Golf: Propped up by The Haters.

Phil: "Next Time I'll give you 4 a Side."

The first thing that strikes me when I look at this picture is how “grizzled” these American golfing giants look.  There’s been plenty of talk lately about how Tiger is an “old” 36.  Well, what does that make Mickelson at 41?  Both these guys have a ton of miles of them and due to vastly different circumstances have probably been aging like a President the last couple of years.  But, they are still unquestionably the two biggest stories in American golf.   The final round pairing Sunday at Pebble Beach was the happening of the year.  Phil’s genius 64 was probably the round of the year.  I imagine TV ratings compared to last year’s AT&T were quite good.  But, like I said, look at that picture.  These guys are not on the fast  track to the Senior Tour, but they’re probably over the peak of their careers–in Tiger’s case possibly by a large margin.

This is why there is always a desperate struggle to find replacements for Tiger and Phil.  At one stage late last year it looked like both of these players were hopelessly off their games.  Now Phil has returned to show that top-side brilliance and Tiger is at least contending, but it’d be a huge surprise if they ever hit 1/2 in the World again, and in a few years you might look up and find them both being non-factors or even retired.  So, with that mind it becomes Rickie Fowler saturation.  It becomes Dustin Johnson idol worship.  It’s promoting everyone under 30 who wins one event with a belly putter.  It’s framing Rory McIlroy’s career in historic terms after a handful of victories and hoping there’s an even younger generation to challenge him at the top.

Golf knows that Tiger and Phil aren’t going to last forever so they throw 20 guys at the fans and hope a couple of them stick.  They hope that someone in that group can really create a reaction or a niche of dominance.  It’s an incredibly tall order and one that I’d say is failing miserably outside of the dedicated golf fan.

Phil and Tiger have two things going for them.  First, they are both extraordinary players.  Yesterday was Phil’s 40th win.      There’s a chance that Phil could be the last player to win 40 times on Tour.  Vijay needs six more (not going to happen) and then the first “youngish” guy to pop up on the list is Adam Scott with 8 wins.  EIGHT.  Is Dustin Johnson going to win 35 more times?  There’s a solid chance that if someone else is going to win 40, we don’t even know about them yet.  They’re some 2-year old pounding large buckets all day somewhere.  And, you take Phil’s 40 wins and 4 Majors and that’s not even 1/2 of Tiger’s career.  Phil long gave up comparing himself to Tiger because there’s no point.  So, one of the reasons these guys create so much is interest is because they’ve simply been better than everyone else.  At times by a large margin.

The other reason they’ll be so hard to replace is they create strong reactions in people.  You ask someone about your average Dustin Johnson, or Keegan Bradley and you’ll likely get a lukewarm response.  “He’s OK.”  “It was nice to see him win…I guess.”  That’s not what Tiger and Phil do.  People love these guys.  They also hate them.  Tiger is on every list of most-hated athletes now, but he’s still got the most supporters at every tournament.  Tiger’s incidents might have actually helped golf, because now you’ve got even more people tuning in just to make sure he loses.  A lot of people don’t want his transgressions washed away with wins. Phil, of course, generates haters with an uncommon ease.  It’s remarkable.

In this era of dwindling golf popularity, I think the powers that be should be thankful for haters.  They’re propping up the sport a bit right now and driving the discussion.  Sunday was a huge injection of new fuel.  A loss by Tiger and more proof that “he’s done,” along with another incredibly annoying win by Phil.  What more could you ask for?  For starters, the PGA Tour should hope that Rory, DJ and the boys start generating some hate.  It’s the only way to go.


23 thoughts on “Golf: Propped up by The Haters.

  1. It doesn’t help that neither of them knows how to dress anymore.

    Is it too early to start using the Y word with Tiger? Or is it a comparative problem–just that we’re so used to seeing him go 100 holes without missing a ten footer or whatever ungodly runs he used to go on.

  2. Tiger might have a little bit of yip in him. I know that when he’s not feeling comfortable/frustrated that he hits a lot of short putts too hard. I mean, I know that feeling. So, it’s probably a form of the yips.

