By Alex O’Connor
With the monster year that Rory McIlroy had in 2014, the golf world is starting to wonder if a new trend setter has emerged in the industry. McIlroy has won four major championships, including two in the past year and is only twenty-five years old. The phrase “future of golf” has been connected to his name as he has won two majors in the past year and had numerous other top-10 finishes in 2014. Recently, golf legend Colin Montgomerie exalted McIlroy while putting a struggling Tiger Woods down even further. In regards to McIlroy’s current playing, Montogmerie reported to Kicca.com that “Is he going to be able to get back, not just to the levels he was, but better than that? Because that’s where Rory McIlroy’s taken the standard of golf: to one level beyond where Tiger was.” In regards to the potential of McIlroy wining all four majors in a year, “That’s another question on people’s lips within our game. Can he win all four in a year, never mind two.” The level of dominance McIlroy has shown in the last year has been impressive, but a question needs to be risen if the high praise from Montgomerie is warranted in the right ways.
The UK Daily Mail took numerous excerpts from Montgomerie’s interview to shape their article about how McIlroy is on the rise, though editor Chris Cutmore did emphasize Woods’ impressive resume. Cutmore noted the fourteen majors that Woods has won as well as his longest-standing number one record for a large majority of his McIlroy’s career. Once Cutmore acknowledged Woods’ accomplishments, he emphasized Montgomerie’s comments while incorporating McIlroy’s impressive performance over the past few years. While Woods has recently had a change in swing coach and has been hampered by injuries for the past year, media presence has been relatively negative surrounding him. Woods has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and played competitively in a limited capacity in 2014. The new reports by The UK Daily Mail as well as on Kicca.com have supplemented the negative media attention around Woods.
In the current state of golf, there may be a changing of power in golf. Tiger Woods has been the face of the gold world for almost fifteen years, but his injuries may be limiting him. Currently, Rory McIlroy has been given the rank of Number one in the world and has no signs of slowing up. Colin Montogmerie’s comments are yet another knock to Tiger Woods and he will need to overcome his troubles in the media as well as on the golf course.
By Alex O’Connor
Last Sunday, the World Golf Championship concluded with a spectacular ending. Bubba Watson, winner of this year’s Masters, was down by two strokes going into the last hole. The hole was a Par 5 and Watson went for the green in two shots. He missed the green, went into the bunker and was forced to make his next shot. Watson did just that, and chipped in to force a sudden death playoff. On the first hole of the playoff versus Tim Clark, Watson sunk a 20-foot birdie putt to win the tournament. This tournament being a non-major, it had many golf analysts wondering how big of an impact a finish like this would have on the sport as well as where it rates among other great finishes from the year. Historically, the non-major tournaments receive significantly less media attention on the National and International stage. In addition, the Ryder and President’s Cups have the intense rivalry built up by American media between the U.S. and Europe. Now that we have seen a finish of this magnitude from a high-caliber player, this may be the turning point for large-scale media to give more attention to the non-major tournaments.
Ryan Lavner, writer for GolfChannel.com made the case that this tournament had the best finish to any tournament this year. Lavner created a off-hand check sheet of great viewing qualities of a gold tournament. He listed: jitters, clutch shooting and a sigh of relief at the end. All were answered with a yes. In addition, GolfChannel.com writer Will Gray pointed out the statistical nature that gave him the conclusion as the best finish of 2014. Five players had a shot to win the tournament on the last hole, and Watson was the most unlikely. Though the tournament was held in China, it was brought to national attention minutes after Watson sunk the last putt.
Due to Watson’s remarkable win, there may have been a turning point in the golf industry. The average sports fan who now turns on SportsCenter will see Watson’s victory and may remember the tournament he played in. If that person does, this will enhance the popularity of the game solely based on a players’ performance over the course of two holes. In addition, that fan may become a Watson fan after the performance and follow the sport to a larger degree. This past performance was not only good for Watson, but for the sport itself.
The use of social media in sports is a breeding ground for controversy. Once you hit “send” in social media, someone will screenshot it and record it, for there is no telling how big of an issue it may become. Social media is also dangerous because there are different ways in which potentially controversial statements are worded. In the last two days, Ted Bishop, former President of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America has been ousted because of social media. His comments were both controversial, and were taken in a negative light though he may have not meant it that way.
The issue at hand with Ted Bishop was a tweet that he sent out regarding Ian Poulter, an eccentric golfer from England. The tweet was in response to Poulter’s criticism of Ryder Cup Captains Tom Watson and Nick Faldo. The context of Poulter’s comments were that his Ryder Cup and major performances were superior of Faldo’s. Bishop responded through Twitter with “Yours v. His? Lil girl.” Basically, Bishop was belittling his comments and saying that his accusations were completely wrong. BBC Sport also pointed out there was a Facebook post written by Bishop saying: “Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!” Bishop is American, and Poulter has been known to show his emotions, especially in Ryder and Presidents Cups. This may have been a result of mounting tensions after the American Ryder Cup loss just a month ago. Ultimately, tensions spilled over for Bishop, and is something that cost him his job.
The Golf Channel had a similar take on the situation as BBC Sport, however they emphasized that Twitter was a large factor in the situation escalating. Bishop was not the first prominent golf executive to misuse social media and cause significant damage to their career. A prominent Australian golfer, Steve Elkington, also had issues with social media. Regarding a helicopter crash in Australia, he joked that “there was no beer spilled on board.” His comments were extremely insensitive. He is now synonymous with this tweet, and there will always be a black eye on his reputation. Finally, they also emphasized the views of Poulter and other prominent golfers. 2010 Cup Captain Corey Pavin told his players to be careful with twitter, as he did not want any additional distractions for the team. There are so many forces that may be tempting to tweet or post something on Facebook, but these instances have made it a nightmare for both the PGA and Ted Bishop.
By Alex O’Connor
The 2014 Ryder Cup was one to forget for the United States. The U.S. lost to the Europeans by a score of 16.5-11.5, which is a margin of five more matches won for the Europeans. The man who chose some of these players was Tom Watson. Watson is a legend in the golf industry, having won multiple major championships. However, Watson has only been a Ryder Cup captain once. Coming into the tournament, there was heavy media attention on how much of an underdog the U.S. team was. For example, on September 11th of this year, rydercup.com uploaded a segment giving Europe the overwhelming nod to win.
Once the tournament began, there were several pairing moves made by Watson that were heavily scrutinized. Recently, golfchannel.com reported that Watson changed his mind on the adding of Bill Haas to the roster instead of Webb Simpson. Through the media’s portrayal of the pairing selections and his last-minute roster decision, Watson had an overall unsuccessful tenure as the Ryder Cup coach this year.
The first subject of criticism that was highlighted in the media about Watson’s tenure was his roster placement during the tournament. The main two pairings that were under the most heat were Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. On Saturday, Spieth and Reed won their first match, while the latter had lost. Instead of putting Mickelson and Bradley out for their next match, Watson benched them in favor of the two Ryder Cup rookies. Reed and Spieth went on to halve the match. One of NBC Sports lead Golf anchors, Johnny Miller, was not fond of Watson’s original picks, and this decision only added to the negative impression of the U.S. team.
It has been reported that Bill Haas was originally supposed to be the final captain’s pick by Tom Watson. This was based on the word of some U.S. players. However, Webb Simpson sent a text the night before pleading his case to Watson, having already told his players that Haas was the last pick. The bottom line was that their was a clear lack of decisiveness in the situation and false hope among the players. However, the media only knew about Simpson’s text and not of Haas’ “confirmation” at the time. In the case of the media, one crucial fact was left out of this situation and was not properly addressed until yesterday.
This year’s Ryder Cup is one that should soon be forgotten by U.S. fans and players alike. However, this new development will keep a sour taste for a little bit longer. The media presence in this situation was simply not in the right place at the right time. Regardless of the timing, Tom Watson is being painted in a negative light and will ultimately have a difficult time renewing his captain’s seat for future Ryder and President’s Cups.