Despite the “disappointments” at this year’s major championships and The Barclays, it has been an exciting year in men’s golf. When I sized up the majors a few weeks ago, I said we didn’t get the winners we necessarily wanted, but we still got compelling narratives. I mean, all of them came down to the wire — the winner was decided in the final few holes, a putt or playoff. Isn’t that more interesting to watch than Tiger Woods, or any other player, running away from the field?
Here’s what I don’t get: Why are people disappointed that Heath Slocum won The Barclays instead of Tiger Woods? Isn’t this the same whining we heard after all four major championships? And doesn’t that complaint ignore the fact that all four majors — as well as The Barclays — were great tournaments? Isn’t the point here that sports is not so much about the destination as it is the journey? A great event is not determined by the winner but rather by what went into the winning. That’s why we are sports fans.
The easy way to write off 2009 is as the year of the almost. A 48-year-old Kenny Perry almost won the Masters. David Duval and Phil Mickelson almost won the U.S. Open. Tom Watson almost won the British Open. Tiger Woods almost won the PGA. And Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker almost won The Barclays. But what a backwards way of looking at things. Those five tournaments were remarkable entertainment. Isn’t that the best we can ask for?
Though most golf fans like to see Tiger or a sentimental favorite win, a good underdog story is just as thrilling. Tiger has been in the champion’s circle a gazillion times; it’s nice when the average Joe prevails every now and again.
The uncertainty that goes along with the result is why we tune in. It’s like if we knew the ending of a movie before it started — why bother?