    There is the fact that he’s competing against his own standard and that we also see every one of his putts. If a normal guy misses a 3, 4 footer or two on Thursday and Friday you’ll never hear about it, but with Tiger it’s leading the coverage montage.

    he was especially bad yesterday, though. Or at least it seemed.

  3. According to the PGA’s stat department, Tiger lost 1.47 shots per round putting last week. Which for the uneducated is horrific. That’s that new stat they fell in love with last year. Essentially an average tour putter shoots -14 with Tiger’s ball-striking at Pebble Beach. A good putting week and he wins easily. So, I guess that’s pretty damning.

  4. Isn’t it possible Phil just went off and Tiger wouldnt have won either way. I think it was 12 or 14 (?) where he chipped in and could have gotten some momentum, some wind in his sails….and then phil sinks a winding a*s 30 footer. Maybe he misses that and Tiger gets some life, and putting seems to be one of those things where momentum makes you that much better at it. Things just start to fall.

  5. Well, Tiger may not have won regardless, but it’s not like he finished 2nd, he ended up way down the board. He was already 2 over on the day and well behind when he holed that bunked shot. That definitely was his last gasp, but he was leaking oil the whole way.

  6. I’m incredibly pumped over golf right now. Haven’t watched college basketball at all. My life is consumed by golf. So pissed at Tiger, but now he’s got fuel for winning the Masters.

    I’m going out and saying this year’s Masters is the greatest of all time. Seriously. Tiger will be hitting his stride. Phil may be rebounding and Rory is playing pretty well. Imagine those three coming down the stretch with Adam Scott in hot pursuit. No more puke leaderboards. I. Need. Golf.

  7. I think Phil is going to be a total beast at the Masters. I really think the guy has a motivation problem. About the only way he can add to his legacy these days is by winning majors. He was kind of aimless all year, couple good rounds, couple bad and then he gets paired with Tiger on Sunday and he snaps to attention and shoots 64. That can’t be a total coincidence. And, if he keeps putting well…Augusta has been his track.

    I’ll be picking Fred to win, of course, but Phil would be my 2nd choice right now.

    If Rory wins the Masters I might actually cry. Real tears of despair.

    • I can’t hide it. I love Rory. I hope he lives up to the hype of being better than Tiger. Why all the hate for Rory? He seems like a good kid who is genuine and has a ton of talent.

      • agreed dubs…when i see him on golf mag covers and such…i notice he appears super uncomfortable with glamour shots…mabe why i heart him.

        and he has a solid swing? tight. real tight.


  8. See–Rory strikes me as a bit of a douche. I am anti-euro. I can’t pretend to hide that. But the guy refers to himself and his gf by their celeb couple name “Wozilroy”.

    And, I think way too much of him was made too soon. Comparing him to tiger I think is a joke. He’ll never putt like Tiger in his prime so he’ll never win anywhere near as much. There’s too many guys that hit it great and can get hot on the greens for 1 week.

    Kid’s been on tour for what 4 years now? 5? And he’s got about that many wins.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t hit it great, he does, but we’ve got to simmer.

    Also, gets way too much credit for losing tournaments.

  9. Rory is absolutely a douche, arrogant and extremely rude. His GF is apparently just as bad.

    I mean, at this point he’s not that much better (relative to wins/close losses) than a guy like Dustin Johnson. Outside the one major win for Rory, their records relative to majors is extremely similar and DJ has more tour wins. McIlroy can suck it.

  10. well, i’m all for ripping Rory, but I’m not sure you can go there. 1 major vs. 0 majors is a pretty big step, especially when Rory’s win was one of the most dominant of all-time. And, he’s consistently been in the top-3 in the World. I’m not a huge DJ fan, either. 10 cent head and the most boring personality of all-time.

