Mac Engel

Dan Jenkins talks about Tiger Woods, Jordan Speith, TCU

As Colonial prepares for its annual PGA close-up, best-selling author Dan Jenkins shares his opinions on the game: Tiger Woods is done, Colonial has gotten easier, and the state of golf is all about greed.
As Colonial prepares for its annual PGA close-up, best-selling author Dan Jenkins shares his opinions on the game: Tiger Woods is done, Colonial has gotten easier, and the state of golf is all about greed. Star-Telegram

With all due respect to everybody currently typing on a keyboard, or holding a pen and paper, the best in FW/d is still Mr. Dan Jenkins.

We are lucky he calls Fort Worth home.

In an effort to tap this endless source of wit and knowledge, I asked him if he would mind terribly being interviewed for a column during this week, the week of Colonial.

He agreed, but he preferred to do it via email. To be able to do this, even via email, is sincerely humbling, and a professional bucket-list item for me.

Anything he has to say is better than anything I will ever write (insert joke here), so enjoy the words from one of the greatest living sports writers. We covered Colonial, the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth and TCU, too.

After the majors, do you think Colonial is among that second tier of tournaments or does such a thing even exist?

Colonial is still in the second tier of tournaments, despite the fact that the layout has eased up from a very difficult 280 U.S. Open test to a layout where journeymen pros can shoot 61. Age carries it forward, plus a great array of past champions. My current list of important second-tier events would include what I still call the Crosby, the LA Open, The Players, Jack’s Memorial and the Tour Championship.

Is Jordan Spieth the next big thing on the Tour, or are we kidding ourselves that, because of the depth of talent at the top, anybody will ever replicate Tiger’s run a decade ago?

Jordan Spieth is the real deal. As I tweeted from Augusta, he appears to be the perfect Texas pro. He has the will and the focus of Ben Hogan, the likability of Byron Nelson and the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw. I’m delighted that we now have a youthful Top Three — Rory McIlroy, Jordan and Rickie Fowler. Rickie doesn’t have the physique or the size and strength of Rory and Jordan, but he’s a fierce competitor, a fighter who has to get everything out of himself, somewhat on the order of a Gary Player. Incidentally, there’s much more talent at the top (and the bottom) than there was during Tiger’s peak years. Tiger beat a lot of nobodies to win most of his majors.

Yeah, there was Phil [Mickelson] and [Ernie] Els around, in and out, but go back and look who was second to him in those majors and tell me where they are now.

Did we take Tiger Woods’ dominance for granted, and will he catch Jack Nicklaus’ record for majors?

I never took Tiger’s dominance for granted. The media loved him because he was golf’s only rock star, only dynasty, and people like dynasties in any sport. People also like to see dynasties crash and burn. Every golfer hits a wall eventually. Tiger has hit his, in more ways than one. He’s lost his game and putting stroke and his head. It happens. And I’ve only seen one player lose it all and come back. That was [Ben] Hogan, who damn near died in the car wreck. He came back and won six more majors. Tiger seems more confused about it than anyone I’ve ever covered. Maybe that’s partly because it came so easy for him in the beginning....

All this is a roundabout way of saying, no, he won’t break Jack’s record, and he’ll be lucky to win another major. He’s a few months away from turning 40, which means he will only have five good years left to do it. In all of history, only four players have won a major beyond the age of 44. One more thing to consider: Tiger gets older every year, and the current best players are much younger and are no longer intimidated by him.

Is the overall state of the PGA Tour really that much different from 25 years ago, or does this era have a decidedly different feel?

The tour is much different now. Greed rules. The prize money is obscene. A player no longer has to win to get rich. The tournaments have corporate names, the Tour staff takes charge of the tournament courses and eases them up to create lower scores, the exempt status has taken fear out of the game (they can shoot at the pins the first two rounds instead of struggling to make the cut and play next week). It’s power golf now because of technology — drive it 300 yards, hit a wedge, go to the next tee. I don’t know if all this makes it better or worse. But, thank God, we still have the four majors that get my heart started.

Why don’t you tweet more?

I’m only paid to tweet at the majors, which I enjoy doing. Why? Because I can say stuff that wouldn’t fit into the theme of a game story. I do drop in a thought about other things now and then. And I’m always busy working on another book whether the world wants it or not.

Not to trash the Byron Nelson, but that tournament seems to have really fallen on hard times since Mr. Nelson died; do you think when it relocates to the new course it will enjoy a resurgence?

The Nelson, which will always be the Dallas Open to me, ain’t gonna gain no class when it moves to “the wrong side” of town. But perhaps today’s generation, and future ones, don’t know there’s such a thing as the wrong side of a town. Hope not. My personal preference would be for the event to go to Brook Hollow, if that could be managed. It’s still the greatest course in Texas for my money, now that Colonial has changed so much.

TCU time: Is this the best era in the history of TCU athletics?

No question this is the greatest era in TCU history top to bottom. The Thirties and Fifties were great, but only for football. But with success comes problems. Like where the hell do you park now?

Will TCU make the college football Final Four in 2015?

Like any knowledgeable journalist I’m a practicing cynic. TCU has the athletes and the system to have another great season, but I’m always looking for injuries, bad bounces, and criminal zebras lurking around the corners. And then, of course, there are the TV critics in charge of selecting the Final Four.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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