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McCollum's Column: It's a new jungle on PGA Tour

Posted: August 12, 2014 - 4:40pm
JOHN LOCHER AP PHOTO  Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday, in Louisville, Ky.   AP
AP
JOHN LOCHER AP PHOTO Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday, in Louisville, Ky.

A friend was watching the PGA tournament on television and noted a couple of Tiger Woods’ swings.

Not so good swings, the kind you don’t look at the ball and walk to the caddie shaking your head.

“I knew what he was doing wrong,” said my friend. “And when I can spot on television what Tiger Woods is doing wrong, he’s got some problems.”

That glorious and dominating Tiger Woods era in golf is over.

Tiger is a good golfer, great at times when he is healthy.

But he’s one of many. He’s no longer an automatic favorite or automatic top 10 when he shows up at a tournament.

He’s past his prime. He has recurring back problems. He has trouble finding his rhythm. His game is erratic.

The pool of strong competitors — from all over the world — has increased.

There are 91 golfers on the PGA Tour who have already won over a $1 million this year.

The young golfers can outdrive, outputt and outgun Tiger. The veteran golfers are more steady.

The big thing is that when Tiger walks onto the course, he scares hardly anyone. He’s lost the intimidation factor.

Golf is going through a cultural shift and it has taken a toll.

TV ratings are way down.

Interest is down.

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently fired 500 of its staff of PGA professionals and is downsizing its golfing operation because of dwindling interest.

TV keeps trying to stay latched to Tiger, filming him getting out of his vehicle and laboriously hitting balls on the practice range in an attempt to hype its PGA coverage.

Reality check. It is not the same Tiger, either in skills or luster. He may win again, possibly even a major, but his next round of stardom may be on the Senior Tour.

Can Rory or Rickie or the other phenoms who have surfaced take up the slack and provide a “wow” factor.

Not individually, maybe collectively.

At one point during the final round of the PGA, 14 golfers were within three strokes of each other and there was a five-way tie for the lead.

The final holes and foursomes were like the stretch run of the Kentucky Derby.

Rory McElroy added to the glamor when he won the tournament, then caught part of the trophy as it was falling to the round.

Without Tiger a dominant figure, golf is not dead. It’s just different.

One question is can the general public and the media embrace the shift.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

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