It’s been awhile. Let’s just get to it.

@NoLayingUp who makes the 12 man squad for Ryder cup 2016

— Chad Tully (@ChadTully) October 19, 2015

I was hoping someone would ask this so I could justify speculating on this. How soon is too soon to start talking about the Ryder Cup? Since the first foursomes session at Gleneagles, I was counting down to Hazeltine, as I truly believe this is the year that the tide turns for the U.S., and stays that way for a long time. And I’ve been dying to get overly confident and cocky about it, so for that, thank you Chad. First, let’s look at the qualifying criteria on the USA side:

– 2015 Major Championships (1 Point per $1,000 earned)

– 2015 WGC Events and The Players Championship (1 Point per $2,000 earned)

– 2016 Regular PGA TOUR Events (1 point per $1,000 earned, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, through and including the Barclays on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016)

-2016 Major Championships (2 points per $1,000 earned)

– The Top Eight: Eight of the 12 members of the U.S. Team will be named on points earned following the conclusion of The Barclays, which is scheduled to conclude Sunday Aug. 28, 2016.

– Captain’s Picks: U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III will select three of his four Captain’s Picks after the conclusion of the BMW Championship, which is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. His fourth pick will take place Sunday evening after the TOUR Championship, Sept. 25, 2016. This new timetable also is pushed back two weeks.

These standings mean next to nothing at this point, but here’s where we stand so far.

This is going to be a hybrid of who I expect to be on the team, and who I want to be on the team, and it’s going to look more like a wish list than it is a prediction. The reason I like a lot of these guys in general has a lot to do with how I project the future for them, so while it looks like a list of players that have restraining orders against me, it actually represents guys that I think will either do enough to qualify on their own, or enough to impress DL3 to forget the Furyk era. No Kuch, no Sneds, no Mahan, and no Keegan. The theme here is going to be fresh blood.

Of the top 8 listed above, there’s no one there that I for sure want to boot out. As big of a problem as I had with the Phil pick for the Presidents Cup, I was wrong. He played great, and was clearly a leader on that team. He could start playing right handed in 2016 and Davis Love still wouldn’t leave him off the team. J.B. Holmes is the only guy in that top 8 that I’m guessing will not be there at the opening ceremony (either through qualifying, or captain’s picks), so that leaves five openings:

Patrick Reed – I think he wins again in 2015-2016, and his match play career just can’t be ignored. He was the most animated player in an event in which his team was getting blown out on foreign soil…. can you imagine the unleashed version of Reed we’re going to get at Hazeltine? He’s going to bypass the team jet to ride into Minnesota on a bald eagle, wearing a special issue revolutionary war uniform.

Justin Thomas – He was a brutal lip out away from being in a playoff at the opening event of the year. Of course, this doesn’t count in the points race yet, but the breakout is absolutely, 100% coming this year in the same way that the Koepka missile launched in 2015. He will win at least once. The first one will either be the Career Builder Classic or the Waste Management (petition to start renaming tour events please). If he plays well, yet still doesn’t make it on points, the Spieth relationship that we have grown sick of hearing about will pay off in a captain’s pick.

Billy HorschelAs discussed on my podcast with Mr. Horschel himself last week, when Billy get’s hot, he gets really, really hot. After a somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign, we’re due for a signature Horschel run that will leap him into the picture. His ball striking would make him an excellent foursomes player, and similar to Reed, he’s going to ignite some passion from the U.S. side.

Kevin Na – Combine Na’s quirkiness with his pace and his stellar play and being on a Ryder Cup team isn’t as crazy as it sounds. I expect Na to win this year (I’m running out of trophies to give away).

Tony Finau – I’m legally bound to immediately say “bomber” after mentioning Tony Finau’s name, and also mention that Tron Carter has coined him “The Nuclear Football.” I’m expecting big things out of him this year, including a win this week at the Shriners Hospital.

I would take that team against anything that Europe is able to put together. Their top four of Rory-Rose-Stenson-Sergio remains formidable, but once you get past that, the lack of emerging young talents out of Europe is kind of exposed (*ducks*). I know, I know, I know that this is extremely premature, but if you’re looking at the top 12 European players in the OWGR at the moment (ignore the actual European qualifying system at this point as they are way more subject to change than the US standings), the names Shane Lowry, Danny Willett, Berndt Wiesberger, David Lingmerth, Andy Sullivan, and Soren Kjeldsen aren’t exactly striking a lot of fear in me if I’m taking the squad listed above into battle.

@NoLayingUp Spieth, Rory, Day and Fowler to combine for more wins than the rest of the tour this season?

