Tiger's dominance of the PGA Tour and much of the sports and advertising world over the last decade or so has had all kinds of economic repercussions, including those related to TV viewership. Like Arnold Palmer before him, Tiger in his prime attracted unprecedented ratings, largely due to his ability to draw casual and even non-golf fans to the tube, and advertising revenues, among other things, boomed as a result. But according to a story in the New York Post, the latest numbers on Tiger are less than inspiring: viewership of the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday was down 51% over last year when Tiger won the event, and down 34% from the previous year, when Tiger didn't even play.
How do we interpret these numbers? People love to see Tiger play, and win.
The bottom line: Tiger's immense popularity doesn't just affect sports fans. A lot of people whose livelihoods revolve around the game of golf will feel the effects if Tiger doesn't get his game back together. Mickelson says #1 World Ranking will happen Ever since Tiger's ill-fated date with an Orlando fire hydrant, there's been an interesting secondary story that golf fans have been watching closely: Phil Mickelson's attempt to surpass El Tigre as the world's No. 1-ranked golfer. During his professional career, Tiger has held the top spot for 612 weeks, including the last 270 in a row. To give you an idea of how dominating he's been, the only other golfer in the history of the World Rankings to hold the top spot for over 100 weeks is Greg Norman, who had it for 331. And nobody other than Tiger has held the number one ranking since Vijay Singh gave it back to Tiger in June of '05.
Though this story has been of major interest to golf fans and pundits alike, Phil has only recently come clean about his desire to unseat his rival. But after Tiger's debacle in Akron it seems Lefty not only wants the top spot, he expects it. According to a report from The Press Association, Mickelson has said, "it will eventually happen, I believe," when asked about becoming the world's number one ranked player. This is clearly a long way from the aw shucks attitude he often displayed in the past, and yet another indication that Tiger's dominance, and intimidation factor, are a mere shadow of what they once were.
The bottom line: People have doubted Tiger before and paid for it. This time the doubters could be right. Whistling Straits – great or not? There's little doubt that those who watch the PGA Championship this week will enjoy some amazing views of Lake Michigan and Pete Dye's diabolical Whistling Straits layout. But is the course, ranked No. 3 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play, really worthy of a major championship? When asked about the "greatness" of the course by Peter Kessler this morning, Geoff Shackleford said:
I love watching it and admire many elements of the design, I wouldn't want to play it nor do I think most golfers can get around, which DQ's it from the greatness category for me. (By comparison, Pebble Beach and the Old Course can be played by just about anyone.)
In his column, John Huggan got even more medieval on the Wisconsin track:
On the plus side, it is a visually spectacular venue, one that will afford the television cameras many opportunities to showcase the surrounding landscape; on the down side it represents much that is depressing and foolish about modern golf architecture and the game itself.
Not only is Whistling Straits, like so many of America's high-profile courses, stupidly expensive to play, it must cost a fortune to maintain and, whisper it, lost balls are not uncommon, even for accomplished players. Last time, by way of example, former Edinburgh nightclub bouncer Vijay Singh won a three-hole play-off with Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco. How exciting was it? Suffice to say that the lanky Fijian shot 76 and made but one birdie during his 21-hole final day.
So, what do you think? We want to know. Please post your opinion on Whistling Straits and it's legitimacy as a major championship venue in the comments section below.