For the record, Jay Williamson is a good friend of mine. He has been for more than 10 years. Our families have connections to St. Louis where Jay currently lives after his family spent some years in Orlando.
Sitting at home (instead of on the set of the 'Sprint Post-Game' in Cromwell, Conn.), I did both. I rooted for my friend ' and what would have been the best story.
This is hardly about my relationship with Jay. This is more of a question pointed to you.
Was Sunday at the Travelers Championship good enough? Did it prove enough about the quality of golf on the PGA TOUR? Did it say something about the fine line we always seem to talk about between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR?
Ive heard it hundreds of times ' Man, Tigers not playing this week. This field doesnt have enough of the big names, so who cares!
Sunday at the TPC River Highlands provided us with one of the years best ' if not the best ' PGA TOUR finishes.
Two players at different points in their professional careers seeking their first PGA TOUR win. Two players who couldnt have hit better shots under Sunday pressure. And in the end, one player who was just a little bit better, and whose putts were just a little bit truer.
Hunter Mahan is a great kid. He has a fantastic attitude and tremendous game. The teamwork he and his caddie displayed on the 18th hole was as priceless a bit of theater as watching Williamson sit with his head down not watching Mahans putt to get into the playoff itself.
Hunter Mahan deserved to win. And if you watched the clutch shots Williamson hit into the 18th in regulation and in the playoff - you know how good Mahan really was. Hunter 1-upped him on both occasions.
Truth be told, I had received text messages and phone calls from friends and family asking How in the world could you take the week off just as your buddy Williamson is about to win?
And funny that Jay himself had called me on Wednesday to see about grabbing dinner in Hartford that night ' not knowing I was home with family, watching my son play in an All-Star baseball tournament.
It would have been a blast. But watching the finish was just as good as seeing it in person.
I say that, because I get tired of talking about whos NOT in the field from week to week and find Sunday at Hartford as just the latest opportunity to sound the trumpet about how great golf can really be on the PGA TOUR.
Put the Williamson/Mahan dual up there with any other finish this year as the best of the best. And remember Verplank and Donald at the EDS Byron Nelson or Zach Johnson and Ryuji Imada at the AT&T Classic in Atlanta?
In fact, ratings were up 6 percent over the same weekend a year ago. And that was with no Tiger and no Phil and no Vijay in the final bit of Sunday drama.
For Mahan, that great bit of theater opens the door for many more wins and puts him among the great young players in any conversation. At 25, hes off and running.
For Williamson? At 40, with an earlier Nationwide Tour win already under his belt this year and now this -- on a sponsors exemption no less -- the career he thought might have run out might just be ready to run on into his 50s.
Jays wife, Marnie, and his three children ' who were there on the 18th green hoping for a first PGA TOUR win and the miracle finish to a Hollywood script ' might just be in for something in his 40s that never seemed possible in his late 30s.
We talked earlier this week ' just as he was on his way for yet another television interview on the heels of his storybook performance. He said, Its amazing how things come your way after something like this. Yet he still didnt know quite how to feel about how Sunday played out. Things to work on, Williamson said. But Im in a much better place than I was before the week.
Its all about the outlook. As Jay said on Sunday after the disappointing loss, Hunter played better than I did today. Maybe so. But a final-round 66 and the shot-making he showed under the pressure of trying to make good on a golden opportunity was pretty good television.
Indeed, Hunter might have played better but its also true that Sunday at the Travelers Championship played out better than most every other tournament on the schedule this year.
And dont think for a minute the PGA TOUR didnt love every bit of it.
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