PGA Tour Golf Drives Forward As Tiger Woods Fades from Spotlight

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PGA Tour Golf Drives Forward As Tiger Woods Fades from Spotlight

Just days after Louis Oosthiuzen routed the entire British Open field, headlines continued to focus on Tiger Woods' inability to make a putt, the substantial decrease in TV ratings, and the boredom that defined this year's Open Championship.

Is this an alternate reality?

I thought sports were about honoring athletes who display their exceptional abilities under the most intense and difficult of conditions.

Whether skiing down a mountain at 80mph or hitting a 95mph fastball, the pure grit and pursuit of becoming a champion is all the same.

But when looking at this major championship, it seemed like the overwhelming majority couldn't help but pick apart everything that was not happening—such as Tiger Woods, or some other well-known golfer, gaining momentum—instead of paying homage to the spectacular show this surprise South African was putting on for us.

This is not about putting down Tiger Woods.

While the world's No.1 ranked player continues to struggle through personal issues, as well as those visible on the golf course, let him recuperate how he will.

What I can't seem to figure out is whether we are hopeful for Tiger's recovery or addicted to his agony?

At last week's Open Championship, while Tiger Woods was three-putting, missing greens, and shouting profanity like a child who just dropped his ice cream, players across the spectrum were persevering in the face of the adverse obstacles at St. Andrews.

But the fact that Woods has previously displayed his potential to hit a 350-yard drive or stick it to within inches of a tightly placed pin or even go on a streak of birdies generates an absorbing level of suspense that doesn't exist for any other golfer.

It's that intrigue and mystery that makes the camera addicted to Woods.

But simultaneously, when Tiger is not in the running to win, like at the British Open, a media frenzy begins and a plethora of articles are written about how TV ratings plummeted to a record low.

Maybe if the cameras and media personalities had focused on the successes of the Open Championship, then the discussions about the lack of excitement and ratings could be moot.

Youth Flourished at the Old Course

Have people forgotten that Rickie Fowler , who is just 21 years old and in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, finished in a tie for 14th in his first British Open? Fowler opened the Championship with a devastating seven-over-par 79 but fought the nasty conditions in his second round to produce a five-under-par 67.

His 2-over standing just made the cut for the weekend and Rickie took advantage of his opportunity to play the most prestigious golf course in the world.

Fowler shot a one-under-par 71 Saturday and then blistered through the Old Course Sunday with another incredible round of 67, placing him in a tie for 14th at -4 for the Open Championship.

Rory McIlroy , another 21-year-old phenom, nearly won his first major championship at St. Andrews. After tying the record for lowest score in a major championship (63) in his opening round, the Northern-Irishman collapsed in his second round, shooting an 80 in the grueling Scottish conditions.

But his weekend scores are what McIlroy should truly be recognized for. A 69 on Saturday and 68 on Sunday landed him in a tie for third place at -8 for the Open Championship.

Other notables: Jin Jeong (20), Jeff Overton (27) and Dustin Johnson (25) finished at -4 in a tie for 14th. Ryo Ishikawa (18) and Kevin Na (26) finished at -2 in a tie for 27th.

Americans Rose to the Occasion

After the second round of the British Open, it seemed like there was a panic across the media because there were hardly any American names atop the leaderboard.

Well, that was shortlived.

Sean O'Hair finished in a tie for seventh place at -6 and never shot a round above par.  Nick Watney also finished at -6 for the Open Championship and performed consistently throughout the brutal conditions.

Jeff Overton, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Tom Lehman, and JB Holmes all finished at -4 in a tie for 14th place.

The Americans made a substantial comeback over the weekend and more importantly, they made a statement that this year's Ryder Cup will not be given away to the Europeans at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Disappointment is Part of the Game

To watch major champions like Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy, and the red-hot Justin Rose miss the cut the at British Open was astonishing, but it was also a necessary reminder of the unpredictability inherent in the game of golf.

It seemed like Els and Rose were the two players that generated the most shock, not just because they are both elite players on Tour, but because both had legitimate chances of winning at St. Andrews.

Sports may be drawn to stars, but when one man or an elite few become emblematic of the entire sport but inevitably fade from the spotlight, the future of that sport is in extreme duress.

If, however, we take a look at those who have earned their right to be in the spotlight, we might see that the sport could be in good hands.

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