Farmers Insurance Open could land some huge ratings

Shane Bacon
January 26, 2011

Call it good luck for the PGA Tour, or call it a blessing, but the Farmers Insurance Open lands on a week with nothing really doing. College football has long been concluded. The NBA is still in the "just a few more games until the casual fan starts to take notice" phase, and the NFL has kindly given everyone a week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, pushing something ironically named the Pro Bowl at us to keep us entertained. You aren't watching that. Neither is your neighbor. What they could be watching, and hopefully will be watching, is a golf tournament at Torrey Pines.

It has been too long since we got all the big hitters at this same place in the first month of the season. Tiger Woods hasn't visited the San Diego municipal since he won the U.S. Open here in 2008. Phil Mickelson hasn't been much of a factor since he tied for fourth back in 2004. Along with that, we have a ton of other story-lines that are making golf relevant.

Should the rules be changed about viewers calling in? Is Anthony Kim totally healthy and ready for a big comeback this season? How will Dustin Johnson fare his first time out since all the personal rumors were swirling about the four-time winner? How many times did Ben Crane get in the lake during the practice rounds to help his preparation?

And on top of all that, we have Tiger and Phil. Two names that are always atop the game of golf, neither has played well enough to win since the first major a year ago. It almost always seems that when one of these two is struggling, the other picks up the slack, but that hasn't been the case over the last few months.

We've debated who needs a win more, but the story is probably bigger than we're making it. Tiger desperately needs a win, and people are clamoring about it from all the different sports circles. Mickelson is now 40, and is struggling with some personal things that he hasn't ever had to deal with before (read: health).

If the two played well this week, and were actually in the hunt come Saturday and Sunday, you'd have to be glued to your television if you care about this game at all. There isn't anything else on, and two of the biggest names in golf would be making comebacks together. If it happened, it could very well be the biggest ratings this tournament has ever pulled. The PGA Tour could use it.