PGA Tour: Life Without Tiger
Despite his presence on the PGA Tour for the past couple of months following a much-publisized hiatus, Tiger Woods has all but disappeared in the minds of golf fans and sponsors... at least for now. However, this new era of the World #1's career might offer a glimpse into what may turn out to be the not-so-distant future: the Tour without Tiger.
With his showing in the 2010 US Open over this past weekend, Woods showed the world that he is no longer the same player we witnessed in past years. Entering the final round of the Championship, Woods was likely hoping to just post a solid round and hope for a collapse at the top of the leaderboard. When that collapse came in the form of Dustin Johnson shooting 5-over in two holes, Tiger failed to make a move that almost everyone thought he would. Instead, the eventual winner in Graeme McDowell skillfully posted a score good enough for the task at hand, just as a seasoned veteran should.
Woods was left to his excuses following the round, blaming his poor performance on Sunday on "three mental mistakes" between he and caddy Steve Williams. When asked in a post-round interview about what might have been, Woods responded with brief sternness and a touch of pouting, eluding to the possibility that not even he knew what went wrong.
In terms of the PGA as a business, it has been no mystery as to what drives revenue at tournaments: Tiger in the field. However, following his recent personal/public problems, Tiger has chosen to become even more reserved and picky in terms of events to attend. In terms of the events Tiger has chosen to play, he has made little to no splash in terms of showing the talent and dominance we have all grown accustomed to witnessing. Instead, we have seen a PGA golfer who simply treads water... if making the cut at all.
In essence, Tiger Woods is no longer Tiger Woods.
From this point on, Woods will be faced with an uphill battle to not only rebuild his game, but also his image to fans. Unfortunately, many golf fans have turned their nose to the former superstar for reasons ranging from the desire to cheer for morals to being hurt that a role-model could be so dishonest. Fans (and people in general) don't like having mud smeared on their faces especially when the idol turns out to be even more filthy.
In the wake of the tabloid reports and constant media chatter, other stars are being born on Tour... many of which have been around for years. Ricky Barnes continues to play well in almost every event he enters. Rickie Fowler and Rory McElroy surpass their years in terms of talent and potential. Veterans like Ernie Els continue a type of rebirth of their own, which can also be seen in the FedEx Cup rankings. Phil Mickelson patiently and skillfully waits for his chance to finally take over the World Golf Rankings... perhaps once and for all.
Now is an odd time for PGA Tour fans. In a way, we are seeing the future of the Tour while the sport's "savior" remains in the field, almost like a shadow of what once was. While two Majors, a Ryder Cup, and numerous events remain on the schedule, many golf fans are beginning to realize that the pecking order has shifted in the PGA, regadless if one particular player chooses to accept it or not.