  11. I’m not bemoaning DJ being “underrated” nor saying he’s equal, i’m just pointing out the disparity between the media’s treatment of Rory and his results. Yes, a major is a big step, but DJ has a 2nd place finish and that was due to his own collapse, so I think betting on him to win one at some point isn’t a far fetch. But the point is simple that Rory gets treated like he’s a dominant player and is in contention every tournament and wins regularly running away and hiding….and that’s just not the case.

    Disappointed in my girl’s body paint pictures. Sad day for Alex and I as a couple.

  12. I was at the Pro Am all week covering the tournament for my site and I found the media and spectators lemming like following of Tiger disturbing. They were so blinded by their belief/desire for Woods to win that most people missed great golf that was being played last week, including Wi’s performance at Spyglass on Saturday and Mickelson’s at Pebble on Sunday. I followed Wi on Sunday and it was embarrassing that “Horde” following the Woods/Mickelson group basically ignored Phil’s play until the 13th/14th. Then when they were sure that Tiger wasn’t going to win, they threw their support at Phil, acting like they were life long fans. Pathetic.

    I’m truly beginning to wonder if Woods is becoming a detriment to the long term health of the game.

    If you have a chance check out my article on the final round and my complete coverage from the week:


    • I think there is a difference between the golf fan that goes to the tournament to follow Tiger and the regular golf fan. It’s like saying the fans that call sports radio are representative of the whole fan base. It’s usually just a vocal minority. Tiger brought a lot of fans into golf and a lot of them remain fans of Tiger only.

      Among more traditional golf fans I think the sport is in fine hands, but as far as overall popularity and viewership I think the sport has peaked–at least for the time being. When TIger goes away, a lot of fans will follow, but I don’t know how his presence can be considered a detriment. Think of the generation of players that grew up inspired him. Do all these young kids have the work ethics, the games, the precocious poise without TIger?

      He also reset the bar. Before Tiger Woods Jack’s 18 majors might as well have been the 56-game hitting streak. Now, Tiger still has a chance at bettering it, but every golfer from 12-25 knows that kind of dominance is possible.

      • The latest figure that I heard was attendance for the Pro Am was up 25% this year because of Tiger’s appearance, so clearly more people came to the tournament because of Woods. However, being at the tournament, it was honestly more like a 50/50 split between supporters and haters in the galleries that followed Tiger (and please tell me how you define a “regular” fan at any sporting event). But love him or hate him, people were drawn to him because there was a chance to witness something great. It was the same with the media’s coverage of the event. The focus was more on Tiger and not the great things other players were doing on the course.

        My point about him possibly being a determent to the long term health of the game is that the fixation on Tiger could be heading in a very unhealthy direction and taking away from great things and stories happening in the game. Certainly this is the case in the media.

        And when speaking of detriment I was talking about what he has done in the past but rather what he is doing for the game now and the future.

      • Who goes to sporting events to see the mundane? Everyone goes in the hopes of seeing something spectacular. And define “great”.

      • A regular fan is someone who goes to the event to spectate and not to drink and draw attention to themselves. Or, just the golf fan on his couch, who follows the game and knows more than 5 players on Tour.

        I’m not sure what you are arguing for? You want equal coverage for Wi and Woods? That’s never going to happen. It’s totally unrealistic. When Tiger goes away, golf will go away to a certain extent. Kind of like American’s interest in tennis. They don’t really care about Nadal and company so tennis is a total afterthought now compared what it used to be when Agassi and those guys were around. And, golf will have a similar fate in the US when Tiger fades away unless he’s replaced by someone as dominant or charismatic. Golf will always have fans, but it’ll be less popular in general–a trend that’s already started.

        You’re saying that people are missing great performances by others, I’d argue that golf fans are not missing those performances. It’s Tiger fans that are missing them. And, they don’t care and won’t start caring.

  13. The people’s love for Tiger will probably be as detrimental to golf as the fans adoration of MJ was to basketball, the insane following Maguire/Sosa generated during their MLB race and when casual fans blindly followed Gretzky. All of those completely sullied the reputation of the respective sports and in the long run, ruined the popularity of those games. I mean, look at the NFL and what those bastard fans of Namath did to it…..

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