COMMENTARY | No matter how much golf's die-hard fans love the game, it has a long way to go before it has a chance to compete for viewership among mainstream professional sports in the United States.
That's why this week is particularly exciting not only for golf fans, but fans of sports in general.
Augusta National Moves Forward, Finally
As I've written before, Augusta National's decision to admit women to its prestigious club was a step toward making the sport more accessible. The reasoning being that golf is a difficult sport to play and has many barriers such as time, difficulty, and an elitist perception inherently built into it. By Augusta conducting its business the discriminatory way it has over its 80-year history, it perpetuated many of those challenges.
No tournament is more exciting to watch, and no course is more historic. For those reasons, the club has a responsibility to be a leader in the game, and chairman Billy Payne should be commended for his willingness to move the club and the game forward.
Tiger vs. Rory to Give Fans a Show on TOUR
When they tee it up in the same group for the first time in their PGA TOUR careers, it will make for must-see television with both players playing well. The Barclays will kick off the FedEx Cup Playoffs by pairing two marquee names with one another.
McIlroy is trying to follow in Woods' footsteps by beginning to pile up majors. Not only has he won two of them, but he's won them each by eight strokes in convincing fashion, much like the way Woods dominated in his early 20s.
Though the FedEx Cup system may not be ideal in the minds of many fans and stakeholders and could use some tweaking, having the Woods and McIlroy grouped together as world No.'s 3 and 1 respectively is a good move. It will give casual fans of the game a reason to follow the coverage of the tournament's first two rounds, which figure to be an exciting spectacle of golf at the always-challenging Black Course at Bethpage State Park.
The best thing about the pairing is that it isn't some gimmick to milk ratings out of the PGA TOUR's marquee event. Woods and McIlroy are both on top of their games, and it's an exciting time to be a golf fan.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the PGA TOUR. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com and is the Editor of Sports Out West.
For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.