AUGUSTA, GA. – Now that Tiger Woods has made golf majors history lessons again, this is time for another:
Believe it or not, when Woods began dominating the PGA Tour with his distance and mental toughness, Augusta National Golf Club and many other tradition-bound courses and individuals tried to “Tiger-proof” the game.
That’s right. There was a time when golf thought of Woods’ dominance as a negative.
That’s how backward many in the game were, back when it was news that Augusta National had finally added a black member.
Now that Woods has returned to his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, we know how ridiculous that sentiment was.
Golf is better with Woods healthy and involved, and it is light years better when he wins.
His victory comes at a fascinating time for golf, and for Minnesota.
Minnesota golf fans are legion, and they are accustomed to waiting. Since 1959, Minnesota has played host to five major men’s golf events: two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup. The last three of those events — the PGAs and the Ryder Cup — were massive financial and entertainment successes for the state and Hazeltine National.
This summer, TPC Twin Cities is the site of the inaugural 3M Open, the PGA Tour event that replaces the PGA Tour Champions 3M Championship. The event will not be able to match a major or a Ryder Cup in national attention or historical relevance, but the 3M Open will be something that traditional sports fans can identify with.
Like a local team, it will be ours, it can be counted on, and it can be anticipated all year, every year.
“The majors in Minnesota have been great,” said tournament organizer and superstar whisperer Hollis Cavner last week at the Masters. “But there’s nothing like having your own tour stop.”
Cavner has promised to turn the 3M Open into “an event.” The Zac Brown Band will play, kids can get into the tournament for free, and Cavner has already recruited a handful of outstanding players. The list at the moment includes Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Si Woo Kim.
All six competed in the Masters this year, and four have won majors. DeChambeau’s scientific experimentation and willingness to talk about it makes him one of the most fascinating golfers in the world.
With those six as headliners, the 3M Open could be a fun and exciting event. If Tiger Woods decides to visit Minnesota in early July, the 3M Open will become a historic event. The chance to see Woods, at 43 and coming off his 15th major championship, will make the 3M Open a can’t-miss ticket for even casual golf fans.
Cavner said that he has been wooing Woods and his people, and that if Woods plays that week, he will play at the 3M Open. Sunday, after Woods won his first major in 11 years, he said that he plans to play in fewer events this year than he did last year, that he wants to make sure he is rested for the majors.
The 3M Open will be played two weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks before the British Open. Woods will have to decide whether he values rest or competition that week.
Let’s hope he values competition.
There is nothing in sports quite like walking near Woods when he is playing golf, or seeing the way fans react to him. This week at the Masters proved that. Woods lures the casual sports fan, even the non-sports fan.
He is a phenomenon, and Cavner will do all he can to land him.
If Cavner Tiger-proofs the TPC Twin Cities, that will mean he stationed a chiropractor and a masseuse at every hole, and rented out the Mall of America for Tiger’s kids.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org