BETHESDA, MD. –- The announced attendance for today’s third round of the AT&T National was 22,311. That’s a good 15,000 fewer than attended the third round of last year’s inaugural AT&T.
Last year, of course, you had Tiger playing, Philly Mick and Vijay as honored guests, and all the hoopla that goes with a spanking new tournament in the nation’s capital. This time, Mickelson and Vijay sent their regrets, the European stars all went home, and Tiger can’t play because his left leg is in a cast.
Here’s my question: Would some of those 15,000 stay-aways have showed up if Tiger were here in his capacity as tournament host? Could he have created a stir by allowing himself to be rolled in on a gurney? Could he have goosed CBS’s ratings by trading on-air gibes with Nick Faldo and David Feherty?
Granted, Tiger’s doctors have told him to rest his knee, and he says air travel causes his stitched-up limb to swell. But it certainly would have been a crowd-pleaser if Tiger and his family had sailed up the Potomac on his 155-foot yacht, Privacy, as part of yesterday’s Fourth of July celebration.
If I were AT&T, I’d simply point out to Tiger’s handlers that the late Byron Nelson holds the player record for years hosting a PGA Tour event (39). Then I’d mention that Tiger, due to this year’s AT&T no-show, trails Byron by 38.
Tiger’s a competitive guy. He’ll want to narrow the gap.