by Jeff Skinner
Believe it or not this is my first post on Tiger Woods in three full weeks. My last “Tiger Post” was on June 8th. Taking that long between Tiger stories is borderline blasphemy in the golf blogging world and most editors would probably fire someone if that was the case at a magazine or newspaper. But the truth is I haven’t missed him.
I am probably in the minority when I say that but I think this golf season has had plenty of excitement and enough personalities to keep real golf fans interested. So the television ratings are lower and web traffic slows down without Tiger in the mix but that doesn’t concern me. Interesting people playing exciting golf is what I want to see and so far 2011 has done the job.
The season started with great stories like Mark Wilson and rookie Johnny Vegas and Phil and Bubba battling it out at Torrey Pines. We had interesting winners like D.A. Points, Aaron Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland and Philly Mick even got us excited the week before The Masters.
Rory may have had a meltdown at The Masters (we know how that story played out) but Charl Schwartzel was a deserving winner. After Augusta, Brendan Steele broke through for a win and Bubba made it two for 2011. Lucas Glover taught us to Fear the Beard and K.J. Choi showed us that he is a real Player, as in The Players Champion.
It was at the Players that Tiger withdrew after nine holes when he aggravated his knee but since then the 2011 season has been just fine. The battle for World Number One is now a week to week proposition and the top ten changes more often than Ian Poulter’s trousers. Tiger isn’t the only golfer that we recognize by a single name. Now we have Rory, Luke, Westy, Compton, Cantlay, Bubba, G-Mac and Matteo. Since Tiger left us we’ve had some oldies but goodies make their stand against the onslaught of youth that has taken the tour on. David Toms, Steve Stricker and Harrison Frazar showed us that maybe 40 is the new 20. And how can we forget The Golf Boys.
Now the PGA Tour moves to Philly and the A.T.&T. National hosted by Tiger. At Tiger’s press conference he said he won’t return until he is 100% healthy and maybe that is what he should have done all along. But while he does bring plenty of excitement to the game, it only works when he can play and play well. Other than that he has been reduced to an annoying side show attraction. Hopefully he can get healthy and return to the tour with a new perspective.
If he’s been watching he got to see winners and losers that handle themselves with class on and off the course. He was witness to many a champion that was humble, thankful and grateful. He saw a U.S. Open Champion that played mind-boggling golf and was smiling the entire time. He also got to see him answer questions thoughtfully and honestly and treat the press like they were equals. Heck, Rory even signed autographs afterwards and had a few pints out of the trophy.
All in all, the 2011 golf season has been fine without Tiger Woods. Tiger may need golf more than golf needs Tiger right now. His absence has allowed many talented players to show the world there is more to golf than just one self-absorbed player. Could it be that men’s golf is more interesting and volatile without Tiger? Hmmm…interesting concept, isn’t it.