Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PGA season short on sizzle so far

Two years ago at Doral, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson staged a mesmerizing battle that Johnny Miller recently said is remembered “like a major championship.”

That may be a slight exaggeration but Miller’s point is correct – it was a tournament that made us pay attention. I was covering a North Carolina basketball game in Chapel Hill that Sunday afternoon and during time outs, several writers (myself included, often leading the pack) would slip out of our seats and duck into a room with a television to check in on the golf.

Yes, there was a television in the Smith Center tuned to the golf during a Tar Heel game.

We could use a golf tournament like that right now.

The Masters is two weeks away and it never fails to deliver, even when it doesn’t go down to the last hole.

But this PGA Tour season, which has played from Hawaii, through the West Coast swing and now through Florida, has been short on sizzle.

The best tournament finish may have been at the Honda Classic when Boo Weekly, Jose Coceres, Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson played off. Unfortunately, it went too late and had to finish on Monday but it had plenty of drama and, almost unexpectedly, some good characters.

Too many times this season tournaments have been defined by mistakes. Guys keep missing putts when they matter.

That’s not to say good things haven’t happened. Charles Howell III has returned. Paul Goydos winning was a great story. Henrik Stenson announced himself on the world stage. Phil’s fine. Vijay’s fine. Tiger’s fine despite that 43 on Sunday.

This week is a World Golf Championship event, which means the best players are all there. That’s a good start but, to be honest, the whole WGC thing has been a little less than we imagined. You can’t manufacture gravitas. Pro golf is still about the majors (and The Players Championship).

But the WGC idea remains a good one – getting the best together. That’s what we have this week.

It’s time for a week that makes us say wow.

And Paul Casey is my pick as the guy to do it.