This past Monday, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open, his 14th career major, in an epic 19-hole duel with Rocco Mediate.
We knew Tiger was playing on a recently surgically repaired knee that was still giving him some issues. On Wednesday this week, we found out that he had a torn ACL and a stress fracture in the tibia bone of his leg. Woods will miss the rest of this season for sure, and the beginning of next season. It remains remarkable that he was able to win a golf tournament, and a major at that, essentially playing on one leg for 91 holes.
The question now is what will happen for the PGA Tour for the rest of the 2008 season. Woods is a huge draw for the sport (stating the obvious, I know), with TV ratings and overall interest in the tour at its highest when he is participating. That could be a huge problem for the tour's bottom line, but it also presents an opportunity.
The opportunity I speak of lies with the professionals on tour, and particularly the big stars. This is the time to shine in the Tiger-less spotlight for Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and others. It is a time for Sergio Garcia to step into big time stardom and possibly win his first major, or at least contend to win his first major after winning this year's Players Championship. Former major winners like Mike Weir, Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk have a chance to win another major in now what is a more level and wide-open playing field week in and week out. For the rest of this season, it is no longer a case of Tiger....and then everyone else.
The PGA Tour itself also has a opportunity to showcase some of the lesser known talent on tour. This will be good for the individuals, as well as the tour as a whole.