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.