January is typically a pretty slow part of the season for Professional Golf. With the Football season winding down and in the middle of the playoffs, most of the Sports Worlds has it’s attention on the NFL, and in particular, Super Bowl Sunday. Golf doesn’t help itself either.
Other than the kickoff on Maui for the Tournament Of Champions, the remainder of the month is spent with easy golf courses, and fields that are packed with lower tier players trying to make some headway before the all of the good players return. Even the European Tour is slow until it reaches the desert tournaments where they used to pay top names an appearance fee to play. This year’s big show included a Rory McIlroy/Tiger Woods match-up at Abu Dhabi that imploded when Rory couldn’t play with his new clubs, and Tiger missed the cut.
The Tour, and Television got a real shot in the arm over the past two weekends. It got what it needed to bring interest back to the sport just in time, as the Sports Fans are in a football hangover, and looking for the next big thing to keep them entertained through the spring. What better than Tiger Woods getting hot at his old stomping grounds, and Phil Mickelson getting hot at his?
Torrey Pines supplied the drama of Tiger Woods getting off to a great start, had a fog out on Saturday, and finished up what was turning out to be rout by the former World Number one golfer in a Monday finish. The Monday finish was ugly, but a win by Tiger Woods leaves golf fans with a taste of what can be, when Rory shows up.
Then golf’s modern Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson get’s to Phoenix early for a lesson with his swing coach, Butch Harmon, a new driver in the bag, and puts on a week of almost record breaking proportions, giving us something to watch before the big game on Sunday Night. A fabulous performance by Phil, along with a valiant charge by Brandt Snedeker, and we have one of the best tournaments of the year at a venue, that if anything, generates excitement for golf.
Record crowds on Saturday with over 179,000 fans in attendance, and over 13,000 fans at the golf arena known as the 16th hole gave us an afternoon that will be remembered for years. And to top it off, Phil hit a laser guided nine iron that needed one more bounce to go in the hole and really bring the house down.
Now that we are into February, the top players will be returning, along with some of the better players from Europe, and golf will be OK as the schedule is much better. Pebble Beach, the Accenture Match Play, and the Florida swing are coming up, in preparation for that magical week at Augusta.
I can probably speak for most golf fans when I say, we were anticipating the golf we were going to see with a healthy Tiger Woods to fend off the players from across the Atlantic Ocean, but now that Lefty has put his hat in the ring, I can’t wait. If the start of the regular season didn’t get you hyped up for golf, the last two weeks should have done the trick.
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