by Jeff Skinner
The PGA Tour is like most businesses in these difficult economic times: it could use some help increasing its bottom line. There are some players that could help The PGA Tour this year deal with fewer dollars, less viewers and a “Tiger-less” season. We’ll take a look at some of the players that could have a positive impact on the tour this year.
There are four players that sell tickets and raise television ratings for professional golf. Tiger Woods is the biggest draw of course and he is missing in action. Phil Mickelson has a huge following but he won’t play until Torrey Pines. Michelle Wie is a difference maker but thankfully she is concentrating on the LPGA and not the PGA. The last player that moves the needle is teeing it up this week in Hawaii. John Daly is one of the four players that single handedly gets people interested and he can raise the ratings. He did it earlier in his career. He did it when he self-destructed, many times. He did it last year on the European Tour and he’ll do it again this year.
Daly is playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption and he’ll get his share all year. The tournament directors know that Daly will sell tickets and that’s their job: sell tickets. Daly gets people watching golf. After all, he’s like a car wreck, you have to look. Whether Big John is piping it down the fairway or screwing up his personal life, we want to watch him. He’s a cross between a world class golfer and a reality TV show.
As a matter of fact he’ll be starting his second reality show on the Golf Channel in March.
Being John Daly will give us Big John up close. It should be interesting watching because only John Daly can be John Daly. He’s one of a kind and on many occasions he has been his own worst enemy, but we love to watch him.
Go to any PGA event and you’ll see the crowd he draws. There is the Tiger following, the Phil following and then Big John’s is right up there with the two of them. He’s the best card the tour can play now. This is the best time to get him too. Hope springs eternal at the season’s start and John will try to continue his comeback from last season. He’s lost a ton of weight, has redefined his circle of friends and says he is in control and making the right decisions for himself and his family. It’s hard not to root for this guy. We’ve heard this before but I’m hoping John can play well, behave himself and be a force on the tour this year. John and the PGA Tour could sure use it this year.
The Sony Open is a full field event and there is a great mix of experienced players and some exciting youngsters. Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf highlights a few of the good stories at The Sony Open.
During his pre-tournament press conference, Ernie Els was asked about Geoff Ogilvy’s comment that with Tiger gone the number one spot in the world may be up for grabs. Ernie says Phil Mickelson is the man to beat now. Ernie said,” Well, the way Phil Mickelson played at the end of last year, you know, he played with Tiger in Shanghai, won the tournament there on the final. The TOUR Championship he won coming from behind, you know. I mean, the way he is hitting the ball, Phil is hitting it as long, or longer than anybody out there. He has really been working hard. Now his putting is coming around.”