Never one to fight shy of controversy, I commented recently that I thought golf in general and the Majors in particular would be more exciting without Tiger. If I had directly impugned the integrity of both the Pope and Her Majesty the Queen, I dont think I would have drawn so much flak. Evidently Tiger commands even greater loyalty among his fans that I do among my fan.
However, the evidence of this years USPGA Championship would, I suggest, appear to confirm the point I was courageously making. Would Garcia and Harringtons epic battle have been quite so thrilling if they were vying to see who would be runner-up? Not only that, but the cameras would have been so concentrating on Tiger eating a snack, looking pensive, staring into the middle distance, etc. that we would seen very little of either player.
Which brings me neatly onto my next perceptive point, which is why did both the crowds and the cameras largely ignore Ben Curtis? He was, as they say, right in the mix and yet we saw him only fleetingly. With memories of the Carnoustie play-off still vivid and the whiff of revenge and redemption in the air, the Garcia/Harrington duel was riveting but Curtis was the only Yank in with a shout and yet no one seemed terribly interested.
Although I believe I was right about Tiger, I candidly admit that I was quite wrong about Curtis. Partly because I had, by my standards at least, a huge bet on Thomas Bjorn to win The Open at Royal St Georges in 2003, I developed a certain resentment towards the man from Ohio. That led to a number of juvenile jibes, some of which suggested that Curtis might be the worst player to win a Major. However, his performances since that extraordinary day at Sandwich in particular at Carnoustie last year, Royal Birkdale in July and now Oakland Hills have enormously enhanced his reputation and I must unreservedly apologise to the man. Sorry, Ben.
What I like most about him is his ability to put together decent scores even though hes not a big boomer of the ball. As a comparatively short hitter myself, this gives me hope that I could be right up there myself if only I could develop a decent short game. However, I cant afford to hang about too long because Tiger, who doubtless reads this blog and is aware of my outspoken remarks, will, when he returns, be looking to exact a measure of revenge. What a thrill for the fans it would be if the last two pairings for the final round at Turnberry next year are Garcia/Harrington and Woods/Agran. Its something we would all like to see even though I might not personally relish it that much.