— Liam Daly (@LiamDaly90) October 19, 2015

Easily taking the field here. What that group did in 2015 was absurd, but there are like 158 events in the PGA Tour season, and these guys don’t play in a lot of those. So let’s make the qualifying factor here be to only include the events where at least two of them are in the field. It’s much closer, but I’m still taking the field. It feels like the first three guys on that list are going to win every event next year, but like we’ve all been saying for years now, the depth of the tour is bordering on getting out of control, with so many guys capable of winning every week. Expecting the next year to be just like the last year can be very faulty thinking. It would be unfair to expect Spieth to imitate, much less duplicate his 2015 season. Rory had a breakout season in 2012 by winning four times, and followed it with zero wins in 2013. He bounced back with three wins in 2014 (consisting of two majors and a WGC), and responded with a “disappointing” two wins season as he watched Spieth and Day lap him. I’d rather bet on at least one of them having a “disappointing” 2016 than bet on them to replicate it.

@NoLayingUp How would you fix the Official World Golf Rankings?

— Ben McNamara (@1867_ben) October 19, 2015

For someone who complains about the OWGR as much as I do, I really should have more of an opinion on how to fix them. I will point you in the direction of the always excellent Jake Nichols, who summarizes the issues with the current system with this post. Here is a basic synopsis:

Broadie and Rendleman (2012) went into a lot of detail about the bias inherent in the OWGR. A encourage you to at least peruse that paper. They basically rated all golfers from 2002-2010 using actual on-course performance and then compared those ratings to the OWGR. Their findings indicate that PGA Tour golfers are ranked significantly lower than golfers from the other major tours when controlling for on-course performance. Basically, the fields in non-PGA Tour events are systematically overrated, making a win in the Malaysian Open or Nordea Masters look more comparable to a win in a full field PGA Tour event.”

I’m not capable of statistical analysis like the stuff Nichols does, and I’m quite impressionable, so I pretty much buy everything he’s saying in that post. The European Tour is basically the five o’clock free crack giveaway of OWGR points, especially this time of the year (for the record, I’m aware that Koepka has benefited greatly from this system).

The best example I had from this past season was during the Valspar Championship/Hero Indian Open week this year. Henrik Stenson finished a shot out of the playoff including Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, and received 15 OWGR points. Anirban Lahiri won the Hero Indian Open over S.S.P. Chawrasia (who shot a final round 76), and Lahiri received 19 OWGR points. The field strength at the Valspar was 370, compared to 40 for the Hero Indian Open. So in a sense, the system gives you too much credit for winning, and doesn’t factor enough in to who you actually beat. Considering that the field strength on the US tour vastly exceeds that on the Euro side, it’s easy to see how the players that play mostly on the European Tour can be overrated in the rankings.

To an extent, I agree with Shane Ryan regarding the OWGR at the top. I can’t stand the people that harp week to week on the change in the #1 ranking, despite it not corresponding to the previous week’s results. The system is not perfect, but it’s not designed to differentiate between the #1 and #2 players in the world.

@NoLayingUp Why wasn't #TheBigUnit @kiradech included in the rescue of Sang-Moon Bae? #ThaiAlly #CoalitionOfTheWilling

— Neil Schuster (@ngschu) October 19, 2015

The Barn Rat was considered, but was benched on this mission for three main reasons:

  1. The Escape from Pyeontaek was a diplomatic mission, carried out by an elite team of SEALS from within the Walled World. A mission this classified, this close to the DMZ had to remain inside these walls.

  1. There were medical concerns regarding this 2014 incident:

  1. You yourself correlated the Barn Rat with an “Arms Race” which only would have called more attention to this clandestine assignment.
@NoLayingUp I'd love a preview/Nostradamus like write-up of Brooks' year ahead. #BrooksIsHere

— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) October 20, 2015

See, people are asking about Brooks! So I’m obligated to talk about him! I can’t believe you guys are making me do this.

In his first season as a PGA Tour member, he played in 23 events, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open, had eight top-10’s, 14 top-25’s, and only missed three cuts. I’m expecting him to improve on just about all of those numbers, including wins at the Farmers Insurance Open and the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Part of the reason I was so insanely adament about him being on the Presidents Cup team is that he’s going to be on the Ryder Cup team, and while I don’t think experience in these events is vital, I wanted him to get exposed to the team room, the players he’s going to be playing with, and the atmosphere around an international team event.

I’m also predicting that he’ll continue to get ignored by CBS until he wins a major. If he does win the Masters, we may have to find out about it online.

@NoLayingUp Bigger Finchem mess up: Q School or running off Justin Timberlake at the Shriners?

— Chris Chaney (@Wrong_Fairway) October 19, 2015

Finchem’$ Folly takes the cake here, but I do love the idea of sifting through Finchem’$ blunders one by one. If I’m being honest, I haven’t cared enough about the Shriners to really understand why JT is no longer involved, but he was good for golf, so I’ve got no problem pointing an ignorant finger of blame in the direction of the commissioner here, and just assume that money was the root of the decision here. During this money grab era, I think that’s a pretty safe conclusion.

