The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

 

Protection From Who?

 

Lee Westwood is the man who replaced Tiger Woods atop the World Golf Rankings.  The fickle ranking system had always been able to point to Tiger comfortably on top as proof of its efficiency, but when Tiger slid from the top rung and there wasn’t a dominant player to replace him, many golf people wondered just how accurate the rankings really were.  Westwood, though unquestionably one of the least dominant #1s ever, probably took a little more heat than he deserved.  He didn’t crown himself, but people looked at his general failure in closing out majors and poor PGA Tour record as signs that he was merely a place holder.  On Monday, Martin Kaymer will replace Westwood atop the rankings, and for the first time since Tiger left the top spot, there will be a number one with the look of a player who might stick around for a while.

Kaymer lost Sunday’s match play final to Luke Donald, who played out of his mind all week, but he was the only one of the number one seeds that looked anything like the part.  Phil Mickelson was torched by Rickie Fowler in the 2nd round, and he’ll be out of the top-5 on Monday.  Lee Westwood couldn’t make the 3rd round either, but they both did better than Tiger who lost on the opening day to Thomas Bjorn.  Kaymer, who plays the majority of his golf on the European Tour where he’s been winning with regularity for the last 12 months,  has now won the PGA Championship and finished 2nd in the WGC match play in his last two American starts.  If it wasn’t for Phil Mickelson’s recent dominance over Augusta National, Kaymer would be a cut and dried, runaway favorite to win the Masters.

The odd thing about Kaymer is that, at 26, isn’t much older than all the young phenoms that the golf world has tried to force down our throats in recent years.  Kim, McIlory, Fowler, Ishikawa, Day, the list goes on and on, but the sum total of those careers barely equal what Kaymer has done in relative anonymity.  Since Kaymer is German, he’s been blanketed with the standard adjectives: precise, calculating, stoic.  This is Bernhard Langer 2.0.  And, there is some truth in that.  Kaymer doesn’t seem much interested in celebrity status or amassing Twitter followers.  The question is, is having Kaymer on top good for golf?

The default opinion is that Tiger needs to get back to number one, but right now Tiger is so far from being in the discussion, that you have to start contemplating a golf world where Tiger does not reascend to the throne.  The reason that McIlroy, Kim, Fowler and company get all the attention is because they are the players that look capable of carrying the torch.  Right now, Kaymer looks capable of winning a lot of golf tournaments, but past that, who knows?  I think Kaymer, because of his approach, is going to have to win a tremendous amount to capture the American golf audience.  And, even then he might only earn begrudging respect.

Since the Europeans have taken over golf (currently 4 of the top 5 players for the first time since ’92), it has been interesting for me to gauge reaction to this on various golf blogs and the like.  I think Americans have always liked to look down at the European Tour to a certain extent, and because of that attitude, European golf fans have developed an incredible chip on their shoulders.  They remind me a bit of Jets fans.  At their first chance they began hooting and hollering, but unlike Jets fans they actually have some real things to celebrate these days.  Your standard American golf fan, though, still seems unimpressed and disinterested in the Euros (I know they can play, just constantly root against them).  While I think a rivalry could be good, if it goes back and forth, I wonder what will happen if the Americans continue to lose their grip in the rankings.  Could golf be headed for a swoon like tennis faces in this country without a lineup of American stars?  I think in Europe they are accustomed to watching golf with just a sprinkling of players from their own country, but if that were to happen here, I wonder if we’d just as soon tune out for good.

 

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20 thoughts on “The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

  1. dude, the guy who just won for best short film at the oscars…is like a morph of 3-Putt’s hair and Rand’s vivacious personality in high school.

    amazing. loved that dude…go NYU film.

    oh. and thanks 3-Putt, I feel like I am up to date on my golf now…that new number one is a cute…he’s like my Tom Brady of golf? oh, no, wait that’s 3-Putt.

    Q

  2. unbelievable. i officially know NOTHING about film…oscar for film editing went to social network? for realz? maybe those two dudes have street cred from ben button, for realz? how many shots of the charles river should have been deleted? how many shots of those twins should have been deleted? how hard is it to edit a fast paced party?

    q

  3. I’m rooting for Kaymer to be dominant for awhile as a heel–the German cyborg robogolfer with a European man-scarf. It will give a reason to root against him, and I will really be pulling for some of the young Americans to knock him down. It’s Rocky and Ivan Drago all over again, so long as you are vague about the whole Russian/German thing.

    I don’t know. I’m looking for some angle here. It would really be good for someone to set the standard for awhile.

  4. If it ever got to the point where Tiger or Phil was really an underdog that might be good. Even though Kaymer is better than them now, if they won the Masters or something it wouldn’t be a giant upset. But if Kaymer really pummels everyone for a while, then Tiger or Phil might be able to win over some Tiger/Phil haters on the underdog theory. A good underdog usually trumps hate (this would apply more to Phil)

  5. I’m on board with the underdog theory. American’s love underdogs, and if Phil or Tiger can get their shit together enough to conistently give the young Euros some competition on Sundays than it should make for some good tv. Personally, I’m hoping that Daly proves to be the savior of American golf dominance.

  6. Fowler trouncing Phil might be a good thing for the young guy. Little bit of confidence, still young so room to improve, who knows?

    Ivan Nova, welcome to the NY Hype Machine. T-Minus 1 more good start before he’s the second coming of Pedro.

  7. my favorite part of the yankees/phils telecast was the tidbit where they said Bartolo Colon wanted to lose 25 pounds. For reference, they said he was 5’10”, 270. So, his goal weight at 5’10” is 245 lbs. This is why they say pitchers aren’t athletes.

    I guess Nova looked pretty good. so did Joba. of course, so did Joe Blanton, so we have to put things in perspective.

  8. Bartolo “Impacted” Colon is ridiculous. There’s no way he’s under 300lbs. He’s practically a circle. Watching him, all I could think about was whether they have to pry the wings and burritos away from him in the dugout to get him to run out there and pitch.

    Yeah, i’m not excited, i was just referencing the NY hype machine getting it’s engine revved up. If Nova is what is making or breaking the Yanks this year, there’s bigger problems. I mean, Burnett almost killed a guy in his throwing session, not a good sign for the year.

  9. haha…

    i mean, i’m excited about baseball, but at the same time it is still too early.

    watching that game on saturday i was kind of pumped up about it, but at the same time, i knew it was completely pointless.

  10. I would’ve rather watched guys flailing, diving, ducking for their lives against Burnett. That would have been entertainment. The NY Post already ran an article all fired up about Nova and Betances. Yeesh.

  11. I’m beyond pissed now.

    Tiger wants to go back to his roots, be the person he once was, blah, blah, blah.

    So what does he do?

    He says he’s going to look more closely at his faith, which was important to him, focus on family and everything else he used to.

    Here’s my question: If he is going back to everything he used to do, why doesn’t he do the same with his profession?

    Go back to Butch, Titleist irons, ugly Nike shirts, and everything else imagineable.

  12. Well, you could make the argument he still wears ugly Nike shirts…

    But seriously, do you buy into the theory that he can’t swing the way he used to because his knee is basically wrecked? How broken down is this guy?

  13. I but into the theory that Sean Foley is an ass clown and anything associated with stack and tilt blows.

    Take the club back, hit the piss out of it, repeat. He’s thinking way too much for a guy who has that much natural ability.

  14. I’m sure there is some truth to that, but anyone who has played knows sometimes it is hard to pull that off, no matter how good you are.

  15. Even if the knee is wrecked and he can’t light up the driver/long irons like he used to, he should be able to adjust and still be dominant. It doesn’t explain his flat out inability to read or sink a putt, and his inaccuracy with his short irons.

  16. good point about the putting, I guess. that shouldn’t be impacted, but Tiger’s game was often just a big snowball of momentum. And, maybe now his long game is keeping him from rolling with everything else.

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