Friday, April 27, 2007

Column of the Week - Sawgrass can stay on the Island

Every season following our first major, I like to open the PGA Tour schedule and see what is on our plate before our national championship.

Normally, it reads like a Mitch Albom novel – you won’t be mad you paid attention but there is probably more interesting things to occupy your time (namely the NBA playoffs, the Kentucky Derby, and probably anything on TNT after 11 PM). After the Master’s last year, the only victors worth noting were Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. Some of the other winners (yawn, because this will induce the eye rub)….Brett Wetterich, Stephen Ames, Tim Herron, Carl Pettersson and Jeff Maggert.

What is different about this year that makes the transition between Augusta’s undulations and the U.S. Open’s rough bearable - the ingenious idea to include the PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass. I might be in the minority on this, but I love BIG tournaments played at the same boring golf course. I love when the British Open is in St. Andrews, I love seeing the U.S. Open at Pebble and I’m a complete sucker for the Masters. I rate the PLAYERS on the same scale – traditional, interesting and never boring to watch (but remember, I’m the same guy that believes the PGA Championship should go back to match-play).

Moving the PLAYERS to the middle of May does a ton of good things. First, it alleviates the boredom between the two majors. This is important because fans like seeing the best players in the world actually playing for more than a purse (i.e., guys showing up for any of the WGC events). Golfers like Tiger Woods and Ernie Els legitimately want to win at Sawgrass because it pins them the PLAYERS Champion (what sounds better). Second, the move allows some of the best players in the world some WD-40 time. That is, they can work out the kinks in tournaments leading up to the event, unlike in the past when it used to be THE first tournament everyone played. I like the move because you’ll see better golf by the best golfers, unlike in the past couple of years when big named foreign players came in looking more like they were trying to swat flies than swing irons.

The main reason for this lies with the tanking idea of the Fedex Cup, which is getting as much exposure at this point as the Tiger Tour (I even read an article in a big golf publication last week that referred to a players standing in Money List terms instead of Fedex Cup points…made me laugh).

The bottom line – I thank you PGA Tour for giving us a pallet cleanser in between the two majors. I loved the Masters side salad and I’m excited for the medium-well beef we should be expecting at Oakmont come June.

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