The Philadelphia area doesn’t have great luck when it comes to professional golf events. You’d think a sports friendly area of this size would have no trouble playing home to a regular tour stop, but for any number of reasons, that hasn’t been the case. It’s hard to build an event from scratch these days. At the very least you need a great course and a great date, and that’s something a Philadelphia event has never had the pleasure of getting. From the LPGA Championship to the epic failure that was the SEI Pennsylvania Classic the area seems destined to play a lot of golf, but not watch it at its highest level. Even the 2013 United States Open at Merion could be a swan song, unless they decide to roll back the golf ball.
The end for the AT&T National’s two-year run at Aronimink will likely be a quiet one. Tiger Woods announced today that he will not play the event closely tied to his charitable foundation, and that’s likely the biggest bump in media the event will get from here on out. The declining influence of Woods among his fellow pros and the 4th of July date already chipped away at this field, and now it is without its main draw. Dustin Johnson is nice, but even in his diminished state, I’m sure people would rather say, “Do you want to go watch Tiger?”
Last year at Aronimink was the first time I ever saw Tiger play in person, and it wasn’t much of a sight. He shoddily played a few holes while I tried to grab glimpses through the 10-deep galleries. I imagine this year, you’ll be able to follow any pro you’d like over there and have a nice view. I hope there aren’t too many, “where are the Philly sports fans” stories, because like I said this event really isn’t a fair gauge, even with Tiger playing. The course can not stand on its own, despite the fact it mostly got raves in its inaugural run.
If I was the people at Aronimink, I’d set about making the course as difficult as possible. If the heat sticks around and they can dodge a few downpours, the place should be able to play as fast as they’d like it to. I think they could set it up harder than Congressional, and that’s not an exaggeration. Justin Rose won last year at 10-under par, and while the scoring was more densely packed than it was at the US Open, if Aronimink skips out on some easy pins, a winning score in the 6 to 8 under range is not out of the question. I think the ultimate goal for the course was to showcase for a possible PGA Championship, or something similar, so I think they should point everything toward that in their final year with this regular tour event.
It is a shame that Tiger won’t be playing, but I guess we should really be upset that Rory won’t be in attendance. Somehow his win last week has ended the discussion of parity in golf. Prepare for him to win at least 6 of the next 8 majors. It’s a foregone conclusion, along with Phil’s career being over, American golf withering on the vine, and any other extreme conclusion that can be drawn.
So, I guess if you have tickets for the AT&T, I hope you already secured your guests. It might be a little harder to get people to pass up the fireworks now that Tiger and his walking boot are staying home.
Quiz of the Day: Famous Bow-ties. Category: Not Ken Rosenthal. My Score: 20/32.