Local Event Finds
Golf in the Gutter
SAN DIEGO—As the
game's alpha dogs prowl Torrey Pines at next week's U.S. (golf) Open, one
question hounds them: Can't anybody lead this pack? A different player has won
each of golf's last eight majors. Nobody has repeated as Player of the Year
since 1995. No golfer can match the star power of Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady or
bowling sensation Rhino Page. In short, golf needs a hero.
Phil, Are You
Hometown favorite Phil Mickelson leads active players with six majors, a far
cry from Jack Nicklaus's record 18. Ernie Els's five majors include last year's
PGA Championship, at which the Big Easy outlasted Woody Austin ... or was it
Woody Allen? Vijay Singh and nerveless Sergio Garc�a have three apiece, while
the list of multiple major winners also features Chris DiMarco, David Duval,
Sean Micheel, etc.—a group Colin Montgomerie and Bob May could join this
"It's a parity party," says Fuzzy Zoeller, golf's most beloved voice
since he replaced Ken Venturi in the CBS booth in 2002. According to Zoeller,
technology and technique have narrowed the gap between the best and the rest.
"Everybody's long, and they swing near perfect. Each week anybody can win.
That's why nobody'll ever get near Jack's record. Not Phil and Ernie, and
certainly not Sergio or Monty, much as I love El Bea�o and ol' Haggis
Breath." Funnyman David Feherty says Nicklaus's 18 majors are "up there
with sports' most hallowed and unattainable records—DiMaggio's 56-game hitting
streak and the 56 streaks in my pants at the '91 Ryder Cup."
Purists may appreciate parity, but casual fans want stars. Perhaps that's why
Montgomerie's First Tea program fizzled, and Mickelson found few takers for his
charity dare, Bet You Can't Beat Me, Kid. Even with the Tour shortening courses
to add excitement, TV ratings keep sinking. Nike, which spent millions on its
Hello World, I'm Charles Howell ads, now focuses on NASCAR. Golf lost another
advertiser when General Motors' Buick Division went under. Gatorade's
ballyhooed Drink Your Phil brand went dry when bloggers spread rumors that two
flavors, Flop Sweat and Bag o' Bones, contained subcutaneous fat.
"Aw, golf's fine," says Zoeller, who will call the Open on HDNet under
the game's new $950,000 TV deal. "Sure, it's a minority taste, but I love
minorities!" As for rumors that the PGA Tour will soon be acquired by
Google billionaires Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eldrick...