Lets Fix the Battle


Did you watch it? The Battle at the Bridges. Tiger Woods and John Daly taking on Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen. Ive had a few days to sit and think about Monday nights event, and have come up with a spin.
Ultimately it was a 5 and 3 victory by Mickelson and Goosen ' if you stayed up long enough or stayed with it long enough to see its conclusion.
The ratings say you probably didnt. The rating was a less-than-healthy 3.9, which is down 5 percent from 2004 and down a full two points from the 5.9 prime-time rating in 2001.
Lets not overcomplicate things. Rating points mean millions of homes and millions of dollars available for advertisers and millions of potential dollars to professional golf in future advertisers.
Let me first say that I had no problem with the selection of the four men involved in the event. I enjoy watching Woods whenever I can. Mickelson, too, hits shots we would all like to take to the course. Daly is Daly. Hes entertainment, and hes good fun and hes good golf. I admire Retiefs ability. Goosen is a pro in every sense of the word.
I also have no problem with the concept of taking the PGA Tour to prime-time television for an event to showcase our sport, and to showcase the best talent the sport has to offer. A good window of opportunity as I see it.
Prime-time means entertainment. Entertainment should come first, not second, not third and certainly not last. (which is where I saw it.)
The ABC Sports gang gave us everything they could. But it wasnt enough.
Tiger gave us some good shots, a couple of monstrous and majestic drives, a few smiles and the same stone-faced bit of intensity that were used to seeing. But its not a tournament. Its an opportunity.
Daly gave us a few smashing drives, a few good shots and a nice interview with Ian Baker-Finch about the family he helped after lightning tragically struck at the 1991 PGA Championship. Daly seemed tired, period.
Mickelson seemed like the player who was trying to jump-start the entertainment. Unfortunately, nobody caught on. Phil, perhaps like no other player, understands the proper mix of smiles and spectacular flop shots, but Monday night was a flop ' even in victory.
Goosen is Goosen. He doesnt talk much unless talked to. He doesnt laugh much and he isnt going to rile up the gallery with a megawatt smile. His shot-making is his strength. His steadiness and sense of calm is great for majors, but not what the PGA Tour needed in its window of opportunity.
Im sure we could sit here and come up with many other formats and many other pairings that could have or might lead us to a better night of television. Desperate Housewives ratings? No. A good night of television for the golf enthusiast? Yes.
There are a couple of hundred professionals who wouldve killed for the chance to win a spot in front of America on Monday night. On the PGA Tour, a couple dozen might have embraced the idea of showman before show-stopping golf. It is my belief that Woods, Daly, Mickelson and Goosen could still find a way to hit their shots with nearly the same skill if they spent every moment before and after the shot doing an impression of Cedric The Entertainer.
Simply stated, if you cant get the Big Four (and a competition that really matters) . just dont give us the Big Bore.
Trust me, we would have gotten a much better show out of a match-up between
Neal Lancaster and Tim Herron versus Tripp Isenhour and John Maginnes. And if we had seen that, the PGA Tour, while maybe not showcasing its best stars, would have shown us depth and a disdain for the boring.
Sell me on your thoughts, sell me on your match-ups, sell me on your formats. Maybe prime-time television will be listening.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann