Tiger Woods still hasn’t shown up at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, home of this week’s PGA Championship. He hasn’t told anyone if he plans on showing up either. All we know is that he was not present at last night’s traditional Past Champions Dinner and has requested and been granted an extension to register for the event. He now has until his 8:37 AM tee time Thursday to make a decision.
As everyone continues to speculate and wait for a decision, the question becomes, could a Tiger-less PGA Championship actually be good for golf?
It’s no question that Tiger Woods is the biggest name in professional golf and that people will tune in just to see what he is doing on the course. We have seen television numbers drop to almost historic lows this year without him in the field (It also didn’t help that many of those tournaments were decided well before the final holes as well).
It is also no question either that Tiger is certainly in the down swing of his career. Injuries and age have caused the Jupiter Island resident to look like a shell of his former self in recent years. While he did win five times on Tour last year, he has failed to win a major since his heroic U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines in 2008 over Rocco Mediate on a fractured leg.
As a result there will become a day when Tiger isn’t around anymore and golf fans will have to find other players and story lines to focus on. With the final major of the season 24 hours away and a PGA Tour season that has produced plenty of excitement and stories, why can’t this week be the week that we start to turn our focus to other things and golfers on the course?
Why not start paying attention to what some of the “young guns” are doing. Rory Mcllroy, coming off his back-to-back wins in the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, has re-found his form that put him on the map two years ago. Oh and he’s hitting it even straighter and further than he did when he won the PGA Championship two years ago thanks to a new workout regimen and adding more muscle.
Then there is Rickie Fowler, who thanks in large part to a major swing change by new coach Butch Harmon, has finished in the top five in all three majors so far this year and is inching closer and closer to that first major that so many thought he would have by now when he burst onto the scenes a few years ago.
There is also the minor career resurgence of Sergio Garcia who, despite his back-to-back runner up finishes to Rory, also appears to be much closer to that first major then he did for the better part of a decade when he spent more time playing second fiddle to Tiger and whining about it then winning tournaments.
Oh and Jimmy Walker is trying to do something that no other Tour pro has done before and go wire-to-wire for the FedEx Cup.
There is plenty going on in professional golf right now and it could be one of the more competitive times we have seen on Tour. Anyone can win any week and we have seen that happen this year with all the first time winners on tour. Unfortunately, as we get ready to tee off at the 96th PGA Championship, Tiger Woods once again steals the headlines and he isn’t even there.
With all the excitement and drama that can unfold this week, it brings up the question “Could a Tiger-less PGA Championship be a good thing for golf?”
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