Can Spieth-mania rocket golf back into the popularity of the Tiger years?

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The PGA needs young players like Jordan Spieth to keep winning if they want the sport to remain relevant moving forward.

Men and women who have years of golf experience under their belt may scoff at the thought. The longer you’ve been in the “circle” the more difficult it is to realize golf’s popularity has tapered in the past seven years.

After Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open in 2008 and quite literally dropped into oblivion following his scandal and injuries, things just kind of… stopped.

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Tiger was cool. He was witty, sarcastic even, sharp during interviews and as clutch as they come on the course. He is black, which alone inspired thousands of young African-American athletes to pick up some clubs and hit the range.

Tiger changed how the game was played and perceived at the turn of the century, a window of time where people not only wanted but expected new and brilliant things in all facets of life, golf included. The exposure he got propelled golf into the 21st century.

Now, Tiger is irrelevant. Someone needs to step up to the tee box and start a whole new revolution. Somebody interesting, somebody with flavor and somebody who can make golf look cool to an 11-year-old like Tiger did.

Is Spieth that guy? I’m not so sure. He seems more like an everyman, where Tiger came across as a superman. But his performance so far this year definitely has people perking their ears.

The 21-year-old Masters winner finished 5-under last weekend at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. It was a nail biter of a tournament, coming down to the Dustin Johnson’s eagle putt on No. 18 for the win. He missed, and then also missed his birdie putt for the tie. Spieth won by Johnson’s error of mere centimeters. As far as majors go, what more could you ask for?

That makes two major wins for Spieth in 2015. Now everybody can’t stop talking about the coveted “grand slam,” a trophy for each of the four majors. Spieth is the only player in the world right now who has a shot at doing that all in the same year, a feat unachievable by even the sport’s most legendary players. In less than a month we’ll see him at St. Andrews for the British Open, where the No. 1 player in the world, Rory McIlroy, will be defending his title from last year.

If Spieth wins that one, the sports world will break in half. This will be the tournament that puts golf back at the forefront of everybody’s minds, and Spieth will be the face of it all.