The headline in our local paper read: Top Trio Prepare to do Battle. Obviously the article focuses on this weeks Bay Hill Invitational and the fact that No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Vijay Singh and No. 3 Ernie Els are all teeing it up this week. As you may know, there are scenarios whereby each of the top 3 could end the week as the No. 1 ranked player.
And the way each has been playing, youd have a hard time betting against any of them laying an egg at Arnies place.
Throw in No. 4 Phil Mickelson (whos not playing) and the race for the top of the World Golf Ranking is as hot as the weather here in mid-August. Each man has a legitimate argument for the title as worlds best player ' right now.
The one thing that caught my attention in the article was a quote by Chad Campbell ' the defending champion ' who ran away with the title last year and is certainly no mans sand-filled divot to step on.
Its tremendous for golf that its that competitive up top, said Campbell. I just wish I was a part of it.
Interesting huh? A part of it. A part of it. A part of it.
Arnold Palmer himself chimed in by saying, This is the kind of thing you want to see more and more of.
Is The King right? Do we love the Top 3 of 4 players in the world getting in each others way every week for the tours given title?
Heres the list of winners this year:
Stuart Appleby, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Geoff Ogilvy, Tiger Woods & Padraig Harrington.
Each man, aside from Ogilvy who won in Tucson opposite the WGC Accenture Match Play which went to Toms, has been a fixture this year among the Top 20 in the World Golf Ranking.
So whats happened to the trend of 18 first time winners we saw just a few years ago? Where are the titles available to guys like Vaughn Taylor and Bart Bryant? Heck, what about the poor stars like Jerry Kelly and Charles Howell III?
OK, take it a step higher. Where do superstars like Love and Garcia and Weir fit in anymore if Woods, Singh, Els and Mickelson are playing? Lately they dont.
Whats happened to parity?
Take nothing away from Stuart Appleby and Justin Leonard and David Toms and Padraig Harrington. Each man is more than capable (Toms did it a few weeks ago) of winning the biggest of tournaments. But the PGA Tour today seems reserved for four men.
Arent all these guys good?
Its not just media hype surrounding the Big 4. Its galleries. Its television ratings. Its trophies. And its rounds of 59 and 61. And its 337 yard drives on par 5s and 387 yard drives to the green on par 4s that make guys like Jim Furyk seem like your buddy playing in the A Flight of his Club Championship.
My question is: Do we miss the chance each week where everyone seems to have a chance? A week when parity stands out on the PGA Tour and a look down the leaderboard at the end of Sunday finds Tiger, Singh, Els and Mickelson no better than a T11?
Or is a win by Darren Clarke simply not any good unless he beats Tiger and Ernie?
Is parity good only if were talking about a level of consistency among the Big 4?
From where I sit, this has been the best start to a PGA Tour season in the 10 years Ive been at The Golf Channel. The run for No. 1 is as good as it could be.
My confusion in all of this, I guess, is about assessing the depth of field. Is parity what we want and demand in golf at the highest level?
Should we hope for a tour where any of the fully exempt 125 could win on any given week ' or a tour where we continue to see golfs Big 4 battle it out at the expense of airtime and publicity and promotion for guys like Chad Campbell.
Arnie, himself, said this run of dominance by the best of the bet is the kind of thing you want to see more and more of.
And I think I agree. But how much more and for how long?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann