Well, golf has become just that — golf again. Oh, and by golf, I mean boring.
So, a guy named Charl Schwartzel won. Charl, minus the “e” and the “s.” No mind, I guess it’s a South African thing, kind of like indescribable nicknames are a Jersey thing. A quick background on the chap for those who do not know: Charl turned pro in 2002, has played a whopping six events, has not registered any previous top 10 finishes, yet finished -14 to take the 2011 Masters.
Hearty congratulations to the new owner of the illustrious Green Jacket, but I can’t help but wonder, “What if?”
Yes, this Master’s may have been one of the most exciting finishes in the last decade, with the potential for a five-man playoff at the end of the day. Yes, the eventual winner truly deserved it with a blistering four straight birdies on Championship Sunday to wipe out the competition. But let’s truly ponder this for a minute — what if there was that playoff round? It is not so much that I care about the other guys who would have partaken in the extra rounds, but I truly believe — and think I am speaking for the majority of the public when I say this — that a little extra Tiger Woods would have done the PGA well.
In a sport where even the staunchest golf fans only tune in about four times a year for the “big boy” tournaments, name recognition is imperative. Because honestly, the fact that we cannot even pronounce the 2011 champion is exactly what I am talking about.
When Tiger Woods does not play, there is a 50 percent decrease in viewership. Roughly translated, when Tiger Woods does not come to the party, your date is bailing too. No matter if you hate him or love him, he makes you feel. He conjures up emotions in you that are usually reserved for the Kobes and A-Rods of the world, not for a slacks-n-button-up shirt golfer. Tiger brings relevance to a sport that simply cannot rely on anyone else to lift it out of obscurity.
Sure, the young guns are fun to cheer for, as in the case of 23-year-old Jason Day. They’re also fun to groan with, such as the barely-legal Rory McIlroy.
But they will never captivate us, make us drop what we were doing and dedicate an entire afternoon to watching them play. For whatever reason, that is exactly what Tiger Woods does. He stops us dead in our tracks in hopes of providing us with any sort of answer to the now confounding question of, “What will he do next?”
It is where Tiger Woods goes — to the top of the podium or the bottom — that both the PGA and its viewers will follow. We expect greatness. But at the same time, we hope for anything.