Webb Simpson Wins US Open; Golf Loses Major Headline
No one can deny that Webb Simpson deserved to be crowned the 112th U.S. Open champion at Olympic Club.
His back-to-back rounds of 68 put him in some rarefied air and allowed him to be the last man standing on a grueling Sunday final round.
Heck, he even made the entire world laugh by his handling of a heckler making random bird sounds. His "enjoy the jail cell, pal" may have increased his popularity as much as the dramatic victory.
Still, golf's blessing is also its curse. Golf simply has too many great players right now.
Fifteen straight majors with 15 different winners.
Now, on one hand, this is wonderful. Golf may have the deepest fields of all time right now. Considering the young talent of Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and of course Webb Simpson are now mixed in with older players who are still competing thanks to technology and better fitness regimens like Ernie Els and Jim Furyk.
It makes for drama when we were used Tiger Woods lapping the field like he did in the 2000 U.S. Open.
On the other hand, this much unpredictability hurts golf in the pantheon of mainstream sports.
Let's face it, if you are reading this article. You are probably a hardcore golf fanatic. My own dad (since this is Father's Day) can watch the PGA, European Tour, Champions Tour, LPGA and the Nationwide without any remorse.
He would watch the Open if it were between the two most obscure players on the planet.
Yet when most people have to choose between game three of the NBA Finals and the guaranteed superstars of Kevin Durant and LeBron James, golf does not stand much of a chance.
Maybe that is OK. After all, no one expected golf to compete with the Big Four sports until Woods came along and revolutionized golf in this era.
Still, just like NASCAR and other sports trying to make their claim for the national spotlight, golf needs a bona fide star. Someone that can move the needle.
Sure Woods will always have that effect, maybe when he's even 50 years old.
However, that is simply too much pressure for one man to hold on his broad shoulders. He may have been able to do it for 11 years, but those days may be over.
Golf does not need a new Tiger Woods because there simply may never be one. However, they do need a story for people to sink their teeth into.
Sure, Wake Forest grad and Arnold Palmer scholarship player Simpson winning the U.S. Open at Olympic Club that Arnie could not win is a nice story.
A 17-year-old playing well is a cute story and Jim Furyk's collapse on 16 is a tragic story.
The major story people expected to read—Woods captures 15th major en route to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18—remains to be written.
That is a story that would capture national headlines and whether you like the man or not, those big stories help the tour. It brings in new people and makes them lovers of the game for life.
Simpson, Bubba Watson, Lucas Glover, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel all deserved their majors with terrific play and memorable shots.
Yet one major does not make a star, and majors are what the mainstream world of sports pay attention to.
Until someone demands to be recognized and break from this pack, golf's great play will be relegated to the back sections. That is a story no one wants to hear.
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