Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Observations from the BMW Champsionship, no. 1

Instead of buying Cardinals tickets this year, I dumped the whole amount into buying a week pass to the BMW Championship, which is being played in St. Louis this year. For those of you who follow golf, you know that the BMW is the renamed Western Open, which had been played in Chicago from 1962 to 2007. Now, it is a rotating tournament, moving between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

I thought that buying the tickets was a no-brainer. They were allowing juniors to go free with a paying adult and this would be our big chance to see Tiger Woods (I followed Tiger and Jack at Jack's last PGA Championship in 2000 at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky). Well, obviously, following Tiger is not possible this year.

And it struck me that if Tim Finchem (commissioner of the PGA Tour) wanted to know what life would be like in professional golf without Tiger Woods, he is discovering it right now. Once Tiger had surgery on his knee in the days after his ridiculous victory at the US Open, it sucked the life out of the golf season. And it sucked the life out of important tournaments like the BMW Championship.

I mean, this should be important--the third of four playoff tournaments for the FedEx Cup with $10 million in the balance, tickets should have continued to sell, buzz should still have been generated, etc. But wandering around the golf course today, I was struck by how few people there really were there for a practice round and how little buzz there was on the course. Granted, the Deutsche Bank Championship just got done last night; the players arrived last night and this morning; and perhaps over the weekend, people will get into it. And granted, it is not fair to compare this to a major championship--I went to the Monday practice round for the 2000 PGA and the excitement was palpable.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder if Tiger were coming, whether it would have been different. I think it would have been: St. Louis has never seen Tiger up-close and personal (we would have in 2001, but the AmEx Championship was canceled because of 9/11). We would have gone crazy with Tigermania. There would have been 40,000 tickets sold (as opposed to 25,000) and people would have wanted to be there, even for a practice round.

Instead, it felt less like an important tournament and more like a side tour stop, less playoff and more John Deere Classic. It is a shame, really. I'll still be going to as many tournament rounds as possible. But it would have been great for St. Louis golf if it had been what we thought it was going to be.

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