Is American Golf Paying the Price for Idolizing Only Tiger Woods?

Espen Uldal@espenuldalContributor IIIJune 18, 2011

What happens when he's gone?
What happens when he's gone?Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Is American golf paying the price for idolizing Tiger Woods and forgetting all other US golfers?

It looks like it. On the other hand, die-hard fans of Tiger will tell you they are right: Tiger is the only one. No US player has taken his place the last 18 months.

The question is, then: Why are the Europeans so damn good, and the Americans so far behind right now?

Probably because the European players have not been brainwashed with the mantra that they don't matter on a golf course, only the guy in Sunday red does.

I know, Tiger has won 14 majors, die-hard fans will say. No one is entitled to doubt the greatness of Tiger. The answer is, this is not about doubting Tigers greatness. It's about facts. And the fact is that Jack Nicklaus has the record and is leading the parameter of which even Woods measures himself: the number of major titles won.

So let's pull Tiger down from the pedestal for a while and be logic in the deeper sense of the word.

European golf is bursting with personalities these days who believes in themselves and producing the goods. The Americans are not. European golfers are not told every week by the media and fans that they are just extras in a marketing show featuring Tee Dubya. American golfers are. European golf viewers are not lost if Tiger does not play. Americans are. European golf economy and the status of the European Tour is on the up rise. The US golf economy and the PGA Tour is not.


If Tiger were still playing and still winning, chances are that the state of US golf would look better, but the Americans has put all their money on one horse and now that horse is lame. Phil Mickelson has missed a golden opportunity to conquer the golf scene, and a funny thing is, Mickelson is much better when Woods is around.

But apart from Lefty, who does the US have as an alternative to Tiger? Let's rephrase the question and see what the alternatives to Tiger are right now: Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer—the top three in the world. Even the hottest player in the US Open right now—and record breaker with a 36-hole score of 11-under-par—is a European in the shape of 22-year-old Rory McIlroy.

None of these guys have been bottled up on US media hysteria about Tiger. They have prospered—like all others—from Tiger's effect on the golf economy, but they have never lost their ability to know their own worth. They have not won 14 majors and they won't, but they have their dignity in order and their priorities are within the ramifications of that of a gentleman. After all, golf is still a gentleman's sport.

The worst statement thinkable made by the US press has not only become true, but also become the worst possible truth for American golf: There is Tiger in the US, and nothing else.

Even the alternatives to European players in top golf right now, are international players from overseas. South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have won two of the last four majors and Europeans Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer have the other two. The last US winner was Mickelson at the Masters 2010.

This is not the saddest thing. The worst thing about the perception of golf in the US is still that no one really cares if Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson or Bubba Watson should take one of the Big Four, because in the end it's not really about golf. And the US media made sure about that a long time ago.