Another Major Season Ends With A Minor

And so the major season ends for another year. 2007’s big four will be remembered for a variety of reasons. Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Padraig Harrington clinched their first major wins. If they are to be breakthrough wins only time will tell.

But at the USPGA it was a return to form. Tiger was the story and he duly collected the 13th trinket in his march towards the Golden Bear’s crown.

Some have said that Tiger winning is dull. But let’s be honest, some people just don’t like success. If you become so myopic to his achievements that you can sit stubbornly po-faced during an exhibition of golf like Tiger’s 63 last Friday then you are following the wrong sport.

Watching Tiger in that form is surely to appreciate that you have the privilege of watching a once in a lifetime force of nature. George Best in his pomp at Old Trafford, Mohammad Ali stinging like a bee. Two of sport’s greatest that I was too young to have ever seen. But we have read the legends – just as future generations will read the legend of Tiger Woods long after he has surpassed his great hero and left the world stage.

So carp not at Tiger, instead relish the beauty of a sport that can have a superstar that is so far ahead of the rest of the field but whose dominance of the big ones extended to only one out of four in 2007. Golf defies dominance in a way that other sports do not: Tiger’s ‘real’ Grand Slam remains, for now, a pipe dream.

Golf, however, in some of its more untouched corners remains a sport much enjoyed by doomsayers and stubborn drones. So if they need a moan, how about this? The Majors that we get so worked up about every year are a fallacy.

The Open. Fair enough: the biggest tournament in the country that gave the world the game deserves its status. The US Open. Same: the national open of the country that drove the game to where it is today is, undoubtedly, a biggie. The Masters. OK: the smaller, closed field makes the case harder to argue, but sport needs romance and mystique and Augusta brings them to the table in spades.

Which leaves us with the weakest link. Because the USPGA ain’t a major. Never was, never should have been but somehow is. Step forward the great Arnold Palmer.

Because it was Arnie who invented the modern major season. Back in the 1960’s when Arnie’s Army carried Palmer to the heights of golfing that stardom that few people had dreamt possible, he sat down with a journalist called Bob Drum and created a challenge that he could chase to feed the imagination of his fans and sponsors.

Enter the concept of the Grand Slam. The great Opens on either side of the Atlantic got the nod straight away. The Masters (“too pretty to ignore”) was allowed. Which left a space. Arnold eventually settled on the PGA and used Drum to whip up support for the notion.

Which is fine in a way I suppose. Everything has to start somewhere. And ideas have come from far less auspicious places than an Arnie Palmer cocktail session.

But it seems a shame that Tiger chases a record Jack set that includes the most minor of majors. Played at the wrong time of the year on courses that don’t always set the heart beating the PGA is the one you want on your CV as an after thought.

There are better tournaments in America. And the global game of golf could surely find another great stage in another continent. Because it seems a shame that each year the great spectacle of the majors should finish with a tournament that, even when Tiger lights it up, is an anti-climax.

Perhaps now is the time for Tiger to hold up his hands and say “you know what, the real Grand Slam shouldn’t include the PGA Championship.” It wouldn’t be too much different to what Palmer did all those years ago after all.

2 Responses to “Another Major Season Ends With A Minor”

  1. Don Bennett says:

    I agree that the USPGA should be removed from major rosta. Due to the fact that it is played at a time of year in a region of USA that is inveriably bakingly hot therby disadvantaging most europeans due to the fact we don’t have hummidity as they do. I feel we would be better servedwith the Sawgrass TPC as an official major making for a more level playing field & abetter golf spectacle.

  2. Max says:

    Free to air TV in Western Australia does not bother showing anything but the results of the PGA so obviously there is insufficient interest from the public and advertisers in this minor major.
    Just a fact of life.

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