The PGA Championship is the final major of the year, and by a landslide, it’s the worst of the four majors.
The British Open is the best, most historic. The Masters produces the most thrilling results, and as the first major of the year in April, has the most pent-up excitement around it. The U.S. Open is played on great, tough courses. And it’s our national championship.
The PGA? It’s got nothing. It’s fourth on the calendar, and fourth in our hearts.
It might not be so bad if the telecast of the PGA was better.
Unfortunately, it’s the worst of all the majors.
The British has wall-to-wall coverage. ESPN starts at 4 AM, and doesn’t stop until the last shot is hit. The Masters isn’t wall-to-wall because The Masters doesn’t want it that way, but at least it limits commercials.
TNT won’t start airing the PGA until 1 PM. Tiger Woods goes out at 8:30 AM. That means the only guy people really care about won’t be on TV for the first day of the PGA.
In some ways, that’s for the best. The actual broadcast of the PGA is stuffed with commercials. As golf blogger Geoff Shackleford puts it, we get a “painful preview of the entire CBS fall lineup interrupted by major championship golf.”
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t considered a major. It would just be another tournament, and the commercials wouldn’t seem so bad. But it is a major, and so this stuff stands out.
Anyway. Enough of the whining! Let’s talk about the only thing people really care about: Tiger Woods.
Woods has had an excellent year. He’s won five times, most recently last week at Bridgestone.
However, an excellent year is not a great year unless Woods wins a major. His goal in life is to win 20 majors. He’s been stuck on 14 majors for the last five years.
He’s been close to winning. He’s been near the lead on Friday night in the majority of majors in the last two years. But he’s faltered during the weekend, and failed to win.
Part of the reason is that golf is really hard. Woods is playing against the best golfers in the world on the hardest golf courses in the world. He wins events with such regularity that people think it’s easy for him to win. It’s not. He’s a human.
Which brings us to the other reason he’s failed to win a major in the last two years — he’s human. He used to be this crazy creature that was blessed with talent and (seeming) luck. He could win when it didn’t seem like he should be able to win.
His last major victory is the perfect example. He won the U.S. Open in 2008 on a broken leg in a playoff. To get into the playoff, he had to hit a bumpy 15-foot putt that slid to his left.
Rocco Mediate, who had the lead at the time, was watching Woods from the clubhouse later said he knew Woods would make the putt. That’s just the kind of person Woods was at the time.
Today, Woods doesn’t seem to have that magic. If he is on the 18th green at Oak Hill (host of this year’s PGA) on Sunday with a 15-footer, people won’t consider it automatic. They’ll wonder if he still has it.
If Woods doesn’t win this weekend, he too will have to wonder, at least a little bit, what’s wrong.
If he doesn’t win the PGA, then he’s going to have to wait until April to take a crack at getting his 15th major. That’s eight long, depressing months thinking about why he whiffed this year in the majors despite his excellent play.
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