August 16, 2011

Is Parity A Good Thing For Golf?

     100 of the top 102 golfers in the world played in the 2011 PGA Championship.  None of them won.  There have been 13 different winners in the last 13 majors.  The last 7 major winners had never won a major before.  After years of domination by Tiger Woods (and to a lesser degree Phil Mickelson), parity has finally hit the PGA Tour.  But fans are divided on whether or not the unpredictability of golf tournaments makes them more exciting.
     Some people like the fact that unknown players have been beating the odds and winning recently.  However, I feel like you can't really have an upset or a Cinderella story without them beating a much stronger opponent.  Y.E. Yang needed Tiger Woods, the way the 2007 New York Giants needed the 18-0 Patriots, or the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays needed the Yankees and Red Sox.  If Rocco Mediate plays an extra 19 holes against Jason Dufner for the U.S. Open, nobody cares.  If Rocco Mediate plays an extra 19 holes against an injured Tiger Woods for the U.S. Open, it's a huge deal.
     Somebody needs to step up and become that fearsome opponent on the Tour.  Maybe it's Rory McIlroy, who was at or near the top in 4 straight majors before fizzling out in the last two.  Maybe it's Dustin Johnson, who has been thisclose to winning a couple of majors and has a ton of natural ability.  It could be #1-ranked Luke Donald.  It might even be Tiger Woods again.  But without one or two players that excel above the rest, any upset or comeback is going to fall short on the excitement scale.
     Don't get me wrong:  I'll always take Keegan Bradley erasing a 5-shot deficit in the last three holes over McIlroy winning the U.S. Open by 8.  Thrilling golf always comes first.  But it needs that extra boost to put it over the top, and right now that's just not happening.

(My apologies to Keegan Bradley, for not mentioning your name until I was 283 words in.  Congrats on the win!)

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