It all began quite innocently in 1956 with the televising of The Masters tournament held at Augusta National. Just one look at the pristine fairways and perfectly manicured rough and Americans across the country demanded the same attention to detail from their local municipals. This day marked the end of American dominance in the sport of golf. Recent history proves how dead American golf is. Look at the World Golf Rankings, 13 of the top 25 come from countries other than the United States. The European teams have held The Ryder Cup six of the past nine years. College golf teams are recruiting players from all over the world because of their abilities. Why the shift in power? It's not due to a lack of effort: go to any course and you'll see tons of youngsters trying to emulate Tiger woods. If fingers should point, then blame should lie squarely on American golf courses.
Ernie Els, quoted in The Scotsman Evening News as saying Tiger Woods, who won eight majors between 1997 and 2002, will not be able to dominate as he did before.
Everybody has become better players and technology has brought everybody closer together. He's had a very good start (to the year), but I can’t see him being dominant again. The guys out there are a lot more confident and they've stepped up their games. No one is hitting it 30 or 40 yards past everybody else.
Els added that "at the moment, he is playing better, and more confident. But other guys will be right there." Other guys weren't there when Woods overcame the flu to win at the Buick Invitational, and only two players bested Tiger in his only other event of the season, the Mercedes Championship.
Els also said that "technology has changed the game - 12 or 15 years ago, before titanium drivers and new golf balls, it was a different game." Some quick math reveals that neither 2002 nor 1997 were even 12 years ago, but that's beside the point, we suppose.
Els could simply be expressing confidence in his own game, or the games (and fitness routines, and equipment) of others. Golf fans are in for a treat regardless.
Steve Williams, caddie to Tiger Woods, recently made the news due to a crash while racing a saloon car (video of such races can be found on Williams' personal website). Said Williams, "There was a massive amount of blood… I was looking down at my hand and saw bone… It's a pretty damaged hand. I'm going to have to make some sort of adjustment. I might have to have a little assistance from Tiger."
Obviously, we should be glad that Williams wasn't injured more significantly, and we wish him a speedy recovery. However, one has to wonder how much longer Woods will employ Williams, given his tendency for making headlines. If you recall, Williams has had several well-publicized run-ins with on-course photographers. Additionally, Woods has shown little tolerance in the past for similar behavior, separating ties with former caddy Fluff Cowan and former swing coach Butch Harmon when their respective persona became too large for Tiger's liking.
In June, at the height of the flap over Williams run-in with photographers, Woods stated that Williams, "probably went too far." It will be interesting to see how long Woods is willing tolerate his caddy's antics.
Photo Credit: © Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.