PGA Tour’s Future Under Risk? Tiger Woods’s Win on the Latest Stat Report Hints Disappointing Days Ahead

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Tiger Woods turned 48. An occasion that definitely calls for celebration. But it is also a sobering reminder that no other birthdays are celebrated with as much fanfare as Woods. The former World No. 1 is, arguably, past his prime. His body has started to ache now, and he doesn’t have as much energy as he used to have. Not that he doesn’t know an antidote to this, but admittedly, he doesn’t dream of dominating the courses like he once did. Realistically, Woods said, he could play once a month. And yet, once again, Woods, whether he wants it or not, still remains the representative of the PGA Tour (and also golf) to the world.

If you had any lingering doubt about the 15-time Major winner’s right on $12 million PIP money, let us tell you that Tiger Woods was still the most-googled golf entity of this year. In 44 out of 50 US states, Woods topped the chart. While his insane achievements on the greens have something to do with this, does it also hint at a deeper worry about the PGA Tour and, by extension, golf?

When Rory McIlroy won his fourth major in 2014, two in that season, the young kid from Northern Ireland was slated to take the mantle from Tiger Woods. His proximity to the legend also helped his case. However, it’s been nine years, yet a fifth major has been hard to come by. McIlroy came agonizingly close a few times, most recently in this year’s U.S. Open.

The Northern Irish pro, however, has taken up the mantle from Tiger Woods in a different form. But the on-the-greens success on the PGA Tour has taken a hit. Moreover, the broader acceptance that the 34-year-old used to enjoy has been divided due to his severe criticism of LIV Golf, the upstart league many of his former colleagues joined.

McIlroy has been brutal in criticizing the breakaway league, alienating a section of golf fans who took a more soft approach. Moreover, Jay Monahan’s about-turn in June has totally left him in a flap. The tour he defended from the growing encroachment of a foreign force had decided to call for a truce without letting him or any of his peers know. The 24-time PGA Tour winner was a little stung, feeling like a “sacrificial lamb.”

McIlroy has also removed himself from the Tour Policy Board, one year before his scheduled end of tenure. As he looked to focus more on his game rather than championing a lost cause, the spotlight fell on another European pro who could have been the face of the tour but never became so.

Jon Rahm: A lost opportunity for the PGA Tour?

For the big bear of a man that Jon Rahm is, he never spoke with that much depth in his voice. Forever, the mild-mannered individual who never trashed any LIV golfer was also a generational talent on par with McIlroy. The two enjoyed a camaraderie that was evident even after Rahm left for the Saudi-backed side.

But in the PGAT, with 11 wins and two majors to his name, the 29-year-old couldn’t command the limelight like McIlroy did. Whether he wanted to or not is a different question. But Rahm was never on the board, and since the Spaniard wasn’t brushing shoulders with the top brass, Rahm remained under the radar for most of his career.

Interestingly, while wearing a Letterman jacket, Rahm spoke on TV about his hopes that LIV Golf management would listen to some of his advice. Given that Rahm was at odds with the format, it is widely speculated that the Spaniard will bring some changes to the format. It remains to be seen if LIV Golf gives him that leeway or not. But the defending Masters Champion was not the only player who lost to the PIF-funded side.

Another LIV golfer who could have been the face of the PGA Tour

Brooks Koepka was a hot prospect at one point until injury took the better of his career. So, when he bolted to the tour, fans were dismayed, considering what he had to say about the breakaway side earlier. But they found a reasonable explanation for his surprising choice. But two years later, Koepka is a revived bull waiting to charge to his next major.

The nine-time PGA Tour winner won his fifth major this year. Koepka also seemed ready to deny Jon Rahm his long-coveted Green Jacket but missed. If not for his last-round gaffe, the 33-year-old would’ve bagged two Majors this year. But the very fact that Koepka seemed rather unmoved by the loss and came back to Oak Hill with the same vigor and gusto speaks volumes about his spirited mentality.

Yes, marketing Koepka comes with obvious risks. But who doesn’t come with a risk? Tiger Woods, despite being synonymous with golf, has been lambasted for his on-course behaviors, cursing, and whatnot.

With Koepka and Rahm both at LIV Golf, the breakaway side has two of the most well-known faces in golf right now. While Viktor Hovland looks to be walking steadily towards a higher position, the Norwegian needs to maintain his steady form for a few more years to become the face of the tour. As of now, the PGA Tour still rests its head on the shoulders of a 48-year-old veteran who would rather be happy someone takes up the responsibility of saving the dwindling Tour and focuses on his comeback.

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