The Master’s is golf’s version of the Super Bowl or World Series, the only difference it’s one of the first tournaments of the season. Golf is a sport that doesn’t attract audiences like the other major sports but the week of the Master’s people around the world tune in. In 2015 as Jordan Spieth made his way down the back nine to eventually claim the coveted green jacket there were 14-million people tuned in.
Augusta National is a private course in Georgia that someone like myself gets to only see 5 days out of the year (including the par 3 contest). But when the camera’s come on and you see the colorful azaleas backed by the crisp green grass is one of the most beautiful sites you’ll see all year.
In the early 2000’s we saw one player dominate the sport of golf. Tiger Woods. He won the Masters in 1997, his rookie season by 12 strokes. Tiger showed the world who the future of golf is by shooting a course record 18 under par at his first trip to the course.
Since Tiger took the world by storm and made the sport of golf relevant in the public eye again we have seen the field get a lot better as a group, multiple guys have a chance to win at any tournament. The world rankings have been in constant motion since Tiger’s departure from the sport.
Each year it seems like 1 guy steps up and is ‘the man’ for that year. This year that was Dustin Johnson, the world’s number 1 ranked player has won the last 3 tournaments he played in. He chose to withdraw from the ‘Super bowl” of golf. On Wednesday night, the night before the tournament starts DJ took a spill down the stairs outside his house. Johnson injured his left elbow causing bruising and swelling, he also injured the left side of his lower back.
On Thursday Johnson made his way to the driving range to warm up and test his injuries. He was scheduled to be in the final group that teed off and after he made his way to the tee blocks he chose to withdraw and not put excess stress on his injuries. He told ESPN that his back didn't bother him every swing but that makes it harder because the pain comes unexpectedly.
The number one player in the world pulling his name out of the biggest tournament of the season is bad for the sport. Golf relies on their major tournaments to help spread the awareness and attract new players to the courses. In order to attract a new audience golf needs their best players to play and be in a close contention on Sunday moving down the back nine. The fans are more attracted to the sport when multiple players compete rather than 1 player running away with the tournament like we saw in 1997 with Tiger Woods.
There is multiple players who are well known still playing in the Master’s and find their names near the top of the leader board heading into the weekend. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and many more big names are still playing.
It hurts when you lose your number one contender in the sport. The experts were predicting that Dustin Johnson was going to be near the top of the leader board. The more big names that are playing well through the weekend, the more exciting the tournament is for the fans and the players. Even without DJ playing this week the Masters will still be a quality tournament but if there is not big names on the leader board come Sunday, the fans will not tune in.
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