LPGA Champions Would Love Big 4

RSS

This week marks the fourth time the so called and much hyped Big Four have gotten together this year. Tiger, Vijay, Ernie and Phil have gone head-to head at The Buick Invitational, The Players Championship, The Masters and now the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
 
Tiger has two victories among those four events. If you take Ernie out of the equation and go with the other three names, then Vijay Singh earns a W for his playoff work last weekend at the Wachovia Championship.
 
Each of the four men has three worldwide wins this year ' all of Ernies coming overseas.
 
The statistics dont do as much for me as the overall big picture. To me, its the simple fact that the PGA Tour is fortunate to have four players with such star power and such appeal that people talk about it. As the year plays itself out, each man will get his fair share of wins ' thats just the way it always works.
 
The LPGA and the Champions Tour should be so lucky. And for that matter the Nationwide Tour as well.
 
The LPGA has the great fortune of Annika Sorenstam. But who else really jumps off the weekly commitment list? The Champions Tour has been blessed to have had Hale Irwin over the last decade or so. And yes, the Champions Tour has a good number of great champions on its weekly list of tournament pairings. Tom Kite, Craig Stadler, Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller headline a top notch cast of talent.
 
But neither tour has such star appeal, such domination, and such drawing cards as does the PGA Tour these days.
 
Dont get me wrong, I really think the Champions Tour and the LPGA are as strong top to bottom as they may have ever been. The Champions Tour has no dominant player these days. The LPGA ' take away Annika ' has plenty of parity.
 
But its just not the same. Hey, we all know the PGA Tour rules. Fine. Its always been that way. But there were days in recent memory when each tour had its star power spread out just a bit.
 
Remember the Champions Tour season when Irwin and Gil Morgan went head to head seemingly every week? Ok so it wasnt Nicklaus and Palmer, or Nicklaus and Trevino. But Irwin and Morgan, Irwin and Fleisher and Irwin and Nelson gave us a run for the money and a storyline to follow.
 
Remember Annika and Karrie? How good was that? What about Annika and Se Ri? For a few years the LPGA had a Big 3 we fell in love with. I miss it.
 
Believe me when I say that neither the Champions Tour nor the LPGA is a bad product. Its just that both lack the get me fired up storyline to hype.
 
You can bet that Nationwide Tour officials and players alike would like nothing more than for a two or three horse race to develop this season that keeps people talking about when theyll next clash for the battlefield promotion.
 
These are great times for the PGA Tour. Tiger might not be at his very best. But the rankings say hes the best of the best. And those right behind him in that race for No. 1 are true superstars that really move the needle as we like to say.
 
Dont take it for granted.
 
Maybe you dont like the media banging the Big 4 drum week in and week out. Sometimes I, myself, feel for those left out of this continuing soap opera. But the facts speak for themselves. Theyre the Big 4 for a reason. They win, they draw and rarely do they disappoint.
 
In the NBA, you dont often check the box score and see Shaquille ONeal with only 5 points and 1 rebound do you? Does Allen Iverson score 48 one night and then 7 the next?
 
When Dennis Eckersley was saving game after game after game for the Oakland Athletics, there was this virtual lock that hed deliver every night.
 
Thats what the Big 4 on the PGA Tour seems to do. Win every week? No?
 
Golf is a sport with little guarantee. But these days, when the big guns show up for a PGA Tour event, its a pretty safe bet that theyll be in the hunt come Sunday, making for a continuing storyline that appears to have a pretty long shelf life.
 
I for one, think its great. And when it comes to the majors ' its even better. If the underdog comes and steals their spotlight ' so be it. It makes for a terrific story. and a virtual lock for one of my columns the next week.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann