major winner bought Chipotle for random people before, but he actually served 900 Ping employees Chipotle last week in Phoenix on his post-Masters visit to his club sponsor.
My vision of this would go something like, Bubba is leading the Masters by two shots as he gets to his second shot on the 15th hole. As he stands in the fairway, Bubba pulls out of a huge steak burrito from his golf bag, engulfing it as he waits for the green to clear. Maybe Chipotle could make little to-go burritos for your golf bag, like a meatier Uncrustable? Did I just come up with the best golf idea ever? Chipotle, cut me in on this.
Also, I think it would be excellent if, on the bottom of his golf bag, it simply read, "Guacamole will be $1.25 extra."
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