Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Golf

The truth about golf's longing for the next Tiger Woods

RECOMMENDED READING


Did you see? One of "our'' guys won golf's U.S. Open.

Brooks Koepka grew up in Palm Beach County. He won a Florida high school state golf title. He played at Florida State. His brother played at USF.

Good for him. Yay for us.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, here's what else happened over the weekend at the U.S. Open.

A whole lot of nothing.

We've seen the future of golf without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. And I have one word.

Boo.

Actually, boo invokes anger, a little passion, a little interest. Maybe the reaction should be more like: zzzzzz.

Golf is in trouble and the U.S. Open is a prime example.

It's true that this year's U.S. Open was blown to bits by a Molotov cocktail of issues.

The leaderboard was full of no-names. The tournament was played at a course that was much too easy for a typical U.S. Open. And the tournament was on Fox, which many viewers didn't like.

But there's a deeper issue here.

Interest in golf, even among golf fans, is declining.

Golf television ratings have fallen off the cliff. Sunday's final round had the second-worst overnight ratings ever for a final round at the U.S. Open. The Masters had its lowest ratings in 13 years. At one point earlier this year, there were 12 consecutive tournaments when the final round had lower ratings than the final round of those tournaments in 2016.

It's not hard to figure out why.

There's simply no one to hold our interest. We keep waiting for the next Tiger. We keep asking who the next Tiger is going to be.

Time to face reality: There is no next Tiger.

Just look at this past weekend. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day — candidates to be the Next One — all missed the cut at a U.S. Open that practically played like a pitch-and-putt with 31 players finishing below par and seven players shooting at least 10-under. Jordan Spieth, another Next One candidate, was not among those. He finished 1-over.

Okay, so it was just one tournament. We can't write off Rory and Dustin and Jordan over one tournament.

At the same time, you don't get the sense any of those has what it takes to dominate the sport, and that's what golf needs, someone to dominate the sport. As much as we sometimes complain about UConn women's basketball and the Golden State Warriors, it's dynasties and rivalries that make sports great.

Golf was never better than when Tiger was roaring. We long for the days of Jack vs. Arnie, Jack vs. Watson. The window of Tiger vs. Phil is gone with injury wiping out Tiger and age catching up to Phil.

Golf has no dynasty and it has no rivalry and it doesn't even appear to have the makings of either.

McIlroy has now missed the cut in three in the past five majors.

After a fiery start to his career, Spieth has now failed to reach the top 10 in his past five majors.

For all the Dustin Johnson talk, he has won only one major in his career. Same as Jason Day.

In 24 individual PGA events since the start of 2017, we've had 21 different winners. Only Johnson, who has three wins, and Justin Thomas, with two, have won multiple times.

But there's more to it than just winning majors and stringing together top-five finishes.

Does anyone excite you? Does anyone get you to stop and watch when you're channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon? Do you ever see a leaderboard that makes you put off mowing the lawn until Monday?

Forget rooting for a particular golfer, is there any golfer who stirs enough emotion to root against?

Other than Rory, who had a nice little Twitter war with Champions golfer Steve Elkington last week, does anyone have the personality to get fans riled up?

Spieth doesn't. Johnson doesn't. Day doesn't. They're all nice guys, and there's nothing wrong with being a nice guy. But that doesn't excite sports fans.

Here's the problem: Tiger spoiled us.

He gave us incredible golf. He gave us fist pumps. He gave us thrown clubs. He gave us curse words. He gave us intensity. He gave us personality.

He gave some something to love. Or hate.

The fact is that before Tiger came along, golf was a little stiff. And it has gone back to that now that he is gone.

Maybe it's not fair to ask Rory or Jordan or Dustin to be the next Tiger. No one can be Tiger again. Not even Tiger.

But someone needs to step up and take control of a sport that is quickly losing its grip among fans.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones

 
Comments
Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

NAPLES — Lexi Thompson never had a putt so short that was potentially worth so much. She had a one-shot lead when she settled over a 2-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday at the Tour Championship. A victory would be worth $500,000 in prize money ...
Published: 11/19/17

Rookie Sung Hyun Park continues to roll at LPGA’s Tour Championship

NAPLES — Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies Friday at the Tour Championship. Park kept right on attacking. Th...
Published: 11/17/17
Kevin Sutherland wins Charles Schwab Cup Championship, takes Champions season title

Kevin Sutherland wins Charles Schwab Cup Championship, takes Champions season title

PHOENIX — Kevin Sutherland finally broke through on the Champions Tour, taking the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship — and topping the yearlong competition, too. Sutherland closed with 5-under 66 Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Vijay...
Published: 11/12/17

Paul Goydos leads at Champions Tour’s season finale

PHOENIX — Defending champion Paul Goydos took a one-stroke lead Saturday in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Goydos, a first-round co-leader, shot 5-under 66 to reach 12-under 130 at Phoenix Country Club. "This golf...
Published: 11/11/17

Trio share first-round lead at Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup

PHOENIX — Defending champion Paul Goydos and major winners Vijay Singh and Lee Janzen shot 7-under 64 Friday to share the first-round lead in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Bernhard Langer, trying to sweep the Champions Tour’s three playoff eve...
Published: 11/10/17

Patrick Cantlay wins Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in playoff

LAS VEGAS — Patrick Cantlay won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday in a playoff for the first victory in a PGA Tour career mostly derailed by a severe back injury. The former UCLA star, 25, hit from behind a tree and got up-and-down f...
Updated one month ago
J.J. Spaun, Beau Hossler tied for lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

J.J. Spaun, Beau Hossler tied for lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

LAS VEGAS — Beau Hossler and J.J. Spaun shared the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open lead Saturday after another breezy day at TPC Summerlin. Hossler birdied the par-4 15th and 18th holes for his bogey-free 5-under 66, the best round of the day in...
Updated one month ago

J.J. Spaun takes second-round lead at Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

LAS VEGAS — J.J. Spaun shot 6-under 65 on Friday at breezy TPC Summerlin to take the lead in the suspended second round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Spaun rebounded from bogey on the par-4 third with birdies on the par-4 fourth and pa...
Updated one month ago

Kim Meen-Whee leads Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

LAS VEGAS — Kim Meen-Whee birdied two of his final three holes for 6-under 65 and a one-stroke clubhouse lead Friday in the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The 25-year-old South Korean birdied all three par-5 holes at TPC Summerlin, ...
Updated one month ago
Justin Rose overcomes eight-shot deficit to win HSBC Champions

Justin Rose overcomes eight-shot deficit to win HSBC Champions

SHANGHAI — Justin Rose posed with the trophy from the balcony high above the 18th green at Sheshan International, a moment that didn’t seem possible. He started the final round eight shots behind Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world. "The be...
Updated one month ago