Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Bubba Delivers In A Big Way

   At the risk of invoking television ratings numbers, the word from CBS Sports is that Sunday ratings of the final round of the Farmers Insurance Classic/Open/Championship were up more than 50 percent from a year ago.

   What makes that relevant is that Tiger Woods was in the field but not in the storyline in San Diego, unless you count his continuing inability to reemerge on the good side of his latest swing tinkering. It was, instead, a tournament about Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Jhonny Vegas and all those shots of the southern California coastline.

   In other words, someone other than Tiger drew eyes to televisions. Maybe that's an overly simplistic reading on what happened but that's the way it looks.

   That's a good thing. It's a reminder that golf can exist without Tiger, though it's much better when he's explaining all the birdies he made instead of the patience required in making a swing change. We're getting as tired of hearing it as he must be in waiting for it to click in so we can assess the Sean Foley era as compared to the Hank Haney and Butch Harmon eras.

   In the meantime, we got to see Bubba Watson play cartoon golf. That's not a criticism but a nod to the unconventional nature of his sometimes mind-blowing game. He hits it ridiculously long and with a swing that has him leaning and tilting and hitting 300-yard cut shots off the tee. He's fun to watch in the way John Daly used to be fun to watch.

    Watson doesn't fit the tour mold. He's emotional, he's bold and he's as different as the pink shaft in his driver. He makes you pay attention.

   That's what Phil Mickelson does. Guys like that bring a spark with them. They make spectacular things happen, or at least make you think the spectacular might happen.

   The back nine on Sunday was a reminder of how compelling a good golf tournament can be. It had big personalities, big shots and a big audience.

    And it didn't have Tiger at the end.


Anonymous said...

In the 70's, I rememeber an article in Golf Digest or Golf Magazine which was titled something like this, "After Nicklaus, the tour may die."