Although most of the golf fans I talk to, love these match play events such as The WGC-Accenture Match Play that is underway at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort, but the PGA, and Television Networks don’t. I know, I for one, would love to see more of them, but I don’t think it will ever happen.
What you need to understand, is the hardcore golf fans like myself will watch no matter who is playing. We watch because we love golf, and know who the good players are, the casual fans, don’t. Like any other sport, popular athletes drive the market as well as the Television ratings, and the person who moves the needle in the US, and around the world is Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and as of late, Brandt Snedeker.
As of Friday morning, only Bubba is still at Dove Mountain. Snedeker and Mickelson didn’t play in this tournament for various reasons, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have already made their way to Florida. Both number one seeds, and both losing to 16 seeds. All that remain are people who are very good golfers that no one knows.
Many of the top names that are on a level just below Tiger and Rory that could have helped here are Dustin and Zack Johnson, Jason Dufner, Adam Scott, and Keegan Bradley. They were all beaten, and will not be around for the weekend. Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, and Louis Oosthuizen will all be around for round two. These players are known, but are not enough to draw the casual golf fan to the television, and compel them to watch. These people are off to NASCAR, NBA match-ups, and preparations for the NCAA tournament which is just around the corner.
Both The Ryder Cup, and Presidents Cup are able to survive this format because the popular players are not eliminated on a daily basis, and compete as a team until the end. They are kind of a hybrid event that is match play without players being eliminated.
We can’t have it both ways. If we want the drama of win or go home like the remainder of our sporting events, then we have to live with the fallout. I personally like the format, and wish there were more of them on the schedule. Then again, I love golf, and am not a fickle sports fan.
The thing that could solve this problem would be Professional golf consolidating the various tours around the world into one governing body. The folks here would get a chance to become more familiar with European stars on a weekly basis. This is a double edge sword however. The LPGA has pretty much gone to a world tour, and has lost the American audience due to the shortage of American players at the top. The LPGA is driven by the Asian market, and has dropped in popularity here in the states.
If Michelle Wie could get her game together, she could move the needle back toward home, but she continues to struggle, and there is no other name that can drive the US market at this time.
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