If I can transition from this question though, there’s a more important, underlying theme here that needs to be addressed. It took me a really, really long time to get passed the N’Sync Justin Timberlake phase, and embrace him as basically the coolest guy on the planet. I missed out on some peak JT time because I still wanted to hate him. I felt like I was supposed to hate N’Sync, so inherently, I kind of had to hate JT. As many others were coming around on him, I stayed safe under the cover of the assumed boy band hate.

So my question is, when do I have to stop hating Justin Bieber? I haven’t hated either of his last two songs. I feel like that that is the first step in the process. I’m not ready to admit that I like them, but when does he pass through the JT vortex, and when am I allowed to admit that he’s not the worst? Or is he still the worst? Oh he is? I’ve said too much! Forget I said anything! He’s still yours Canada!

@NoLayingUp what are the top 3 things you would change if you ran the PGA tour or the European Tour?

— Nelson Hunstad (@Hunny_Hunstad) October 19, 2015

Three!? I’m going to assume that’s a weird way to spell 8. I haven’t thoroughly thought these through, but these are my half baked ideas.

  1. Start marketing your young players the way you market the guys in their 30’s and 40’s. I understand that those are the guys that move the needle from a ratings standpoint, but you can also help control that needle on your own. It may seem ridiculous after the year he had, and how strong the hype machine is rolling now, but there was a time not that long ago where we (Big Randy specifically) were screaming this about The Golden Child, Jordan Spieth himself. You don’t have to wait until these guys win a major before starting up the hype machine. Guys like Koepka, Thomas, Reed, etc. (along with the obvious Spieth-Rory-Day trio) are going to be buttering your bread for the next ten years or so, and the casual fans need to know their names. It’s OK to think long term every once in a while.
  2. If you’re going to charge fans for live streaming, make sure that you are providing live streaming.
  3. Make at least some effort on your website to indicate who is planning to play what events. How is it 2015 and there’s nowhere I can go to figure out who is playing where? I don’t want to go to each individual’s website to see what their upcoming schedule is, or rely on them to publicize it on twitter. It might be a bit thankless and tiresome task, but these events have an idea at least a few months in advance as to what top players are playing in their events. It makes sense that this should be cross referenced with the tour’s website.
  4. Change the qualifying system for the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup to include international play. This isn’t really PGA Tour related, but I’m worked up so just let it slide.
  5. Allow non PGA Tour members that earn special temporary membership to play in the FedExCup playoffs if they earn enough points.
  6. Allow under-25 players to receive the opportunity to accept more than eight sponsor’s exemptions to prevent players from being encouraged to play in Europe rather than the U.S (i.e., the Spieth/Koepka rule).
  7. Give slow players “The Belt” (see #5 here).
  8. Make the FedExCup Playoffs an actual playoff. After the Tour Championship, take the top 16, and put them in a match play bracket. Give the top four players a double bye, the next four a single bye, and run the playoff on a Sunday through Wednesday, on the west coast, with the finale airing on Wednesday night in prime time against no NFL football for $10 million.
@NoLayingUp You can have a sponsor invite into one non-major and 3 mo. to prepare. What event, who would caddie, who's your practice rd w/?

— D.J. Piehowski (@DJPie) October 19, 2015

The Memorial Tournament. I grew up attending this tournament for about twenty years, so to play in front of all of the girls who wouldn’t date me in high school would be a dream come true. I would still manage to embarrass myself and they still wouldn’t date me, but it would easily be the event I would want to play. I’ve played the course a few times, so I’m at least familiar, and I’ve watched enough golf there that I at least know the ideal way to play the course. Obviously playing it would be much more difficult, but that’s the easy part of this question.

My caddie would be my best friend from home, Frankie Tedesco. Mostly because he would kill me if he wasn’t the caddie. But also because we’ve played somewhere in the range of 300-500 rounds of golf together since we were pre-teens, and have dreamed of this exact scenario (D.J. Piehowski asking this question in a mailbag) many, many times.

The practice round is the difficult, and impossible question. I’m going to reluctantly choose Phil over Big Cat, Spieth, Rory, Day, Thomas, Koepka, Dufner, Horschel, and that ilk. From what I’ve heard, before Phil plays a pro-am, he gets a folio of everyone in his group, and asks you more questions about your business than you are able to ask him about golf. From an experience standpoint, I think Phil would make that practice round the most interesting out of anyone listed above. From a historical standpoint, playing with Tiger or even Spieth may be more significant, but from an actual tangible experience standpoint, I think Phil would be the best guy to talk to for four hours.

Thanks all for the questions. Let’s do it again soon.