Golf's Global Growth On Display At The Masters With Multinational Leaderboard
Charl Schwartzel's victory at The Masters yesterday means "no American holds any of the four major titles" in men's golf for the first time since '94, and if "anyone still thinks that golf is dominated by the good ol' USA, then you haven't been paying close attention to the sport's shifting global tide," according to Gene Frenette of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. During the final two hours of yesterday's final round, a golfer from "six of the seven different continents was at least tied for the lead at some point" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 4/11). Just three of the top 10 finishers in The Masters were American (THE DAILY). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote under the header, "U.S. Lags Behind World At Masters." Europe "has beaten the U.S. in five of the past seven Ryder Cups," and only "four of the top 10 golfers in the world are from the U.S." Australia native Jason Day, who tied for second at The Masters, said, "It just shows how strong golf is worldwide" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/10). In Alabama, Bill Bryant wrote this year's Masters is a "microcosm of what appears to be on the horizon," as the "last three majors ... have been won by players from outside of the U.S." Schwartzel, a South African, said, "America is big, but the world is bigger. Who knows? It's just a bunch of really good players coming through" (HUNTSVILLE TIMES, 4/10). The AP's Jim Litke wrote when Tiger Woods began "taking his act to the farther-flung corners of the world, it changed golf." Courses "popped up and equipment became accessible in places where once they were as scarce as McDonalds." Litke: "The reasons for the emergence of the internationals are many. But as Schwartzel pointed out, the sheer number of people playing the game beyond these shores predicted that days like this -- and many more -- were on the way" (AP, 4/9).
TIGER RESPONSIBLE FOR INFLUX OF INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS? Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said the world of golf "has gone global, and due in large part I think to Tiger Woods." Chamblee: "He certainly has made it popular around the globe and brought other athletes to the game that might have taken on other sports. You start to look at a Rory McIlroy, maybe he would have taken up soccer, or maybe a Charl Schwartzel would have come up and taken up some other sport" ("Live from the Masters," Golf Channel, 4/10). ESPN's John Saunders wondered if golf has "become more global because of Tiger," as people around the world "started following golf and wanting to excel at it." N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said the sport became more global "because of a very ill guy who celebrated his 54th birthday yesterday," Seve Ballesteros. Ballesteros "really made it a global game back in the '80s and expanded the possibilities of international players to do well by winning the Masters when he was 23 years old" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/10).
GOLF NOT DEPENDENT ON WOODS ANYMORE: On Long Island, Mark Herrmann writes Woods "didn't win ... and golf goes on." The sport is "not going out of business just because it is no longer a sure thing that he ever will match Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career major championships," and golf "will endure even if Woods never wins another title." Herrmann: "Golf will keep rolling. There might never be another Tiger Woods, but there never was another Bobby Jones or Jack Nicklaus, either. There will be someone else" (NEWSDAY, 4/11). In DC, Thomas Boswell before yesterday's round wrote under the header, "The Silence Around Tiger Woods Is Deafening." The fans at The Masters "still like him very much," but "when Woods is 'merely' in the middle of the leader board, a few shots out of the lead, but not shooting the lights out, he is often accompanied by almost total silence" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/10).
SOLUTION FOR SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN: Golfer Ernie Els said that several tour officials "have agreed to change the dates of the South African Open this fall so that it won't be held on the same week as the Presidents Cup in Australia." The AP's Doug Ferguson reported PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, European Tour Chief Exec George O'Grady and other tour leaders met last week at Augusta National "to figure out a solution." Meanwhile, Els said that there is a "five-year deal" for South Africa to get a WGC event, although he "did not mention when or where, or who would be the title sponsor." The only WGC tournament now held outside the U.S. is the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in the first week in November. Els: "Whatever happens, that's great for South Africa. It's validation of the tour and the efforts of guys who have spent their careers playing around the world" (AP, 4/9).