Either you're a golf fan or you're a Tiger fan, and I think we really need to figure out which one each of us are.
Golf fans loved the final round of the Players Championship, and the entire week at TPC Sawgrass. It gave us just about every storyline, from Phil Mickelson making a charge only to fall back on Friday, to Graeme McDowell showing life for the first time since the Chevron. It showed us that even major championship winning Northern Irishmen can flirt with 80 in a final round, and there's something about this golf course that makes Paul Goydos play like Sam Snead. It gave us glimpses of Garcia, hints of Hunter and a turtle that will forever live in Players past, and it event tossed in a playoff to make 2011 continue on it's wacky route.
Tiger fans didn't love it. He withdrew early on Thursday, never to be seen again. Tiger fans turned off their televisions and watched tennis or "Bridesmaids" or Kevin Durant. They didn't care that David Toms was trying to win for the first time 2006. That K.J. Choi was trying to be the first Korean to fly his flag above the majestic clubhouse. That Luke Donald and Nick Watney were trying to add to their already tremendous seasons. Tiger fans care about Tiger and not much else.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski tweeted early on Sunday, " There is no such thing as a 5th Major, but final round of TPC should be a gas. Rly interesting leaderboard and usual weirdness of the course," only to write an entire column about how bad this was for golf. I always enjoy Wojo's writing, but I have to disagree with the following point:
This is the supposed "fifth major," but the guy who won it hasn't cashed a tour victory check since the 2008 Sony Open. The guy he beat, David Toms, hasn't won on tour since the 2006 Sony. And the guy who finished third, Paul Goydos, hasn't won since the 2007 Sony.
PlayStations for everybody!
Choi turns 41 this Thursday. Toms is 44. Goydos is 46. It was like the Champions Tour Lite.
The most interesting part about his point there? I bet if you asked Gene, or any sportswriter north of rental car age, what their favorite golf moment was, they'd all bring up the 1986 Masters, and I'm fairly certain that Jack Nicklaus was in his 40s when he won that tournament. Hummm. I guess that doesn't matter when you're named Toms or Choi.
The tournament was great, and if people want more young guys to win, I have a simple solution; tell the young guys to play better golf. Until then, people like Toms will compete because they have the game to compete. We love Rickie Fowler, but how many wins does he have? I am totally impressed with the games of Dustin Johnson and Hunter Mahan, but how many times have they parred the 18th hole at PGA Championship to win a major? Exactly. It takes a long time to learn how to win events on the PGA Tour, and just because Tiger did it at such an astonishing, and young, age doesn't mean that will become the norm. Golfers are too good these days, and on any given week a player from the middle of the talent pack can ride a hot putter to the winner's circle.
A good friend of mine called on Sunday morning and said he had a point about golf he wanted to pass by me. He asked if golf was turning into professional poker, where on any given week a guy could win that most people had never heard of, and if this is bad for the game. I answered that I didn't think it was, because everyone is so good these days that it'll be a long time before we have a four-time winner in a single season. Those days of Tiger and Vijay winning 10 tournaments are done, and if you like golf, that's awesome. Every week is completely unpredictable, and that's beautiful. It's how golf is supposed to be. We all deal with it daily on the golf course; one day you have your best stuff, the next you can barely find the face on a wedge.
If you're a golf fan you probably understand. If you're just a Tiger fan, you probably stopped reading this six graphs ago.