After “Moving Day,” or the Saturday leg of the Masters, we’ve got an interesting scenario. The final pairing is Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry at -11, while Chad Campbell sits at -9 after a late double bogey. Jim Furyk’s an intriguing comeback pick at -8. Then there’s Tiger, tied for 10th place, but seven shots back at -4. Sorry, but that means he’s out of contention.
So are people still going to watch the Masters on Sunday? The top of the leaderboard is bunched together, so it should be exciting. Then again, Tiger’s not going to win; he’s never come back from this much of a deficit, and he has looked miserable this weekend. Not happening. So this is golf’s health test: will people spend their Easter watching players like Angel Cabrera and Jim Furyk fight for a major?
The answer is probably “yes”, though we do have to wonder how legitimate the interest will be. We say so because of the fact that Tiger’s still in tenth place; that means that he probably tees off just 40 minutes before the leaders. That’s assuming, of course, that Tiger will be the last of the -4 group to tee off. We’re fairly confident the Masters brass will make sure that happens (*UPDATE*: Tiger tees off 50 minutes later, not 40, so that way they can put him with Phil Mickelson instead of Tim Clark. So there you go.).
The more harrowing scenario for everyone at Augusta would be if Tiger were still 7 shots off the pace, but in, say, 37th place. At that point, by the time coverage started, he’d be around the 10th hole, probably six under par, and hopelessly out of contention. People would be changing the channel after five minutes of coverage, which would be - to say the least - unfortunate.
With Tiger close, though, people can still watch most of his round and wait for that huge spree that isn’t actually going to happen. Once they actually get sucked into the overall drama of the tournament, it’ll be a lot harder to turn away from a three- or four-man race for the Green Jacket, even if it doesn’t involve the sport’s most prominent figure.
This kind of tournament will be good for golf. Nobody’s ever bigger than their sport, no matter how much the media loves Tiger, and it’ll be nice for viewers to see that yes, there are other people who play this game at a high level.