Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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It's official: Golf no longer 'needs Tiger Woods'

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: August 11, 2014 - 11:12 AM

Rory McIlroy and Bernd Wiesberger teed off as the leaders in the PGA Championship around 3:30 p.m. (Minneapolis time) on Sunday. There were a couple of times when I clicked over to see if the Twins actually were going to win a game against Oakland, so maybe I missed it, but this was a shocking occurrence in the telecast:

I don’t think any of the announcers felt the need to mention the name Tiger Woods over the next 4 ½ hours.

Yes, there was a on-screen graphic pointing out that McIlroy would become the third-youngest player to win four majors, with Woods and Jack Nicklaus (in that order) having been younger.

Beyond that, mark down August 10, 2014 as the day that golf finally offered the personalities and the drama to wean the public off Tiger. Never again will an on-course commentator or a studio panel be required to utter the cliché, “Golf needs Tiger Woods.’’

If Tiger wants to get healthy, figure out that gawd-awful swing that he now features and become a contender into his mid-40s, as is Phil Mickelson, that’s fine, but golf does not need that comeback in order to be a fantastic attraction in the years ahead.

When stating this, we’re talking about majors, and the next tier of tournaments (the Players, World Golf events, FedEx playoffs, a couple of the pre-Masters events in Florida), not the weeklies that never attracted Woods, and aren’t going to regularly feature McIlroy and the other young stars.

Sunday’s rain delay pushed the duel for the Wanamaker Trophy all the way past dusk at Valhalla. As the USGA has discovered when it holds the U.S. Open on the West Coast, it’s good for ratings when a major is decided in prime time.

The overnight rating for Sunday was 6.0 with a 13 share … the highest for the PGA Championship in five years, since the 7.5 and 17 at Hazeltine in 2009. Yes, that rating was produced by Woods, as he shot a 3-over 75 and gave away what should have been his 15th major to the unknown Y.E. Yang.

The “golf needs Tiger’’ crowd can point at that and say, “See. Golf can’t capture the ‘casual’ fans without Woods.’’

Well, on Sunday, golf captured 80 percent of the audience brought by Tiger, when he still was at the peak of his popularity, and when all those people that he clearly brought to the game started watching on that Sunday knowing that their man was going to win.

Tiger did not win, and he has yet to get that 15th major.

My admiration for Woods as an athlete could not be greater. He was the most-dominant figure in his sport that I’ve ever had the privilege to cover.

He’ll be back, he’ll compete, he might pop up and win a Masters when well past his prime as did Nicklaus in 1986, and those things will be exceptional moments. But they are not moments that golf “needs.’’

Golf – major golf – doesn’t need Tiger. That’s now official, after what occurred over four soggy days in Kentucky.

McIlroy winning a second straight major was the second-best thing that could have happened for the game on Sunday. The best would have been a first major victory for Rickie Fowler.

Mickelson? Yeah, that would have been a nice temporary hit and thrilled middle-aged (and older) golf fans that for some reason have always loved Smilin’ Phil more than Woods.

But for the future, a Fowler victory would have fully put in motion a rivalry among 25-year-olds that could carry major golf into the next decade.

I haven’t covered either of these young men – McIlroy or Fowler. From conversations with my golf-writing friends, they are both terrific guys, not as guarded as Woods, and not as full of bull as Mickelson.

If Fowler can take these four top 5s in the 2014 majors and build on that, then we have a chance to see more major weekends as wonderful as what took place at Valhalla.

This could be a longer-running golf version of tennis’ greatest rivalry: Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe from 35 years ago. That was a rivalry when as many people in this country were rooting for the European, Borg, as for the American, McEnroe.

Part of that was McEnroe’s loutish behavior; more of it was the fact it was impossible to watch Borg perform without being filled with admiration.

The same situation exists with McIlroy. Americans might want to see one of ours win, especially a non-lout such as Fowler, but it’s impossible not to be filled with admiration for McIlroy’s relentless, cool under pressure and his skill.

McIlroy’s nuked 280-yard, uphill fairway wood that set up an eagle at No. 10 and got him back in the tournament … never saw anything better than that.

It has been terrific for golf to have had Tiger Woods, the greatest player ever, for all this time, but golf doesn’t need him – not after this weekend at Valhalla.

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San Francisco 0 Top 1st Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 0 2nd Prd 16:58
Buffalo 3
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 13:33
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 0 1st Prd 1:54
Detroit 0
Montreal 7:30 PM
Chicago
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

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