I don't get it. Unless it's one of the "major" tournaments, which this is not, normally most golf fans don't get interested in a tournament until after the "cut" is made and the real competition starts on the weekend with the TV coverage.
It seems this one is different. Why? Tiger Woods and Bill Murray were on the course.
Don't get me wrong. Murray is a funny guy -- or at least he used to be. Yet, at Pebble Beach, he's just another "celebrity" getting a chance to hang out with the real golf pros while hacking around the course. One would think some of their antics would drive the pros crazy. After all, the PGA guys are trying to concentrate on their game to do well in the tournament. It may be amateur hour to some, but it's not to THEM. Further, of all people, I'm not sure why Murray's allowed on that course, or any other one, for that matter, after what he did to hallowed Bushwood in Caddyshack with his plastic explosives. That was only make-believe you say? Well, OK, I'll begrudgingly admit that, but I still think he poses a "clear and present danger". At any rate, I don't understand why the TV people think Murray's wise-cracking on a golf course is worthy of air time.
And then there's Tiger. He's back. Sort of. Eldrick hasn't won squat yet, but just the fact that he's playing seems to be good enough for the media hounds -- not to mention hordes of his adoring lemming fans. He could be flailing away near the bottom of the field but, by god, the replays will be coming at ya.
See Tiger drive. See Tiger take a divot. See Tiger putt. See Tiger make a birdie. See Tiger 6 strokes back. It doesn't matter. The dude's going to be everywhere on the tube. Uh oh. Tiger's making a charge. Sound the trumpets. Now he's only 4 strokes back, in 4th place.
Thankfully, the TV people finally deigned to mention who was actually leading the tournament -- but only briefly. Who's in 2nd and 3rd place ahead of Tiger? Nobody knows, because it doesn't matter. It's the Tiger Woods show. Roll his highlights again, and again -- and again.
No doubt, Tiger was once the King of the golfing world. He struck fear into others when he donned the red shirt and black pants on Sunday afternoon. There was a time when many would take Tiger over the entire field in a wager.
But here's the little dirty secret. Those days are gone. Tiger's 36 years old. Like it or not, he's on the down side of his "prime", in the pro golfing world. From Peyton Manning, to Roger Federer, to Michael Jordan, to every other superstar in pro sports -- Father Time is unrelenting. Many jocks have reached the mountain top -- and even stayed there for a while -- but eventually there's only one way to go.
What's even worse for Tiger is he doesn't intimidate anybody anymore. There's young guns popping up from all over the world that couldn't care less about him, his past achievements, and legacy. These guys are really good and will get better. To them, Tiger's just another old dude in the way between them and glory. It's also no secret that Tiger has been recently stared down by some of these young guns on Sunday afternoon, and folded. That's what Tiger used to do to THEM. Now they're doing it to HIM.
Will any of them emerge to rule the sport like Tiger once did? Who knows? When Jack Nicklaus set his record for winning "majors" nobody thought somebody like Tiger Woods would come around to challenge it. It happened then, and it could happen again.
But that's the thing. There's so many of them these days that are not only great players, but have the confidence of a winner. It only takes one to get hot in any given tournament -- and Tiger can't win.
The Masters' in April will tell us something about Tiger's stature in the pro golf world, but far from all. If he gets blasted out of that tournament, it will not be a good omen for his golfing future. But that won't be his true test. After all, a player has to have won something to even qualify for that tournament. Many of the young guns won't be there.
The true test will be the other tournaments, specifically the British and US Opens, and the PGA. The hot shots will likely be there to strut their stuff.
And make no mistake, they're not only coming on now, but will continue to multiply in the future.
This does not bode well for Tiger.
Yours truly has never quite understood the phenomenon behind Tigermania, but I started to get sick of all the media hype a few years back. Enough is enough, especially for a guy that can't seem to win anymore. Now watch, just because I said that, he'll storm back and win at Pebble Beach.
If so, there will be countless millions that will hyperventilate in their excitement, and the replays will go into ridiculous mode.
But I suggest Tiger fans don't get too used to it.
Like Father Time, those other guys aren't going away either.