Sorry Stricker, I’m Bored

New #2 seems like a really nice guy, but hard as I try, I can’t get jazzed up about him. Help me figure out why.

Thrash TalkHe’s a nice guy. Really nice. So nice he cries tears of joy every time he wins. I can buy that. Actually I can root for that. A pro athlete who really cares, whose default emotion is to weep, rather than throw a club and drop F-bombs on live TV. Steve Stricker’s the opposite of everything I can’t stand in His Tigerness, so in theory I should be president of the Stricker fan club.
But that’s where I’m stumped. I see Stricker’s name on the leaderboard and I might as well have taken an Ambien. There’s no spark, no sizzle, no swagger, no pop. So what is it I look for as a golf fan?

I guess the best way to define it is to run down the list and see if there’s a pattern.

Phil Mickelson
I never saw Arnold Palmer in his prime. Never even saw him competitive on the senior circuit. But I saw him at a charity skins game with Michelle McGann in the 90s and knew right away why he’s so beloved. He connects with the fans and he’s number one in the hearts of the gallery.

Phil pictures fans
Phil – whether you regard him as a fan favorite or a phony, he’s no Steve Stricker.

From the minute I started watching golf, I felt the same with Mickelson. He’s fallible, as all his disappointments prove. And he’s always on the verge of something amazing, like the front nine at last year’s Masters. Follow him at a tournament and he’ll fist bump between greens and tees. He’ll acknowledge a “keep your head up Phil” after a bogey. Unlike Tiger who stays as far from the ropes as possible, Phil relishes the crowd. Sure, he’s more successful making friends than winning majors, but that’s just fine by me, although there have been simply too many duds and not enough roars since Winged Foot.

Verdict: Unabashed Phil fanatic, but need more payoff for all the heartbreak.

Tiger Woods
In theory, I can’t stand him. In reality, I can be as captivated by him as any. He’s robotic, he’s aloof, and he acts like a child on the golf course. Just like pro wrestling, sometimes it’s more fun to root against a so-called villain, and for me, Tiger fits this mold. He’s the best, he’s so far and away the best it’s not up for debate. It was so easy to root for Y.E. Yang as he took down Goliath, just as we will root for San Houston State to beat Duke during March Madness. Although I’m the first to admit there are certain Sundays I’m left with jaw on the floor and Woods works his magic.

Verdict: The perfect villain. Respect his greatness, hate his act.

Sergio Garcia
Another villain, you really need to love a bad boy to jump on his bandwagon. He’s got charisma and he’ll be anything but boring, but for a guy who’s accomplished nothing, he gets a lot of attention. He comes across as one of the most self-important guys out there. From spitting into the cup to ripping Augusta National, he never seems to have left his teenage immaturity behind.

Verdict: Golf would be far more boring without guys like Sergio, but I’d love to see him beaten down the stretch any Sunday.

Adam Scott

Adam Scott
Here’s a guy who has crept up on me the past couple years. I think he’s got a bit of Greg Norman to him. Foreign mystique, sweet swing, commands a presence. They say Norman was someone guys wanted to be, and women wanted to be with. I’d say Scott fits this mold. Check out his site and it just screams class, jetsetter, and a cool customer – and not in a table service, Vegas nightclub, d-bag way.

Verdict: If my wife and I can agree on watching someone play golf, he’s got to be doing something right.

Padraig Harrington
First, as someone whose played Wilson Staff irons for 15 years, there’s a connection. Second, the guy is real. Seeing him in person work the crowd last summer was astonishing. He’s a multiple major champion who spent 30 minutes getting from the clubhouse to the range because he stopped to sign every single autograph request (the same walk Ernie Els, Mike Weir, and many others navigated without breaking stride). Third, the guy can flat out win. Fourth, he sure can lose, and losing in shocking fashion (bladed flop shot into the pond anyone?) can be just as endearing.

Verdict: A proven winner who’s well grounded is hard to beat.


