by Tom Weppel
THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
This week the PGA Tour will hold the TPC in Ponte Vedra, directly behind the home of the PGA Tour world headquarters. This event is their annual showcase event, for all intents.
And while it is almost guaranteed that all the top golfers in the world will be here competing against each other, as they do every year at this event, there is only ONE guy that all the fans want to see.
All of you know him, of course, as Tiger. The guy simply is so freaking popular, he has security around him almost 24 hours a day, very similar to the President of the U.S. He carries tremendous star power…almost beyond what Nicklaus, Palmer, and a select few others have had. It’s become almost ridiculous in the way things have evolved.
Seriously…if Tiger Woods wasn’t playing in TPC this week, the interest and excitement surrounding it would be about half of what it is…maybe even less. People wouldn’t be talking about the tournament. People wouldn’t be thinking about a particular golfer hey would want to come out and see. People wouldn’t be looking over the pairings, trying to see who is going to be teeing off at what time on what day. Its amazing, really, when you think about it. In so many ways, Tiger Woods’ success has been absolutely phenomenal for golf in general ad the PGA Tour in particular. His presence has certainly generated tons of interest and publicity.
On the other side, though, it has also created a huge dilemma for the PGA Tour to deal with, and t is this: what will they do from now on when Tiger DOESN’T play in an event!?
It truly has gotten bad. The other golfers that play on the Tour have virtually no personality, when you compare them to Woods. Even Phil Mickelson, as good a player as he is, is not close to being the draw that Tiger has become. There are a few names here and there that people can remember and have a general interest in. But without question, the PGA Tour has become, ‘Tiger and the other guys’.
I state all this, while also mentioning that, while Woods certainly is a great player, he is also human, and he has been beaten plenty of times. Last week was a perfect example. Tiger started off by firing an opening round of 65 to lead the tournament. But he couldn’t keep the lead thru the weekend, and he ended up losing by two strokes to Sean O’Hair. Did ANYONE, aside from relatives and friends, care that Sean O’Hair won that tournament in Charlotte last weekend? Hello, no!
I seriously don’t know how the Tour is going to change the way this is. Unless someone comes along that can win a few Majors and beat Tiger a couple times, while also showing us an interesting personality that we can latch on to, the Tour will essentially be such that it is great when Woods plays, but boring when he doesn’t. That’s exactly like it is right now.
Anyway, I guess I’ve stated my point. We’ll see how Eldrick fares this weekend on at Sawgrass, on a course he hasn’t necessarily performed well on. My guess, though, is that thousands of people will be interested in watching him, following him, and oogling him!
I also guarantee you that some halfway drunk lunatic will yell, ‘Get in the hole!’ after every shot Tiger hits. If I was there and I had a Taser stun gun, I’d put them all down. Enjoy TPC. We’ll see who does what.
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
We’re into the second round of the NBA playoffs. I can tell you right now that the only two guys everyone wants to see in the Finals are Kobe and Lebron. Almost all NBA fans are looking for a Lakers/Cavs match up in he Finals, and if it ends up any other way, a lot of people will be very disappointed.
And so I thought there were a few surprised people out there when the Houston Rockets came out and beat the Lakers in Los Angeles in Game One of their series. I’m thinking most people we’re thinking it would be a sweep, with no problem, and L.A. would move on. But the Rockets were able to show they have some talent and ability, and they might be able to still win a few games. Yao Ming, Ron Artest, and the others are indeed a decent squad, and it should prove to be an interesting series.
Meanwhile, the Cavs have come together and shown us their firepower. Lebron, winner of the NBA MVP, finally has some good players to complement his status. It’ll be fun to see how they do against the Atlanta Hawks.
I think the Magic are going to give the Celtics a tough run, and I think Orlando actually has a pretty good shot at beating Boston. And while the Mavericks are flaunt with veterans on their roster, I believe the Denver Nuggets have become a pretty good team…good enough to win that series.
by Tom Weppel