The Joy of Golf: Golf will survive even without the eyes on Tiger

Joy Chakravarty 11:34 24/04/2014
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Star attraction: World No1 Tiger Woods remains the game's biggest draw.

In a report published last week, it was estimated that a long-term injury, or retirement, by Tiger Woods would cost the $68 billion (Dh249.7bn) a year golf industry a whopping $15bn (Dh55bn).

At first glance, and without unpacking the details too much, the figure seems exaggerated.

It was based mostly on the fact that this year’s Masters drew a US TV Rating of 7.8 – the lowest since Phil Mickelson’s win in 2004 – and it assumes that the rating will be even lower for future tournaments because of Woods’ absence.

I am not so sure of the numbers, and I obviously do not possess a crystal ball.

However, I have two major issues with the report – one, it does great disservice to the legacy already created by Woods, and two, it is disrespectful towards some of the current and future stars of the game.

However, based on what transpired across the globe in four tournaments and spanning four major tours last week – which saw four very popular victories – I think golf is doing pretty well in the absence of its greatest star.

On the European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned Malaysian Open, Lee Westwood won by seven shots.

He was the highest ranked player in the tournament, and even though he had not won a title in the last two years, there was a lot of expectation from the two-time European No1.

The Englishman did not disappoint.

His victory must have eased some pressure on European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who would be a bit worried with the form of some of his more experienced players.

More importantly, it will reassure Westwood that all the tough decisions he has taken lately – the move to Florida, change of coach etc – is paying off.

On the PGA Tour, Matt Kuchar was the sentimental favourite going into the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.

In contention on Sundays in the last three tournaments, including at the Masters, the ever-smiling American was having trouble in closing it out.

But he did that in style, holing out a spectacular bunker shot for a birdie on the last.

The shouts of ‘Koooooooch’ that followed were deafening to say the least.

Kuchar may not be as big a personality as some of the other players, but his pleasant nature, and the consistency of his golf, has helped him win the hearts of fans across the globe.

On the Champions Tour, Miguel Angel Jimenez was making his debut at the Greater Gwinnett Championship.

And the Spaniard, considered the coolest player in the game, gave a full display of his laid-back charm and won ahead of Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples.

And finally, on the LPGA Tour, Michelle Wie won the Lotte Championship.

It was the first win in four years for ‘Big Wiesy’, but more importantly, it came in her home state of Hawaii.

Ever since she qualified for an LPGA Tour event aged 12, the 24-year-old was looked upon as the next big thing in women’s golf.

It may have taken some time, but perhaps she can still live up to that billing from here on.

Tweet of the Week 
“Well done to The Mechanic winning his first tournament on the seniors tour. He can stay there too if he likes! Give us young lads a chance!” – Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) congratulates Miguel Angel Jimenez on his Champions Tour victory.

Quote of the Week
“To me, it’s not about money. It’s about some different goals to make me feel proud of myself. To me I would feel nice to play on the Ryder Cup once more.” – Jimenez after making a winning debut on the Champions Tour.

Stat of the Week
2,350,000 – dollars (Dh8.6m), the monthly salary of Matt Kuchar. Well…that’s what he made over the past four weeks. At Valero Texas Open, he finished tied-fourth for a cheque of $272,000, followed by $691,200 for finishing runner-up at Shell Houston Open. He was then tied-fifth at the Masters to bank $342,000, before his RBC Heritage win earned him a whopping cheque for $1.04 million. 

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