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.


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56


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