The “Who Cares” Crew
Scanning the top 20, there are more names that make me hunch than get my juices flowing. Jim Furyk is the king of this group. Kenny Perry, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Zach Johnson all induce a yawn. Westwood’s always intrigued me but he’s choked more times than Mickelson without the tragedy. And world number 20 – Retief Goosen – gets a place in my all-time Boring Hall of Fame. Between him and Vijay Singh, I couldn’t tell you who puts me to sleep first.

Verdict: Need to do something more than rack up Top 10s to gain my love.

The “It” Group
There are a bunch of players who get a lot of buzz these days, and I can see why. I’m far from an ageist, because I’d love nothing more than see Ernie Els reach the top five again, but there’s no coincidence I find myself rooting for the young guns. Maybe it’s the desire for something fresh, or the fact they’ve got the pizzazz I’m been yammering on about. But give me Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Anthony Kim any day. Hell, I’ll even toss Ryan Moore on this list. Can’t stand his wardrobe and he looks like he’s too cool for school, but I’m warming up to him, because he stands out.

Verdict: The Tour is desperate for excitement and so am I. These guys can inject it.

The Conclusion
I’m not sure it’s possible to apply any sort rationale to what sort of guy I root for. I know he’s got to have charisma, and carry himself with class. He might be a big winner, or a lovable loser, but whichever it is, it’s got to be dramatic. All in all, I guess it’s all about the personality, and simply enough, it’s a gut feel. Am I missing a common thread? If so, I’d love to hear it.

Photo Credits: © Erik J. Barzeski / The Sand Trap .com.

21 thoughts on “Sorry Stricker, I’m Bored”

  1. Ha. The only thing robotic about Tiger Woods is how often he beats Phil (and everyone else). Y’know, there are plenty of others who view watching Phil as more of a robot. Same phony smile whether he’s made eagle or double, same autographs, same everything. Isn’t that more “robotic” than Tiger? You get the ups and the downs with El Tigre.

    Now, I don’t think much of the “man” Tiger is, but between the ropes? Who cares? Lefty humbles himself repeatedly, while Tiger elevates himself repeatedly. I’ll take the latter.

  2. The main group: Mickelson, Woods, Garcia, Scott, Harrington – I agree with 100%
    The “Who Cares” Crew I’d add Trevor Immelman.
    The ‘It’ Group – + Martin Kaymer and Alvaro Quirós (as ones I personally like to watch).

    Other than that, the article is spot-on!

  3. The last word i’d use to describe Stricker is boring. The reason why you and others can’t appreciate him is because you don’t appreciate subtle greatness. You need the f-bombs/emtotion(tiger), variance (phil), potential (the youngsters), or some other T&A to get your attention.

  4. I still like Stricker. It took so long for him to prove how much he loves his game and how good he can be, only in a gentle manner. That could be no sensation, but I do appreciate that.

  5. To me, and this was when I was younger and was more interested in “action sports”, for the longest time golf was “an old man’s game”, or “as exciting as watching grass grow”. Along comes one Eldrick Tiger Woods and bam, hell, golf is now exciting to play and to watch on TV or in real life. Truth be told, among all the players listed in the article, TW and only TW has and can consistently provide the drama and excitement in golf. He makes it exciting whether he’s winning by 10 shots or in a playoff. To me, I think that’s what’s missing !!!

  6. The golfing (folk) seem to favor interchangeable and faceless personality. I think alot of golf fans always dispised TW’s competative agression and firece level of focus. As somebody else said, golf is still, mostly, and old mans leisure sport. So Tigers game might seem foriegn and uncomfortable to alot of people. Until the baby boomers die off i think your still gonna see pushes for players like Stricker and Mickleson over players like Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods.

  7. Well written article! I couldn’t agree more with your insight on every player. I’d rather cheer against Sergio on Sunday than cheer for Retief. Boring!

  8. Glad to see the Quiros love, I have high hopes for him, but left him off the list because I just haven’t seen enough of the guy. I mentioned him in my 2010 predictions as star in the making (Dustin Johnson, too) and he seems to be off to a great start. As for Kaymer, I know there’s a lot of buzz about him, but honestly haven’t seen him play at all, but a guy I do want to check out.

