7:25 pm Update
It seems like this Tiger Woods tournament is getting less buildup than any other I can recall since he turned pro. There seems to be almost zero buzz. Even the DC area news outlets are discussing other players and parking/shuttles, etc. Tour Confidential had a question like, “What should we expect from Tiger this week?”, and one of the respondents said, paraphrasing, “I don’t know why we are even asked this question any more.”
I think people truly feel a page has been turned, and they are finally adjusting to the New Normal. Jordan Spieth has a lot to do with it. He’s already won two majors and has seven more majors to play before he gets to the age of Woods when he won a second major. If Jordan doesn’t win another major ever, he’s still got two years before he falls behind Woods’s pace.
I think, too, people are seeing how great golf is when you cheer for multiple players. After seeing Jason Day collapse at the U.S. Open on prime time national television, a lot of people learned, and lived, his story. So this weekend, even casual fans were thinking, “Oh, that’s the vertigo guy. Good for him!” In the past, in the Only Tiger Matters era, Day would not have gotten so nearly much coverage.
People are frequently saying, “Golf has never been in better shape than right now,” and — let’s be honest — some of that is just a rebellious shot at the All Tiger All The Time period we are finally exiting. But most of it is because people are paying attention to all the other storylines. Rickie and his “overrated” episode. Rory for the past four years. Spieth, obviously. Jason and vertigo. The regular stuff that used to get ignored: a Canadian trying to win the Canadian Open. Instead of the same old warmed-over Woods rehashes, people are getting real golf articles about things they don’t already know.
And, as a society, I think people are fed up with the “in your face” mentality that has been trendy the past number of years. The NFL sections of sports websites read like the police report; people are noticing; that guy punching his girlfriend unconscious then dragging her out of the elevator might have marked a major tipping point. The civil behavior now dominating golf is a refreshing contrast to what we see elsewhere.
I read in a book review somewhere today, “There are people who demand respect, but they refuse to do anything to earn it.” I think we are seeing golfers ahead of the societal curve; they are telling us with their actions that they are going to earn our respect.
Maybe I’m extrapolating too much, but there is always a pendulum effect when it comes to society, and I think we’ve swung way too far to the Look-At-Me reality show side. People are looking at athletes and thinking, “What you do is just a game. You aren’t inventing or discovering anything. If you didn’t win the game or tournament, someone else would, and it really wouldn’t make a darn bit of difference to the world.”
In a different era, Tim Duncan would have been a massive star. As it is, players with half his success are household names, while Tim keeps winning in relative obscurity.
The media-created image of Rickie Fowler as a super-duper mega-cool X-games “extreme sports” wildman rang hollow. Rickie Fowler as the down-to-earth guy from humble beginnings (who, yes, rode motocross) is much more real and sustainable — and ultimately more appealing to sports fans.
Good News, Bad News: There is good news and bad news this morning. First the bad: Tiger has fallen to OWGR #266. The good: PGATour.com has kept Tiger as their feature player on the main player page!
Jason and Bubba: Jason Day showed Tiger-like tenacity by eagling the final hole at the Canadian Open to win, moving to OWGR #4. He sits one behind slot behind Bubba Watson, who held onto third by finishing second at the Canadian Open! Bubba has been a Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teammate of Tiger; Jason has played against Tiger in the Presidents Cup.
If Tiger Wins: If Tiger wins this week, he will move to, approximately, #75. He’s won this week’s event twice before, so adding a third trophy would surprise no one.
THE Buzz: There is no buzz like a Tiger Woods buzz, and golf fans in Virginia are buzzing. Tiger, with his 14 major championships, moves the needle unlike anyone in history. My hot take is that Big Cat will be rocking some awesome kicks this week. Tiger has the It Factor, and if he plays with swagger, he’ll win. I know this is a first world problem, but I’m really dejected I can’t be at the event.
Washington Posts a Winner: One heckuva great article from the Washington Post this morning. It’s about some of the young guns playing at the Tiger Woods National this week:
There are two common explanations for today’s explosion in young golfing talent, and both involve Tiger Woods.
Schniederjans was not yet in first grade when Woods erupted onto the scene at the 1997 Masters, winning his first major by 12 strokes and setting television ratings records for golf along the way.
By the time the young golfers were deciding which sport to specialize in, Woods was winning his sixth PGA Tour player of the year award in seven seasons.
Schniederjans said he was “fascinated” by Woods in those years. Foley, who worked with Woods from 2010 to 2014, said those historic weekends when Woods was “a fantastic human being in a red shirt and black pants” turned athletic teens into golfers, preventing Schniederjans from potentially becoming a shortstop or Spieth from possibly turning into a quarterback.
Jordan Spieth wouldn’t even be playing golf if not for Tiger Woods. [Editorial Note: Lanny, have you gone off the deep end? Even I can see that is not logical. Jordan Spieth’s younger brother plays basketball at Brown; why wasn’t he affected by Woods if your narrative is true? Besides, I read an article about Jordan choosing golf because he was clearly better at it than other sports. If you don’t start taking this website seriously, it will be taken away from you. — Bruce E.]