Tigermania Part 2 is Coming to PGA
No one asked us, but...
Here we are, barely into spring, and we have a Major golf tournament that is not The Masters.
Thank you, PGA. And we mean the organization for moving its annual its annual August time slot for Mid-May.
For as long as I can remember--and that goes back a lot of years--the PGA championship has been the fourth and least important, least exciting, least talked about of the four tournaments--Masters, US Open, British Open, PGA.
Tucked in a late summer slot, the PGA has dealt with vacatiotime, a new football season, a baseball season just starting its stretch run, the Summer Olympics and overall golf tournament fatigue. Add a series of often non-descript courses and you don't have a formula for failure, but you have a tough sell for excitement or meaning.
Add to the mixture the relatively newly created Fed Ex Cup championships the PGA is promoting and you have a series of pot holes which are hard to avoid.
But that has changed for a variety of reasons. The most obvious difference is the decision made by the PGA to move the PGA championship into a May calendar slot.
To do this the The Players Championship (played each year in Jacksonville, Fla.) had to be moved from May to March, which was its original slot.
Now instead of being an afterthought, the PGA Championship is No. 2 behind the Masters. Interest level in golf is still building, there are less distractions.
And what makes this year even more special is that the PGA is the first Major championship after Tiger Woods capped his comeback tour with a victory in the Masters, giving Tiger Major win No. 14 in his quest to overtake Jack Nicklaus.
Wait, there's more.
The PGA will be held this week at Bethpage Black, an iconic public course which has hosted US Open tournaments.
It is field filled with story lines which will draw attention for a variety of reasons.
Football is in a dormant stage in May, the baseball season has little drama this early, the NBA and NHL are winding down, but they have regional followings.
People are ready for more golf. And they definitely want more Tiger talk.
They also want a supporting cast which will include players such as Brooks Koepka (defending champion), Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, who are the morning line contenders.
Throw in CBS and Jim Nantz and the veteran broadcasting crew and you have the ingredients for high ratings and great drama.
But you also have the PGA held in May the first time since 1949, as a prime slot Major tournament.
It has not been a good spring for horse racing, which is under siege following the rash of horse deaths at Santa Anita the past several months. Throw in an industry which is trending down in interest and what seemed to be a non-descript group of 3-year olds and you had a minimal interest in this season's Triple Crown season.
But the Kentucky Derby is still the Derby and when unbeaten Maximum Security pulled away down the stretch two weeks ago, you had some buzz of excitement.
That lasted all of 21 minutes before Maximum Security was disqualified (a controversial and questionable call), which made a 65-1 shot Country House the winner.
Which created this scenario going into Saturday's second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness.
Country House will not run in the Preakness this Saturday, marking the first time since 1996 when Derby winner Grindstone did not enter the Preakness. Grindstone, in fact, retired after the Derby with a case of bone chips in his leg.
Nor will the ""winner' of the Derby, Maximum Security, be running either, as the Monmouth Park based horse spends some down time relaxing before resuming his career at the Belmont next month (longshot) or the Travers in Saratoga or the Haskell at Monmouth later this summer.