“Golf’s Greatest-About to Go Away”
They tee off tomorrow in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
I spent a chunk of yesterday morning talking golf, some about the redesign of the course, some about players, some about styles, and some with the world’s #1-ranked golfer, the Aussie Jason Day.
And then it dawned on me, we are watching the end of an era.
Day is the best the globe has to offer. Rory McIlroy flashed on the seen just a couple of years ago, as the so-called heir apparent. Jordan Spieth has given us glimpses of thrills.
The baton, whether we want to admit it, has been passed.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are in the twilight time of what have been glorious careers.
I don’t know if we can compare that duo to the impact that Arnie Palmer and Jack Nicklaus had on the game in the 1960s and 70s, but Phil and Tiger surely have dominated.
Woods, coming off three back surgeries, and prior to that, his sex scandal, has never really recaptured the dominance, nor regained his global popularity..
79-wins is a spectacular number. 14-Grand Slams is even greater. But that all appears in the rear-view mirror.
The last time Woods raised a major trophy was 2008, playing, limping thru, then winning the US Open right here at Torrey Pines, on a broken leg.
He hasn’t won on the tour since 2013. He is now (41) and no longer a picture of health. He has made millions, but lost alot of luster in his life.
Mickelson has had health issues, a joint disease, that has taken away some of his game. He is coming off double hernia surgery.
The “fans man” has 42-careeer wins…and has won 5-majors. And all those second place finishes (6) in the US Open.
But even he has suffered a jolt to his reputation, especially the SEC-insider trader scandal with gambling friends in Las Vegas.
Neither may ever win again on the tour. Oh there will be brilliant rounds, but there will be an inability to string together 4-good days in a row.
There shouldn’t be sadness about all this, for it is the landscape of all sports. Stars get old, and are replaced the next wave of young studs arrving on the scene.
But spending time with Jason Day made me think of his countryman from Australia, Greg Norman, the last great Aussie.
And that made me think of Arnie’s Army and the Golden Bear.
And then I looked at Tiger and Phil on the driving range, and realized it all.
Forever remembering the glare-and-stare of Woods coming down the fairway, pushing his way to the top of the leaderboard on any given Sunday.
Forever remembering the constant smile of Mickelson to the galleries and how much fun it was to see him interact with one and all.