I've been listening to ESPN radio leading up to the US Open. The hype regarding the threesome including Tiger, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson was just what the PGA and ESPN (which airs the event) needed. With Tiger winning 3 of his last 5 tournaments, the PGA has to be hoping it's cash cow has returned, and they're doing a good job of selling that. While listening to Amy Lawerence, one of ESPN radio's hosts it became clear just how they wanted this thing marketed.
This all star trio is a reflection of Golf, and it's place in America today. The way she spoke of Bubba Watson told the whole story. He's a good ol' boy from Florida,went to college in Georgia, helped win the SEC title, and never had a lesson, he just goes out and plays hard. Then they play a clip of Watson joking about Tiger being to big to follow guys like him on twitter. Innocent enough, but I wonder, why aren't Tiger and Phil good ol' boys. What does she even think good ol' boys means. They aren't saying this is some good ol' boy threesome. Is Phil part of the elite because he is covered in corporate logos. Is it because he is one of the higher paid, premier names in the game. Phil is the1%. The most compelling story line is the everyman vs. the big bad 1%. Aside from the fact nobody's calling Tiger boy after Fuzzy Zoeller did, and never heard the end of it. You kind of have to fit in to be one of the ol' boys and Tiger just doesn't .
It's the GOP southern strategy PGA style. You want to beat Phil because he thinks he's better than you, and he's trying to take all of your money. He looks like you, but he's not like you. Probably even took golf lessons. Tiger is the other other. He's done more for golf than anyone since the Ming Dynasty. The only thing louder than the cheers as he fell, were the tears that fell when it was truly understood that golfs fate and his were connected. His recent surge makes golfs relevancy visible but distant. Nothing a little suggestive marketing can't help. Its what golf has always had, and wanted to keep. The PGA thinks its ora of exclusivity makes it special, it openly looks for the next Tiger while the real Tiger is winning, because the real Tiger doesn't fit.
So the pressure is on Bubba, like Rory Mcilroy or Luke Donald, all once the next Tiger, all missed the cut. But the marketing, it worked, I watched and enjoyed it. Tiger is tied for first. Guys like Hootie Johnson still run golf, ESPN plays games with race, nothing new.