Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Parity" is often used with disdain by commentators and pundits who surround team sports. It's regarded as the worst of the worst when it comes to creating interest from fans, while so called dynasties, like the Bulls with Michael Jordan, the Yankees with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the 49ers with Joe Montana, appear to be the highest peak on the mountain. It's no surprise then, that the Tiger era was considered by many to be the greatest period in the history of golf, and the viewership and participation numbers seem to back them up. 
But have we now reached an era of parity in golf's major championships? Don't Tiger, Phil, and Rory dominate? No, actually they don't. As Carl Steward of The Oakland Tribune points out, in the last 14 majors there have been 14 different winners, and Tiger isn't one of them. That's only one major short of the longest streak of non-repeat winners in the history of the game since the Masters was started in 1934 (when Lee Janzen won his second U.S. Open at Olympic in '98 it had been 15 majors without a repeat winner).  
If you're looking for further evidence of parity, consider this: seven of the last 14 winners were first timers, and most of them weren't even the top players in the world. In fact, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, and Adam Scott have combined to win exactly zero majors. And all of them reside in the top 25 in the world. 
So what's the deal? How come nobody has stepped up in Tiger's absence to grab a bunch of majors? According to U.S. Open and British Open champion Johnny Miller, a lot of the top players, like Lee Westwood, just aren't up to the task. 

"Some guys just can’t handle major championship pressure, Westwood can handle it well enough to have a chance to be in contention but not enough to hit that heroic shot on the last hole and do whatever he needs to do. He’s had many chances. And so that opens the door for a lot of other people that were maybe surprised that they won."
"What you don’t see is that fire to sort of determine who he is and his self-worth by championships," he said. "You know, I was never that way. To me, it was like, yeah, I’d like to win an Open. But I was also enjoying my family and life, where some of these guys, self-worth was about how many championships they won." "Even with Jack Nicklaus, going out fishing with him, he told me, ’You know, I could have won more majors if I really focused a little more,’ " Miller continued. "I was like, ’Dang, Jack, you won 18, how many do you want?’ I didn’t ever think that way. And I think Rory is a lot like I am. He’s just happy being as good as he is."
"There’s always room for a dominant player, it’s that just dominant players don’t fall off trees."
Olympic Club makes adjustments for U.S. Open According to The Monterey County Herald






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