Does golf need Woods? What does Phil really think about the chaotic finish to the PGA? So many topics for Tiger and Rory to discuss with Jimmy Fallon on Monday night.
In the wake of Tiger Woods’ long-overdue decision to to bow out of contention for the U.S. Ryder Cup team and Rory McIlroy’s impressive come-from-behind victory at Valhalla on Sunday, we can’t help but look forward to the duo’s joint appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s "Tonight Show."
The two superstars are moving in opposite directions — the golfer formerly known as Tiger Woods is fading as the Boy Wonder’s on the fast track to immortality — so any guesses as to who gets the easy chair and who’s assigned to Fallon’s couch on Monday night will be must-see TV.
In the meantime, we posit some possible areas of discussion between the two Nike pitchmen:
Golf, it would seem, does not really need Tiger Woods
TV ratings soared without Woods in the hunt and with him nowhere in sight of a CBS camera, but does that mean McIlroy can carry the load for the networks? Not necessarily.
CBS reported a 6.0 rating for Sunday’s final round of the PGA — a 36 percent boost over last year’s 4.4 rating when Jason Dufner outdueled Jim Furyk for the Wanamaker Trophy. It was also the event’s highest-rated final round since 2009, when Y.E. Yang foiled Tiger Woods’ attempt to win his 15th major.
Considering the measly ratings for the final round of the British Open, which McIlroy seemed to have well in hand with a six-shot edge to start the day, it was clearly not just the four-time major champ who held couchers in thrall but the intensely competitive and dramatic finish that involved a scrum of players — Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, with a hint of Henrik Stenson.
(Photo: Jeff Gross)
We, along with just about everyone who witnessed Phil Mickelson’s unhappy face toward the end of McIlroy’s mad dash to the finish line at the PGA can’t help but wonder what Lefty would have said if he had the personality not of Pollyanna Phil but of, say, big baby Bubba Watson?
About that chaotic conclusion at Valhalla: we stand with Phil
While Mickelson and Fowler said later they were fine with the way things played out — McIlroy and playing partner Bernd Wiesberger hitting two shots apiece (drive and second shot) while Phil and Rickie were still playing the 18th as darkness fell and Rory held a two-stroke lead — who does not wonder if things may have ended differently if play had halted with McIlroy on the 18th tee?
What might have happened if the frontrunner had had to sleep on his lead? Maybe his drive, which he seemed to hurry in a rush to finish on Sunday, would have landed in the water (a near certainty had the rough not been so wet from the soaking rains). Perhaps Mickelson and Fowler would have played their final shots differently if they were not pressured (by McIlroy? PGA officials?) to finish in the gloaming.
It’s also quite likely things would have turned out as they did, with McIlroy’s flawless, 4-under 32 play down the stretch. With his closest challengers faltering, the world No. 1 made every shot he had to — including that two-putt on the 18th from some 35 feet.
Still, sure would like to know what Lefty said to Bones off-camera.
Woods’ workout regime vs. Rory’s
So, Tiger’s balls-to-the-walls workout routine is the source of all his back woes, lousy play, and, probably, the source of the never-ending tension in the Middle East, while there’s nothing but praise for Rory’s maniacal regimen? Was it not Woods who revolutionized fitness in professional golf and opened the gym doors to the formerly pudgy Ulsterman who’s now as buff as his Nike stablemate?
Fowler sheds all-style/no-substance label
Fowler, with top-5 finishes in all four majors this season, showed the golf world it’s not all glitz under that flat-brimmed cap. Rickie tied for fifth at the Masters, shared second at both the U.S. and British Opens, and tied for third at Valhalla. Does that make him the best golfer never to win a major or does Sergio Garcia still hold that dubious honor?
What’s next for Tiger?
We’re certainly hoping we have not seen the end of Woods, though his curtain call at Valhalla reminded more than a few observers of Willie Mays at the end of his legendary career (anyone remember Tiger’s pal Michael Jordan’s failed Washington Wizards comeback? Best that you don’t). While it was clear that Tiger was hurting throughout his entire second round, it was, if possible, more painful for anyone who’s a fan of the 14-time major champion or the game itself to watch him hobble around like a broken-down racehorse.
Which raises the obvious question — what was Woods even doing on the course, especially after he conceded his back "went out" on him on Friday on the practice range? Even the guy who professes his only goal each time he tees it up is to win had to know he had to play out of his shoes just to make the cut let alone get within spitting distance of the leaders.
Here’s hoping Woods finally takes the time he needs to heal and comes back stronger and with the explosiveness he so dearly covets and that has been missing from his repertoire for some time. We also hope that if he’s not completely healthy that he not take part in his World Challenge, even though — like the Quicken Loans National, and we all know how that turned out — the event benefits his foundation.
With Woods’ on the bench for the near future, we issue a plea to all those Sean Foley-haters (we’re looking at you, Brandel Chamblee): please stop talking about Tiger Woods’ golf swing!