Quiz time: Can you identify the following people?
.....Time's up - you're never going to get it. These 10 guys are the current leaders in the season-long FedEx Cup competition. They are ranked according to how well they have placed in PGA tournaments so far this year - and as you can see, they're not exactly household names. All of which sums up the dreadful state of professional golf without a certain Tiger Woods in the picture. This morning's bizarre confessional didn't mention a date for his return to the tour, but considering that's he back to rehab tomorrow, it might not be for a while. The Masters is in early April, just a few weeks from now, so that would seem to be pushing it. Meantime, golf has become an even duller exercise than usual, with TV ratings in the hole and no one remotely capable of capturing even a touch of that Tiger mojo. If today's carnival down in Florida tells us anything, it's that professional golf without Tiger Woods becomes a second or even third-tier sport. NBC's Johnny Miller, one of few personalities in golf willing to actually express an opinion, said this on ESPN on Thursday:
Not knowing really puts a cloud over it. If [we knew] he was playing in three weeks, that would keep a little bit of a buzz going on. ... I mean [golf is] struggling -- there is no doubt about that. The economy is tough, Tiger being gone is sort of a one-two punch.
The tour has been struggling to find corporate sponsors for a couple of events this year (the San Diego tournament got a last-minute reprieve from Farmers Insurance) and a dozen or so are sponsor-less next year. That could mean lower purses, something that has definitely caught the eye of the players. This is not just about Tiger, of course. The economy happens to be in pretty lousy shape and sponsoring golf tournaments is not considered a marketing priority. But having a bunch of obscure names topping the leader board obviously won't help.