by Jeff Skinner
It’s strange the difference one week can make. Coming into this week at the WGC Cadillac Championship there was a distinct buss in golf circles. This season had been very exciting to say the least. We all still had a bit of the Phil Mickelson/Pebble Beach hangover going on. Bill Haas, Phil and Keegan Bradley kept the excitement level up as Haas beat them in a playoff at The Northern Trust Open. Rory McIlroy had his march to number one put on hold by Hunter Mahan at The Match Play Championship but grabbed the top spot with a win at The Honda Classic. And he did it with a flourish as Tiger Woods staged a Sunday charge that fell just short.
Everyone in golf needed to take deep breath with that run of tournaments and it looked like an amazing few weeks lay ahead. All the “players” were hitting their stride. Phil had won and nearly went back to back. Rory did what we all expected; he won and became number one. And Tiger shot his lowest Sunday round ever and finally looked to be reaping the rewards of his fourth swing change.
The three biggest names in golf all had their games in tact and as the season headed to Augusta National next month and it seemed like there was a “perfect storm” of rousing golf brewing. It’s a rite of spring for all of us to hope that The Masters will somehow live up to our expectations. But this year with the level of play that the top golfers had been displaying early on it looked to be a sure bet.
Then yesterday, the thrill ended. With one gimpy walk to a golf cart, a short ride to a Benz and an eerily familiar overhead shot of a trip down the highway many are ready to toss this season away like a used ice pack.
Yes, Tiger’s injury wasn’t a welcome sight for golf fans or television execs. But let’s slow down here for a minute. No one knows how bad this injury is right now and since Tiger handles injuries like Bill Belichick we won’t know anytime soon. If it is a minor issue we all know Tiger can handle some slight discomfort, after all he did win a U.S. Open with a broken leg. But if his injury puts him on the shelf for a bit that doesn’t mean this spring and The Masters will be any less exciting.
One thing that the players have shown this season is that there are plenty of very good golfers out there and while Tiger’s absence from another major will be disappointing it isn’t the end of the world. They’ll still play The Masters and right now a Rory/Phil matchup looks just as enticing as any matchup out there.
I do acknowledge that if Tiger misses The Masters the “perfect storm” would be missing one heavy duty storm front but that doesn’t mean it will be any less compelling. It’s The Masters for crying out loud.