With all the hype of this week’s WGC based around the return of a certain Mr Woods, one could be excused for missing, what I consider something of a rather surprising, but nonetheless telling statistic; 47 of the 64 players in the field belong to the European Tour. I’ll say that again just in case you missed it, 47 out of 64! For the mathematicians out there that’s a 73% stronghold for our once inferior little tour.
Last year the number was at 31, so we’ve seen a 50% rise in just 12 months. This, to me at least, makes for beautiful reading. I love watching the American tour, I love the glitz of it all, I love watching the ‘Big Names’, I love watching their trophy wives, I love that it always seems to be sunny, and that the courses like off shoots from the seed of Eden. Its even on TV in the evening, so you can play in the day, then kick back with a beer and watch how golf really should be played, on a course you can only dream about.
But, despite all this grandeur, I’m a devout follower of the European Tour, and this is evidence that we are actually the ‘Big Name’ Tour. This is not to say we have the most entertaining golf from a purely spectating perspective. If you wanted to introduce someone to the game, you would not show him or her a Thursday afternoon’s play from Bali, where the atmosphere of the event is summed up by the sound of gentle rain hitting the umbrellas of the 30 spectators who got lost and just happened to stumble through the gates.
That, you would leave for the roar of an American gallery. Admittedly you would have to educate your virgin golf friend that it is in fact, not appropriate to shout, “Get In The Hole” when someone hits their tee shot on a 450-yard uphill, head wind, par 4. Not only are you encouraging a virtual impossibility, thereby making you look stupid, but you will most likely be chased out of your local course by an angry septuagenarian wearing a stupid outfit, he or she will later learn are called plus-4s.
You can also inform them – as they question how Australia is now a part of Europe – is that they are watching the strongest Tour the world of golf has to offer. This week proves it, with or without the world number one.