HOWARD WARD: Golf Without Chosen One Still Exciting
Millions of golf fans discovered something last weekend -- there is golf without Tiger Woods.
They held the PGA Tour Championship, or what used to be that event before the emergence of the FedEx Cup (whatever that is), and not only was it a great tournament, but also it provided great drama.
Well, it was almost without Tiger. The Golf Channel, in order not to deprive us of the Chosen One's presence at an event of this stature, had Tiger on tape describing to the viewing audience just how each hole should be played.
Neat trick, Golf Channel. But frankly, I would have preferred you have the late Bobby Jones on hand to show us the way home.
But enough nit-picking. For now.
I'm still not quite sure what the heck they're trying to accomplish with a season-ending playoff that doesn't even require the attendance of its champion in all the tournaments. Last year, the great Tiger took home the $10 million check and actually skipped one of the events.
This year, one of my personal Great Heroes, Vijay Singh, had to remain on his feet only for the final 72 holes to win the big prize. He did that, barely, and another sorry chapter of this sorry playoff system was recorded.
OK, so maybe that was a little more nit-picking. Sorry about that, but it just kind of sneaked in here.
Still, for all the shortcomings that are obvious in this so-called playoff, we were treated to some stimulating golf.
When you throw four guys such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas into the mix, there is going to be some fireworks. That battle down the stretch on Sunday almost rivaled the preceding week's Ryder Cup.
I said almost.
The point is, there has been great fear among PGA officials and fans that if something happened to Tiger, the Tour would shrivel up and die.
Everyone knows how tournaments that aren't glamorous enough to attract Tiger can't draw spectators. Spectators? They can't leave enough garbage out to draw flies.
So, if last week proved anything, it proved that a golf tournament without Tiger can be exciting. It proved that there are some young guns coming on the scene in Kim and Villegas who can create a little excitement on their own.
Even without Tiger, there is a lot of great talent on the PGA Tour. I know, it's unfortunate, but some of those talents don't have the personality to be superstars.
It's not enough to have the talent of Ben Hogan anymore. You've got to have the talent, but you also have to have charisma.
This is the age of flash even more than of substance. We have a presidential campaign that's vivid proof of that.
But back to the FedEx Cup. Or should that be the FedUp Cup? The PGA Tour has to come up with something that works or this thing is going to lay an even bigger egg than it already has.
If they're going to give us a playoff, it's going to have to be something where the winner isn't decided before it starts. Playoffs have to have drama. There has to be some element of suspense.
Frankly, I don't think there's a way to pull this off without resorting to some kind of match play format. I'm certainly not smart enough to figure out how it would work, but there are some smart guys out there.
Let them come up with something.
But what the heck do I know? I've been harping about a playoff in college football for more than 20 years and look what's that's accomplished.
Still, it's refreshing that we can have some excitement in the game without His Highness. Frankly, I don't know how the Ryder Cup and the final round of the FedUp Cup could have been any better even with Tiger in the mix.
I'm not saying that Tiger isn't still the best golfer on the planet. What I am saying is that golf doesn't have to worry about the day coming when he decides he'd rather lounge on the deck of his yacht than walk a fairway.
Believe it or not, golf will survive.
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
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