The Tiger Woods reality check, sometimes bordering on backlash, continues. Dan Bickley writes in the Arizona Republic exactly what I wrote for Golf.com two weeks ago when I explained why Tiger didn't owe me an apology. The tour is hooked on Tiger. Bickley is delightfully blunt and tells it like it is:
The PGA Tour is addicted to an addict. Like Tiger Woods, it could use some time in rehab.
"Everybody tells me how much (Tiger) swears on the course," veteran
tour player Michael Allen said. "Man, if you watched me every single
shot I hit all year, it wouldn't be any prettier. But everything I do
isn't on television."
This is a dangerous condition. Woods is the most-compelling player
on tour, so much that when he's gone from the picture, television
ratings plunge into the abyss. The tabloid drama in his personal life
guarantees this will be the case for many months to come.
But somewhere down the line, the tour must cure this problem. Golf can't be prisoner to one player any more than a country can be dependent on foreign oil. And the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open is
the perfect place to start.
Bickley also reports an item that Tiger's plane was seen in the Phoenix area, noting that he's not here to play golf.
"Maybe he'll be spotted Saturday as one of the 150,000 people out here, I don't know," PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, making a rare joke.
The Phoenix Open — whose Tiger moments include a famous hole-in-one and raucous celebration, a gun-toting fan and a rolled-over boulder — has nonetheless been successful and kept growing even without his presence. With Waste Management now running things, the tournament has become a model of how to succeed in golf without counting on Tiger Woods.
"I think the tour has gone the wrong way in marketing itself," Michael Allen said. "They don't show the rest of the players or tell their stories nearly enough. There are a lot of really good people out here, and there are a lot of really great players out here. And all we get caught up in is Tiger. Our image, everything is about Tiger. I think it's a great lesson for the tour to learn, and I hope they wake up."
The new, Buddhist Woods says he's changing for the better. I believe him. Now it's time for the tour to follow suit.