With The Masters less than two weeks away and Tiger at home sipping Rum Toddies, it’s time to make an early season assessment of the PGA Tour. So far, in 2014, only two of the top ten players in the world (Zach Johnson and Jason Day) have managed to win on the tour. Instead the winners have run the gamut from journeymen (Jimmy Walker, John Senden, Kevin Stadler) to young-guns (Patrick Reed, Chesson Hadley) to complete, off-the-wall, who-dat-guy winners (Steven Bowditch, anyone). The only constant is that the usual suspects are strangely MIA.
Now, many people think The Masters (being the first major and all) will change this trend and see the cream rise to the top. But with established stars (Phil and Tiger) either hurting or already out and others either mired in a season long funk (Stenson, Rose) or others seemingly incapable of closing the deal on Sundays (McIlroy, Scott), it’s anyone’s guess if order in the golfing world will be restored.
There is no denying the fact that the Tour is definitely in a transition phase. Many of the big draws are aging rapidly and guys like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia who quite recently were brimming with all the potential in the world, so far, have not been able to sustain their careers at a pace that would establish them as year-in, year-out stars capable of drawing in the casual golf fan.
Should the PGA Tour be worried? I would certainly be concerned if no one was able to carry the torch that has been handed down from the early greats (Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan) to the regal-triumvirate (Palmer, Player, Nicklaus) of the 60’s and 70’s to the Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros era right up to modern era of Phil and Tiger.
Golf, like most sports, is star driven. It’s just the way sports works for most fans. And, now, sadly, the next great one(s) have yet to establish themselves as ‘the guy’. Then again, with so much parity in golf and so many great golfers from around the world capable of winning on any given week, the era of the dominant pro may be a thing of the past. Only time will tell…