    As for Tiger, I know there’s such divided camps between Tiger and Phil, so I expected to get plenty of grief. His emotions and fist pumps make for great theater, and I can’t deny I get wrapped up when he’s putting on a Sunday show. But on the whole, I just can’t go crazy for a guy who seems like he was bred to play golf. He’s too perfect for my taste. When I call him robotic, it’s more about his ability to vanish into his own world on the course. If you like him, you’d call it “in the zone” but for me it’s a disconnect with the fans and it’s offputting. I’d say rooting for Tigers is like rooting for a golf machine, programmed to win. I actually think the off-the-course stuff might make Tiger more likable in the long-run, since it demonstrates he is human, and isn’t perfect.

    As for Stricker … I completely respect him and his game. But I respect it the way I respect my accountant’s ability to file my taxes. Doesn’t mean I want to sit around watching him crunch numbers all day.

  9. Oh man, i love to hate all the Tiger haters and greeders and i love it even more to hate the Phil”anthrop” Mickelson fans.

  10. I feel the same way when I watch Stricker play, no excitement there. However, with Phil I love the excitement he generates.

  11. Stricker is one of the best in the world from 100 yards and in, and he is a hell of a putter. I don’t understand how anyone can’t enjoy watching that. I enjoy watching great shot makers, and your “boring” list is made up of many of my favorites. I respect your opinion, but I definitely disagree with it. If Stricker wins all 4 majors this season, I wouldn’t be disappointed at all. I’ll settle for one though. 🙂

  12. Some interesting perspectives on TW in here. For me, the reason he’s the most compelling figure in the sport isn’t sociological, racial, or anything else. What separates Tiger Woods from Phil, Ernie, Stricker, or anybody else is that, when the moment calls for a shot, Tiger moreso than any player in any sport, comes through. Golf Channel shows the “Tiger’s top 10” shots, but could easily come up with 20, or 50 that represent why he is the best in the game.

    Is Phil great? Yeah, he’s a special talent. But (it seems to me), the big difference with Phil is he’s soft. When he’s on his game, he can beat anybody (including Tiger). But (more often) he’s “just a little off”, and he never seems to be able to will himself to victory without his A game.

  13. Great article and I agree with quite a number of the relevant comments, but on the Tiger debate. Do not knock greatness, remember a golfer enters a tournament for one reason and one reason only. To WIN and Tiger does it more than anyone else. Yes he can act inappropriately at times and he seems to keep his distance. The recent events may change him I hope so. However he is the best thing that has happened to golf in recent times. I have been watching the start of the 2010 season on TV and a certain Mr Woods is sadly missed. I do not stay with the programme for as long as I wood if he was playing

    Come back soon Tiger the games needs you badly

  14. The last two comments definitely ring true for me. I’ll be the first to admit there are times I’m left in awe of Tiger. The final round of the US Open, when he’s in so much pain my eyes are watering just watching, and to see him force a playoff when you don’t even expect he’ll finish the 72nd hole, that’s magical. There’s a reason he’s the big bad Tiger Woods, and it’s moments like that. So even if I can’t root for him routinely, as a golf fan I can recognize and respect his greatness and his greatest moments for how special they are.

  15. You have hit the nail on the head right now the PGA tour has about as much personality as a loaf of wonder bread.

    If you got rid of Tiger & Phil what you are left with… not much.

    There is no reward for PGA tour players to be interesting. If they keep their mouths shut and play nice between the sponsors and prize money they are walking away with a million bucks.

  16. I’m a big fan of Stricker. He works hard, isn’t flashy/dramatic, and wins. I respect guys like that. He lets his clubs do the talkin, and they have a lot to say. I also like David Toms for similar reasons, though his clubs have only been mumbling recently.

  17. The European Tour is where all the interesting characters are:

    Rory MacIlroy – super talented, curly haired teenager who’s in the world top 10 and only just out of short trousers

    Ian Poulter – Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him (not in those clothes anyway)

    Miguel Angel Jiminez – Don’t you love a golfer who wears handmade shoes, wears his hair in a pony tail, drives a ferrari and smokes 10 cigars a day

    Padraig Harrington – 3 time major winner with the funny walk and engaging personality.

    You yanks should have a look at the European tour as the golf is often more exciting.

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