Monday, February 15, 2010

Tiger who?

Don't tell me golf isn't exciting without Tiger Woods.

This weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, we had plenty of drama that makes for a good final round in a golf tournament.

Two golfers in contention - including the leader - completely wrecked their chances at victory with excruciatingly painful 9s on the par-5 14th hole at Pebble Beach. Paul Goydos held a one-shot lead on eventual champion Dustin Johnson before his debacle that hurt me to watch. I can't even imagine what Goydos felt.

David Duval continues to periodically wow and amaze us. After his well-publicized fall as the world's best golfer a decade or so ago, Duval has turned up near the top of a few leaderboards here and there. For the fans who want to see him succeed, he did so again this weekend by finishing tied for second, one stroke behind Johnson. Duval's birdie putt on No. 17 was the highlight for me.

J.B. Holmes also made a charge at the end with an amazing second shot on No. 16, which he birdied. A near birdie miss on 18 was the only thing that kept the tournament from heading into overtime.

Then, we had the winner - Johnson, whose final round 74 was nothing to write home about. But it included an eagle on 6 and a double on 9. And when he needed a shot, he got it. His chip out of the bunker on 18 to within less than 4 feet from the hole won the tournament for him. He mucks up that chip or misses the short putt, and we're in a playoff.

Now, that's exciting.

Yes, TV ratings go up with Woods in the field. Yes, he makes things more competitive. And yes, I'll be glad when he returns.

But don't tell me golf isn't exciting without him.

3 comments:

  1. Eric if you are a true golf fan as we are, then this weekends tournament was very exciting. But when you look at the big picture unless Tiger plays golf suffers in TV ratings and revenue.

    Tiger brings the casual fan that other golfers don't. I am willing to bet that not many people who watch golf casually have a clue who Dustin Johnson is. Face it golf needs Tiger to come back.

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  2. All true statements, Ed. I agree that Tiger adds a dimension to pro golf that others don't - the celebrity effect.

    Many professional golfers are well-known in the golf world, but Tiger is a crossover celebrity and that does bring the casual fan to the table.

    I just wonder how many of the casual fans will turn away from the sport because of Woods' infidelity. I'm pretty sure true golf fans don't care - I know I don't.

    I've said before that golf will survive with or without Tiger Woods. But you're right, in the past, golf prospered more with him playing in tournaments.

    I want him back. He's great for golf. But I just wanted to make the point that the bigger picture is about more than one person.

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  3. Okay, I'll break my silence: Of course golf is more exciting when more players are capable of winning. One reason people got turned off to baseball years ago is because the Yankees kept winning the World Series. When the Red Sox, the flippin RED SOX, started winning, who knows what could happen next?

    Golf is no different. If casual fans who do not appreciate the intricacies of competition tune in only to watch The Philanderer, good for them, and good for the sponsors, but watching him win week after week is not, in fact, good for golf. Women's tennis is more interesting when players other than the Williams sisters compete for championships.

    Good for golf and good golf tournaments are not necessarily the same thing. Long before Tiger turned pro, golf thrived. In fact, the number of golfers, based on a percentage of the population, has dropped since Tiger has come on the scene. When he retires, other players will still play well, and people will continue to watch the PGA Tour.

    I could not care less if Tiger doesn't come back. I never liked the guy, never bought into the hype, the holier-than-thou image, especially since that was not what I saw when he spat and cursed and ducked the press and didn't sign autographs and expressed no opinions that weren't first vetted by corporate America, or when he broke the actor's strike, because, let's face it, he really needed the money. He was a great golfer, not a guy who's life I wanted to aspire to replicate: remember I AM TIGER WOODS? No, I am not Tiger Woods, and neither, apparently, is he.

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