Dominance or Parity: What is better for golf?

Who is the best golfer in the world right now?  Some will say Dustin Johnson, he’s the #1 ranked player in the world.  But that is just a ranking.  If I was asked this question, I would have a very difficult time answering.  And it may simply depend on who I think is playing better on the day I was asked.  That’s how close it is these days.

Flashback 10 years to June 2008, who is the best player in the world?  Well Tiger Woods just beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff to win the US Open, his 14th major championship.  The answer was easy, it’s Tiger.

So what is better for the overall state of golf, the 2018 parity or the 2008 dominance?

When Tiger Woods won 14 majors in an 11-year span from 1997-2008, the golf world was in awe.  He won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots at Pebble Beach.  He had 38 Top 10’s in Majors including 24 Top 3’s.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind who the best golfer in the world was and fans were more than ok with that.  He WAS golf.  His brand completely took over and revolutionized the game, attracting fans for all backgrounds sports or otherwise.  Then personal matters, injuries, and long layoffs from the game happened.  Golf ratings were down, the “Tiger Effect” was a real thing and revenues were taking a hit.

Think back to the mid-2000’s, how many top notch players can you think of? Well there’s Phil Mickelson of course, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Ernie Els.  Sure there may be a few others but not many.  That’s a short list.  And while these players were good, they were miles behind Tiger Woods.

Now think of 2018.  Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm and many more make up the new age of golf.   All of these young players are exciting to watch week in and week out.  They all can step up their games and be the best player in the world any given week.  When Tiger Woods was in his prime, no one was taking him off his perch at the top without winning multiple tournaments IN A ROW.

So what is better for the game?  Ratings-wise, Tiger playing in a tournament is going to be significantly better than him not playing.  But ratings aside, I prefer the parity of today’s game.  Not having 1 player heavily favoured to win every week is great for golf.  Especially when you have a very good group of players making up the top notch guys.  Sprinkle in some potential feel good stories from the older guys (like Sergio’s Masters win or Tiger’s comeback) and the 2018 version of the PGA Tour is at it’s all time best in my opinion.

Now just imagine if Tiger wins another major.

Turn That Smylie Upside Down

Flash back to April 2016 when we first met the Bro Squad. Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Smylie Kaufman. Four young, very talented golfers jet setting to the Bahamas for Spring Break. Every guy from 18-45 years old was drooling in envy of #sb2k16.

Then these four party boys had to go and do it again for #sb2k17. It seemed as though nothing could stop these maniacs. They had the friendship, the money, and the skills.

Flash forward to June 2018. Justin Thomas has two wins this season and a short stint as World Number 1. Jordan Spieth is the defending Open Champion and was 3rd at the 2018 Masters. Rickie Fowler was 2nd at the same 2018 Masters and is 13th in Official Money Earnings this season……..

Smylie Kaufman has missed 13 consecutive cuts and 17 of the past 18.

Poor Frownie is having a tough go. I cannot think of a more excruciating feeling than that of my close friends excelling while I continue to struggle to put it together. An epic disaster of a season which could be caused by a few different factors:

  1. Marriage – This past #sb2k18 was not spent in the Bahamas but rather attending his own wedding. Certainly an occasion to be celebrated but a far cry from the antics of the past two years.
  2. Name Pressure- No doubt it is hard to always put on a happy face. Carrying the weight of the name Smylie is no easy task.
  3. Group Success – While the other group members excel, perhaps the young man is just feeling the heat and his skills are failing him.

Luckily there is plenty of PGA season left to turn it around and retain his PGA Tour Card for years to come. Hopefully the other members of the Bro Squad don’t go too hard on the poor chap, I know I would.

 

Phil Mickelson – The GLOAT

Phil’s US Open Antics Prove Why He Is The GLOAT

When someone says left-handed golfer, who is the first player you think of?  If you didn’t answer Phil Mickelson, then you are probably lying.  Ok, maybe a bit harsh.  However, the numbers are there, the wins are there, the personality is there.  We are witnessing history every time this man steps foot on the golf course.  Yes folks, we are witnessing the GLOAT (Greatest Lefty Of All Time).

If you are reading this article, there is a pretty good chance you caught a glimpse of what ol’ Lefty got up to this past weekend.  Coming in as one of the Vegas favourites to win the tournament, Phil came out with a disappointing 77 on Thursday.  Uh oh, a missed cut perhaps.  Not so fast, Phil shoots 69 Friday and gets to play the weekend.  Paired with Beef Johnston on Saturday, Phil the thrill was all set for his 48th birthday round.  Unfortunately for him, the conditions at Shinnecock Hills resembled those of a Wal-Mart parking lot more than a golf course.  The “greens” were some sort of weird brown concrete and the pin placements were tougher than that friggin “ant-hill” hole at the local mini-golf course.

Phil was 4 over and looking at a downhill 18 footer for bogey on the 13th green.  His putt was a bit hefty however and it was about to go flying down the hill and off the green into an impossible lie.  But the GLOAT said “not today, not on my birthday” and hit the still-moving ball back towards the hole.  For those new to golf, this is an automatic 2 stroke penalty.  Phil would go on to make a 10 and laugh about it with Beef walking off the green.  This wasn’t as cool as Roy McAvoy’s 12 at the US Open but it was still a pretty neat 10.

GOOD For Golf

The USGA decided not to DQ him despite his purposeful breaking of the rules.   But really, who cares?  So what if he hit a moving ball…we’ve all done it. This is one of the top 10 players in golf history (a discussion for another day perhaps), him doing stuff like this is GOOD for golf.  John Daly is GOOD for golf.  Happy Gilmore is GOOD for golf.  Ok you get the point. After his 81 Saturday, Phil came out Sunday and shot 69 and had a blast doing it.  There was a fan who was wearing a Donald Duck hat and following Phil around (why wouldn’t you).  There are a lot of guys on Tour with no personality (I won’t name names) who would probably think the hat was stupid.  Not Phil.  Every time he saw this fan, he gave the hat a little rub for luck and had a bunch of fun with it. He’s always having a good time out there; perhaps making some wagers, signing stuff for the kids, laughing with other players etc.

Whether he’s playing like Phil the thrill or Phil the dill, he is must-see TV. It’s all of this, combined with his 43 wins (9th all-time) and 5 majors that undoubtedly make Phil Mickelson the GLOAT.

Heck, even Tiger likes him now.

 

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