The Victorian government claims the money to lure Tiger Woods to the Australian Masters will quickly repay itself, generating major tourism dollars and cementing Melbourne as a world sporting capital. At the moment it is difficult to disagree. It appears a fine investment for the state and the country but what about the for game of golf?
With the Melbourne Cup out of the way, golf will be on the front of newspapers for a few weeks. The golf courses of Melbourne have never been busier with a major spike in bookings and tickets to the golf tournament itself sold out a month ago. Even $10 tickets to watch Tuesday’s pro-am are selling well and according to reports, many wealthy business men are throwing wads of money around like John Daly throws cameras, in order to play in Tiger’s group.
FoxSports as official broadcasting partner of the Masters will introduce a level of golf television never before seen in Australia and now Kylie Minogue is claiming to be a golf addict leading some to speculate that golf is sexy right now. Kylie’s recent fascination with the game may not be as a result of the appearance of Tiger Woods but the rest of the hype certainly is.
There is no way the same level of interest will continue once Tiger has left the country but for the sake of Australian golf, now it is a mighty fine time for an Australian golfer to step up and become our next sporting hero. Greg Norman’s shadow is a hard one to step out of, especially with his hat on. He is still in the news, on and off the course and even non-golfers tend to take interest when his name is mentioned. Let’s face it, the golf world takes notice when Norman is in the news.
If you believed what was said by golf experts five years ago, Adam Scott or Aaron Baddeley would be Australia’s golf pin-up boys right now. Geoff Ogilvy has the US Open under his belt but has failed to make a mark on the general sporting public and now high expectations are placed on the shoulders of Michael Sim.
Is anyone capable of carrying Australian golf post-Tigerfest?
What do they need to do?
Start by beating Tiger Woods in a playoff at Kingston Heath next week. Better still win by four or five shots. Be self-depreciating in your winning speech and thank only human beings. This won’t be enough to be fully welcomed as our newest sporting hero and you may need to go on to win the Australian Open or the Australian PGA just to make sure we all noticed. There have been enough gold medal Olympians to know beating the best once doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for sporting folklore, Steven Bradbury aside.
We’re a fickle mob. A few PGA Tour wins early next year will be needed to help your status but you’re probably going to have to say something controversial (not necessarily wrong) to stir the pot and create more headlines. Say something about American golfers not travelling much these days. Maybe say something about how a younger golfer is too big for his boots and maybe go out with a model or something. Perhaps see what Kate Hudson is up to these days.
There have been a few Australian golfers that have fulfilled some of these criteria already but there is one more thing that will need to be accomplished. I think you know where I’m going with this. You will need to win the US Masters.
It is easier for an Australian to say no to a game of backyard cricket than it is to win the US Masters. In a recent interview Jack Newton, who almost pipped Seve Ballesteros for the green jacket in 1980 thinks the short game of the Australian golfers is not good enough. So get to work. Hit the putting and chipping green soon after you’ve phoned Kate. And don’t even think about leading after three rounds and throwing it all away.
Golf may then rise to new levels in Australia and you will be our new golfing hero until we deem fit to rip into something about your demeanour that has been annoying us for a while. Michael Sim looks the pick of the bunch but we have seen young Aussies rise and fall before. Golf will always be a welcome, accessible pastime in Australia but without a new golfing hero I can’t see it becoming anything more once Tiger leaves our shores. Maybe we should preserve The Shark’s DNA. Let’s make a deal, if we don’t have a golfing hero in five years we clone him. With enhanced final round nerves of course.