Somethings Missing Heres a Cure


No Tiger, Phil, Vijay or Ernie in Cromwell, Conn., this week. Make it six straight years now that Annika Sorenstam hasnt teed it up in Betsy Kings Wachovia LPGA Classic.
I hate to say it, but this week just hasnt felt right. Normally, I dont look for the negative in a weeks golf schedule. But its been tough to get excited this week.
All signs pointed to the seasons final major championship ' the JELD-WEN Tradition, but Day 1 play on Thursday was a day for the Ducks and the Beavers in Oregon, not the golfers. Too much rain falling to keep my spirits high.
Speaking of Ducks and Beavers, this is the time of year when football begins to dominate the national media. Cmon, tell me youre not going to tune in for USC vs. Virginia Tech!? Truth is that Fall is when excitement for golf falls off. The tours top players fall off as well. We wont see much of Woods, Mickelson, Els, maybe even Vijay.
Heres what our favorite sport needs: We need a new hero. We need a player to step up on the PGA Tour and get on a victory run. And why not a man whos ready to bust? Or how about a lady whos been off of our radar screen of late?
Here are some PGA Tour possibilities:
  • Charles Howell: Too much talent to be without a win this year, or last year. Just one win for Howell on the tour. We know hes got the ability. Being 34th on the money list isnt anything to complain about, but hed be a perfect story for the rest of the year.
  • Zach Johnson: Hes 29th in money. Like Howell, you can bet hell factor into many Ryder Cup conversations in years to come. Zach already has a win this year and a ticket to Kapalua. Might as well head to the Tour Championship with some real appeal.
  • Jonathan Byrd: A winner this year at the BC Open, Byrd has two career wins and has the ability to add 10 more before hes done. Great golf swing, great attitude. Throw in Chad Campbell and you might just have the four most talented American youngsters.
  • Hank Kuehne: Hes dangling at 109th on the money list. But his run in Hartford this week shows just how much ability he has. Among the players Im talking about, Hammerin Hank would be the biggest fan favorite. Plenty of length, but a bit short on results.

    p.s. Can we get Steve Stricker back on track for good? At 131st in money, hes got some heat on him. Hes also got plenty of support behind him. What about Brian Gay? Hes spent more money on Sunday than a third of the PGA Tour has made all year. Look at his Sunday numbers. A bit sad, actually.
    p.s.s. Can you believe Pat Perez, Craig Perks, Chris Smith, Steve Elkington, Rich Beem are well outside the coveted top 125?
    Here are some LPGA Tour possibilities:
  • Grace Park: Grace has the ability and the personality to be as big a draw for the LPGA going forward as Annika Sorenstam is now. Park is fourth on the money list right now, but halfway in money to Annikas $1,665.208. It would be great for the tour if Grace rode into the ADT Championship with a few more big moments.
  • Lorena Ochoa: Ochoa is a remarkable third in money. She turned professional in 2002. This year she won for the first time. Shes one of the LPGAs greats now ' it can only get better.
  • Natalie Gulbis: Natalies earned more publicity for her looks than her play. The numbers say we need to pay attention to what her clubs are saying. Natalies 41st on the money list ' very respectable. Shell win, and when she does, look out. The LPGA will promote her to no end.
  • Hilary Lunke: Since winning the U.S. Womens Open in 2003, Lunke had just 4 rounds in the 60s. That was before this week. Now she has six heading into weekend play at the Wachovia. Wouldnt a win be sweet?
    p.s. Can we get Karrie Webb back to form? Like the Champions Tour days of old when Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan battled every week, Sorenstam and Webb were a dynamic duo. For that matter, lets get Kelly Robbins playing better week-to-week instead of just the week of the U.S. Womens Open.
    p.s.s. Hard to believe whats going on with Kelli Kuehne (59th) and Beth Bauer (102nd). Both are looked at as a dose of the future of the Solheim Cup for the United States. Were a long way from next years visit to Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., and both look to be a long way off the game that will get them there.
    A couple of other things that could get people talking during weeks dominated by the Cowboys and the Patriots, the Bulldogs and the Seminoles.
  • D.A. Points, Jimmy Walker or Kevin Stadler winning for the third time on the Nationwide Tour and moving up to the PGA Tour.
  • Ben Crenshaw finding some magic on the Champions Tour before the year is out.
    Im not saying that Im desperate for some lightning in a bottle. But the facts are the facts. People will need a reason to stay on top of golf in the coming weeks. The Ryder Cup is only one week on the remaining schedule. We need something to spice things up.
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann