Taking or Leaving Tiger

After attending The Masters in Augusta and the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club, and watching The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, I would say that Tiger Woods needs the PGA Tour much more than the other way around.  Tiger missed the cut here in Charlotte, and followed that by finishing tied for 39th last weekend.  He tied for 40th at The Masters.  Yet, golf survived and in fact, it thrived.

The likable Bubba Watson, fresh off adopting a baby son and playing his unique version of "grip & rip it" type golf has reached cult hero status after winning at Augusta.  Orange-clad Ricky Fowler won here in Charlotte and appeals to some of the Mountain Dew generation.  And while his flat-brimmed PUMA hat may set you off, he adds another personality to the tour to either love or hate (btw, my friend Brendan at Edwin Watts Golf says they sold out of those PUMA hats the day after Wells Fargo).  His fellow 23-year-old Rory McIlroy lost in the playoff here and has already established himself among the elite beginning with his win at Quail Hollow two years ago.  Matt Kuchar won The Players and adds more Georgia flavor for those rooting for yet another developing star.

Charlotte's Webb Simpson is not only popular here, but nearly won the Fed Ex Cup Points last season.  Throw in some longtime favorites like Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, the occassional Fred Couples & Ernie Els sightings and golf still has plenty for galleries to follow. 

No question, Tiger adds drama and intrigue when he is in the hunt.  And don't forget he has a win under his belt this season with the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  But more often than not, the real drama is whether or not he will survive Friday's cut.  Tiger will win again, and probably even another major or two in my opinion.  The point though is that pro golf will be just fine either way.

As you can see, I got to catch up for a few minutes with former Panthers coach John Fox at the pro-am at Quail Hollow.  As you can also see, he gets plenty of free gear from the Denver Broncos.  It will be interesting to see how the Broncos do with Peyton Manning leading the offense and Fox not having to massage what he can out of the departed Tim Tebow.

I have lived in North Carolina for 25 years, but had not had a chance to play golf in Pinehurst until last week.  The Panthers held a tournament at Pinehurst Number-2 and it was every bit as challenging as you might expect.  I am still dumping sand out of my golf shoes.  The US Open will be there in 2014 with the men's and women's championships in back-to-back weeks.

One more golf note...the Dell Curry Celebrity Invitational is coming up June 18 at River Run. I will be playing and emcee for the awards ceremony again.  The event benefits the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, assisting the community in health, education and human services.  More info here...AdaJenkins.org.

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