Who'd You Rather?

By Jason SobelOctober 5, 2011, 12:00 pm

Tiger Woods or best of the rest? As a tournament director, would you rather host the top 5 players in the world rankings without Tiger Woods or have Woods without the top 5 players in the world? Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel discuss.


With apologies to the rank and file, everything is better with Tiger Woods, even the slightly tarnished 3.0 version that hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2009 and has slipped outside the top 50 in the world ranking.

Consider that this week’s Frys.com Open, the winner of the Woods Fall Series lotto, doesn’t have a single player from the world’s top 5, while the European Tour’s Madrid Masters has the top dog himself, world No. 1 Luke Donald.

Just a hunch, but even fans in Madrid would rather watch the Frys.com Open.

Your avid golf fan will tune in to Fall Series events, low-key stops on the post-Tour Championship calendar. Sports fans, casual golfers, TMZ types and anyone who spent the last two years waiting to see who Woods would vote off the island next will study this week’s happenings from CordeValle.

It is the best, and worst, of the American sports psyche. We eagerly embrace the “statement” victories while secretly keeping an eye out for the next crash.

Electronics giant John Fry, the patriarch of the northern California Tour stop, has repeatedly said he wants to turn the Frys.com stop into something special. He may want to take a moment this week and savor the experience, because this is as good as golf, at least the non-major championship/cup variety, gets.


I’ll take Tiger Woods and an ecstatic title sponsor and TV partner every time.

If I’m a tournament director, I’ll take his dramatic story, his drawing power and the intensity of interest he brings. No offense to these guys, but I’ll trade No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Lee Westwood, No. 3 Rory McIlroy, No. 4 Steve Stricker and No. 5 Dustin Johnson for Tiger.

If hosting a PGA Tour event were truly about staging the best competition possible, that wouldn’t be the case. I’d take the top 5 players in the world every time, but that’s not what staging tournament golf is really about.

Tournament golf’s a business with a bottom line answering to TV ratings, ticket sales and, yes, charity dollars. Tiger still delivers to that bottom line better than anyone else in the business, better than any other five players combined. As damaged as his brand has become, he still delivers more electricity to an event than any five players combined. Yes, he doesn’t radiate with as much star power as he once did, isn’t as high on Q-rating and likeability scales as he used to be, but he fascinates more than any other player in the game. While I know there’s a good chance I’ll have a great event with the top 5 in the world playing, I’m betting I’ll have a better bottom line with Woods playing.

And, most importantly, if Woods finally finds his form and mounts a weekend run, I'm betting my tournament is more than the best golf story this weekend. I'm betting it's one of the top sports stories. Tiger gives me a better chance of sharing a stage with the NFL and Major League Baseball than any other player.


My apologies, dear readers. You’ll have to excuse my two colleagues, who are apparently still partying like it’s 1999.

Yes, Tiger Woods is still the biggest drawing card in the game. And yes, he’ll bring non-golfers to galleries and more eyeballs to television sets when he’s competing in a tournament.

That’s not what we’re arguing here, though.

While the so-called Tiger Era may not be over, it’s certainly taking a lengthy intermission as other players have stepped up to fill the void left by Woods’ competitive absence – 50 of 'em, according to the Official World Golf Ranking, who are now ranked ahead of the 14-time major champion.

Call me naïve, but if I’m a tournament director, I’d rather have the competitive balance of a field that includes the world’s top 5 players over Tiger and a bunch of B-listers. Right now, that would mean Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson would all be in the mix, ensuring more ranking points and greater chance of having an elite champion.

And if we want to talk solely about drawing power, it’s true that no individual player can contend with Woods, but McIlroy is giving Phil Mickelson a run as the second-most popular worldwide, Johnson boasts plenty of appeal and all Donald has done is ascend to the No. 1-ranking spot in the world – and stayed there.

What it comes down to is this: Would you rather have one 10-foot putt or five chances from 15 feet away? If I’m a tourney director, I take the latter and spread the wealth.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: