Well, there may be a small amount of gold in the hole that Tiger Woods has dug himself into, and that’s the fact that Sundays should be way more suspenseful and competitive this season! When Tiger was within single digits of the lead late Saturday, I know I wasn’t the only one who almost expected him to come back, seal the deal and walk away with a win.
With Tiger out of the picture during his indefinite leave, there’s a huge void that a handful of golfers can step into on any given Sunday. Will Phil Mickelson finally deliver on his years of potential and become the elite player, the flashes of which we’ve only seen occasionally? He ended the 2009 season on a high note and may be the de facto star of the Tour now, but he’ll need to start strong to keep his critics silent. Can John Daly’s new lean look lead to fatter paydays in 2010? He’s played pretty well in Australia recently, but a few good weeks does not mean he’ll hold it together, even if we’re all pullin’ for him. Anthony Kim is another name on a lot of lips right now, too.
There’s a strong crop of up-and-comers, too, who may benefit from a wide-open field this year. Rory McIlroy cracked into the world’s Top Ten rankings before being able to legally crack a beer here in the US, and a few early wins would only build the buzz around this guy. One more youngster to look out for is Rickie Fowler, who hasn’t won much (although he did lose in a PGA Tour playoff, which is about as close as you can come) and made it through Q-school before his 21st birthday. Check out the PGAs Top 100 Golfers To Watch In 2010 for a complete list of potential breakout stars!
There’s no doubt that the PGA Tour will miss having someone who can win, or at least be a threat to win, every week like Woods. Analysts are predicting losses of as much as $220 million in 2010 for the Tour, TV networks and golf merchandisers due to Tiger’s absence. They didn’t have to go back too far to get some numbers to back that estimate up: last Time Tiger left the sport (due to injury in 2008-2009 season), there was a 47% drop in TV Ratings The PGA is bracing for similar setbacks this year, something along the lines of a 20% drop in tournament attendance.
What do you all think? Get on the record NOW about who’ll be the biggest winner in 2010!
BONUS: Tiger might be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to athletes in the field of advertising