Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Z_CNHI News Service

April 17, 2014

Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a five-foot putt.

The course was there in all its splendor. You couldn't miss the dogwoods. Bubba Watson was his composed, confident self.

But drama was nowhere to be found.

With Tiger Woods on medical leave and Phil Mickelson given a rare weekend pass after two uninspired opening rounds, the Masters fizzled. That’s to be expected when the game’s big stars are missing.

Also AWOL were fans who normally park in front of their TV sets but this year were off doing something else. The final round earned a 7.8 TV rating, which means only 7.8 percent of U.S. households watched Watson score a three-shot victory over second-place finishers Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt. That was the lowest final-round rating since 2004, when Mickelson donned a green jacket at the end of the day.

With Woods and Mickelson now well into the back nine of their careers, PGA executives, fans and businesses aligned with the game must be wondering who will step up and win our attention. Athletic skill is a prerequisite, but it also takes someone with charisma and charm.

Watson could be the one. He enjoys boyish good looks, and who can’t help but pull for someone named Bubba? Furthermore, his game speaks for itself.

The one rub on him is that he can be prickly. He’s had run-ins with other golfers – not always a gentleman in the ultimate gentleman’s game. Also, he’s been quick to admonish a caddie for selecting the wrong club or when a shot is misplayed. Attribute some of that to a fiercely competitive nature, but those remain traits that cause most fans to cringe.

Perhaps Watson is learning valuable lessons about his image, especially in this day of instant information. He certainly burnished his reputation after winning the Masters by taking his family and friends to the Waffle House for a celebratory gathering as well as hash browns. That common touch is sure to score well with those who like to see the human side of their sporting heroes.

Woods and Mickelson have literally and figuratively been the face of professional golf for so long, it’s hard to imagine who has the polish and poise to supplant them.

Watson, who has won the Masters twice in the past three years, is well positioned to become the guy the field is constantly chasing.

Spieth, who was merely a toddler when Woods captured his first Masters in 1997, at age 22 became the youngest player to make the final two-some at the Masters. He didn’t win but it wasn’t for wilting under pressure. The experience he gained is invaluable.

Both Watson and Spieth are ranked in the most recent World Golf Rankings’ Top 10, which features five Americans and five foreign players. One would expect to find Woods (1st) and Mickelson (8th) at the top of any leader board; Watson (4th) and Spieth (9th) seem set for many years to come.

While their games are exceptional, will the public come to endorse Watson or Spieth as it has other golfing greats?  Or will that honor, and responsibility, fall to someone else?

It could be Matt Kuchar, or perhaps someone else just waiting for a chance to step into the pro spotlight and dramatically win a championship as well as the public’s fascination.

Despite their ailments, Tiger and Phil still have the hearts of champions. They've won a combined 19 major championships. There could be more, although Woods hasn’t won one since 2008. (Mickelson captured the British Open last year.)

Golf is a game driven by great players, but the majors also need tension and excitement. That’s what was missing at the Masters.

Bring back the drama, and you’ll bring back the fans.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Posturing, predictions fly as SEC turns to a new season

    Little news is truly made at the Southeastern Conference's media days, where players and coaches predict, insinuate and deflect in advance of this fall's college football season.
     

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg James bears the weight of Cleveland's championship dreams

    Can LeBron James change Cleveland sports history? Overcoming this city's tortured curse could prove impossible - even for the world's best basketball player.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 8, 2014

  • Happy birthday, America. Now legalize fireworks.

    Through the smoke of Roman candles and bottle rockets, the absurdity of Americans' obsession with do-it-yourself explosives is nonetheless clear: One day each year, we gather with neighbors, friends and loved ones to blow stuff up in our backyards. Go, U.S.A.!

    July 4, 2014

Featured Ads
Mineral Wells Index


Click on a photo to visit our SmugMug page

Front page
Weather Underground Radar
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Must Read
Seasonal Content
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide