Each Tuesday 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 and we will try to get to it in the coming weeks. Here we go ...
@shanebacon if Tiger fails to have a good week at Mr. Palmers tournament will he add either Valero or Shell before Masters?— Joy Willoughby (@Golfsmith_Joy) March 18, 2014
Bacon: I received this question before the announcement was made that Tiger Woods was withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but now the question almost has more relevance.
Should Tiger add one of these two tournaments in hopes of getting, as he likes to say, more reps in before the Masters?
I'm assuming if the back is an issue he won't be teeing it up at either the Valero or the Shell, but if he somehow can get over this injury in the next two weeks I think the Shell is more likely. The course is set up as close to Augusta National as possible, and it would be a good stop for Tiger the week before the first major of the year.
Remember, Tiger is a guy that doesn't like to play the week before a major championship, but it has been a long time since that formula worked and I think knocking off the rust prior to the biggest week on the golf calender is worth shaking up your schedule.
But, as it has the last few weeks, all of this hinges on the health of Tiger Woods, and nobody really knows what is going on with that back of his except Tiger and a few select people.
@shanebacon Austrailia vs. US, 4x4 matchplay; who wins? What course do you want them to play?— Bryan Reynolds (@bryguyreynolds) March 18, 2014
Bacon: Hey Bryan, you deserve a very frosty Arnold Palmer for this great question, and I am happy to dig into it.
Australia versus the United States would be awesome, and picking random players like a captain would be fun, but I figured I would make it as legit as possible so I went and checked the Official World Rankings to find the top four from both places.
Your United States team? Tiger Woods (Ranked No. 1), Phil Mickelson (No. 5), Dustin Johnson (No. 8) and Zach Johnson (No. 10). That is four players from the U.S. in the top-10, so that team is pretty dirty, but before we make a decision let me give you the Australians.
Adam Scott (No. 2), Jason Day (No. 4), John Senden (No. 60) and Marc Leishman (No. 69). While the Australian team is very top-heavy, I think the consistency of the Americans and the fact that they are forced to play a team event each year gives them the slight edge.
As for a course, I'm thinking somewhere in Hawaii so both teams can meet a little in the middle, and the first one that comes to mind is the Plantation Course simply because it is very, very beautiful and ends on a firework-style hole with that lengthy par-5.
Now, the better question might be if the best four Americans went up against the best four from England, who would win? We've seen the American team above, but Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are a pretty formidable team that could do some damage to those in the red, white and blue. While I still have to go with the United States because if I didn't I might even get hate mail from my father, I think it would be a pretty fun match to watch and it would include eight of the most recognizable golfers on the planet.
If only we had golf in the Olympics and could make it a super fun format like this instead of a 72-hole stroke play event ...
@shanebacon What's the better perk for winning, 2 year exemption or Masters invite? One gets you financial security, the other into Augusta.— Scott Ruesterholz (@Read_N_Learn) March 18, 2014
Bacon: While I am a huge sucker for Augusta National and have it at the top of my list of places I hope I get to play at some point in my life, I think the logical answer is the two year exemption.
First, with two years on tour you have plenty of chances to earn a spot at the Masters, and it allows you to play comfortably at the highest level of professional golfer for two years without a single worry in the world.
An invite to the Masters is a very special thing, but the ability to just get in every event you want over the course of two seasons could not only change your life but extend your time as a professional, which is exactly what every player not in the top-30 in the world is trying to do.
I love the Masters, and think that invite would be the most special part of winning a PGA Tour golf tournament, but in the long term you have to lean towards the two years.
@shanebacon Is it bad if I take my Ping putter to play mini-golf? I mean, Happy Gilmore took his odyssey hockey putter to play putt-putt.— Aaron Staggs (@Astaggs59) March 18, 2014
Bacon: There are few rules I live by, but here they are; open the door for anyone older than you, always give your boss a 3-footer if he's stressing over it, and never, ever, ever bring your own putter to a mini golf course.
Happy Gilmore might have done this, but I dissected that movie years ago for all the ridiculous golf things that happen, so I wouldn't exactly follow the rule of that film if you consider yourself an actual golfer (even though I would be down to see more hockey jerseys at the driving range).
Put the putter away, use the rubber ones they give you and remember that you're at putt-putt because you're either on a date, with your kids or messing around with your buddies. It's supposed to be goofy and fun, not country club serious.