This Week at WorldGolf.com: March 20, 2008
It's the golf courses - not the lack of competition - that makes Tiger Woods unstoppable on the PGA Tour
Last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando was the perfect venue for a lot of elder statesmen like Arnie and NBC Analyst Johnny Miller to collectively declare - again - that Jack Nicklaus faced sterner competition in his day than Woods faces today.
Obviously, I have my own generational bias. But calling Tiger's peers "soft" for failing to dethrone the world's no. 1 player is baseless and borderline insulting to them.
In reality, the PGA Tour has never been more competitive from No. 2 down. I blame the lengthening and strengthening of golf courses for Tiger's grasp on the top spot.
All the "Tiger-proofing" done after he came aboard has had an opposite effect on the competition. A great golf course can be plenty challenging at under 7,000 yards Pine Valley Golf Club, anyone?). But today, PGA Tour tracks are longer and greens are firmer. Finesse players like Justin Leonard went from major champions to barely hanging onto their card. This obsession over 500-yard par 4s and 650-yard par-5s has only widened the gap.
If you want more players to challenge Woods, host tournaments on shorter, finesse-style golf courses. Instead of protecting par, protect a Tiger onslaught.
Look at the Barclays last year. Westchester Country Club played under 7,000 yards and Woods, who doesn't like the course, didn't even bother to show up. He also doesn't compete at Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., another shorter, target-style course where power won't get you birdies. Woods has also been noticeably absent from Riviera Country Club lately.
At the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, said to be the "deepest field in golf" and a thorough, fair examination of the pro game, Woods has won only once.
Woods is going to be the favorite until he hangs it up, whether it's on a shorter golf course or in darts - and the majors record is inevitable. But Arnie and the old-timers shouldn't be so quick to declare his foes spineless duffers, either. Instead, they should lobby for more tournaments on venues that give the field a fighting chance.
As always, WorldGolf.com welcomes your comments.
While the current winning streak Tiger Woods brings to Doral is dominating headlines before the World Golf Championships-CA Championship, the top-ranked player in the world reiterated that when it comes right down to it, major championships remain his chief focus. "As I've always said, you want to peak four times a year and I want everything going positively that way," Woods said.
Video: WGC-CA Championship picks
The Omni Tucson National resort wanted a completely different type of golf course when it brought in Tom Lehman to design a track to compliment its PGA Tour-host Catalina Course. The 2006 Ryder Cup captain didn't disappoint, turning out the Sonoran Course, 18 holes of dramatic desert golf that couldn't look much more different from Catalina's parkland layout.
Also: Omni Tucson National shines amid big-budget revamp
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Many golf courses claim to be unique, and on some level, they all are, but there really is nothing like Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas. On what other golf course in Southern Nevada will you find thousands of Carolina pine trees? Where else can you find a two-tiered, climate-controlled practice center? And how many golf courses are just 10 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and 15 minutes from the airport?
Also: Hot Las Vegas golf vacation package deals
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