Congratulations, Jimmy Walker.
And Dally Willet, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson.
You are all newly minted major champions.
Boy, I don’t like the sound of that.
With all due respect to the players, who are all FANTASTIC golfers and, from what I hear and read, great guys, too, having four first-time major winners in a calendar year is not good for the game of golf.
It’s just not.
I’m all for guys on Tour making their money and having success and winning during the year. But the majors? I want to the brand names to win those.
I read all about Jimmy Walker’s story. How he and his caddy met at Baltusrol as college rivals. They won the PGA Championship yesterday at the very spot where their relationship first began.
That’s a cool story!
Danny Willet wasn’t even sure he’d PLAY in the Masters. His wife was pregnant and due right around the time of the opening tee shot. Luckily, the baby came early and all was well. He went on to win the Green Jacket.
That’s very cool!
Henrik Stenson? Oh, he’s just the 40-something that had never gotten it done in a major squaring off on Sunday at the Open Championship against a man who had won five major titles (and finished second ten times). All he did was shoot a near-flawless Sunday 63 to edge the equally near-flawless Phil Mickelson for three shots.
What about Dustin Johnson? He came into the U.S. Open with some serious scar tissue from the 18th green in 2015’s edition of the summer classic. He had the ’15 Open WON and 3-putted the bumpy greens at Chamber’s Bay to lose to Jordan Spieth by a stroke. He then returned to the U.S. Open in 2016 and promptly pounded the field into submission with a dominant victory amid a sketchy rules situation that hovered over his shoulders all back-9 on Sunday.
That is redemption-ly cool.
However, I don’t want those storylines in majors.
I want Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Spieth, Mickelson, Jason Day (who, coincidently, won his first major in last year’s PGA) or Rickie Fowler winning the majors.
Why? It sounds so ridiculous. The storylines from this year’s majors were great. The endings were great. The drama was great.
But we only know that because we’re golf fans. Casual sports fans don’t want four hours of golf on a Saturday afternoon. They sure as heck don’t tune in at 7:30 a.m. on Thursdays. Joe Public wants something familiar when he turns on the TV and the best way to build interest in the sport is to give the public big, brand names.
That’s how you turn casual fans into hard-core fans.
When the majors are on, and the TV is turned on to golf more than it typically would be in the average home, McIlroy moves the needle. Fowler builds anticipation. Bubba brings the smiles.
I think Johnson winning the U.S. Open is the best major storyline from this year. He’s a guy that has played his way into the brand-name group. I’m happy for all four of the new major winners. I hope they do well in the Olympic and Ryder Cup.
But, when the Masters returns in the spring I’d much rather see Fowler, Spieth or Day slipping on the Green Jacket than another newbie.