Two weeks into the golf season and the biggest stories are slow play and whether Sony Open winner Johnson Wagner’s mustache makes him look more like Freddie Mercury or Inspector Clouseau.
Pulsating stuff, eh?
Bereft of the game’s stars and mired in the shadows of the NFL playoffs, the ho-hum beginning to the 2012 campaign further exposes the two Hawaii tournaments as mere preamble; closer to a glorified spring training than the real thing.
The repackaged Humana Challenge — or, as the cynics call it, the Hope-less, now that Bob’s name is gone — will try this week to inject some life into the season, especially since former President Bill Clinton, the patron of the long-standing event in the Palm Springs area, talked Phil Mickelson into playing.
But golf won’t generate headlines in the US until the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, in the first week of February.
That’s when Tiger Woods will make his season debut on the PGA Tour, partnering with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the venerable event, teaming a professional and a high-profile amateur amid the backdrop of the world’s most aesthetic course.
That pairing in itself will have people watching.
Not just because Woods is a 14-time major champion in search of the road to both a 15th major and redemption. And not just because Romo’s a football star.
People will tune in because Woods and Romo are polarizing figures.
Because people have an opinion about them one way or the other; they either want them to succeed or bomb.
In other words, people are invested in them; they care what happens.
So here’s an idea that will really make Pebble Beach must-see TV.
Team up Mickelson with Tim Tebow.
Now I understand that Mickelson’s got to hand over his pound of flesh for the tens of millions he makes off the course each year — last year he teamed up at Pebble Beach with KPMG chairman Tim Flynn — but he needs to soft shoe that Tim for the other Tim who’s captured a nation’s imagination.
What a tag-team match that would make.
The only issue is that the two lefties are going to need strokes.
And lots of them.
According to official handicaps, Romo, who’s tried to qualify for the US Open and aspires to be a pro golfer when he retires from football, shot a 65 in a tournament round last year.
He is carrying a plus-2.2 handicap, making him probably the best such golfer in pro sports.
Tebow, on the other hand, is going to have to be as good a scrambler on the course as he is on the gridiron.
He swings a golf club like he throws a football: erratically.
This swing, taped at last year’s Honda Classic in Florida, isn’t going to inspire confidence. Note how an over-the-top move sends the ball shooting right.
According to handicap scores posted at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. — the home course of Tebow’s father, Bob — a “Timmy Tebow” has an official handicap of 21.7.
Now, bear in mind Tebow hasn’t posted any scores since 2008. But his last score was a 96, and he’s thrown up a 144 and a 137.
Yet Mickelson — whose caddie, Jim “Bones” MacKay, is a huge Florida Gators fan — played with Tebow at Timuquana CC in 2009 and reported that the quarterback shot “around 80.”
“I didn’t really keep score, but it was not bad,” Mickelson said at the time.
“He got off to a good start; he made a bunch of pars, made a few birdies throughout the round, and his bad shots were not that bad.
“He’s got a lot of club head speed, hits the ball pretty good.
“Not a bad player at all, and we had a good day.”
Though Mickelson may have betrayed a little something about Tebow’s swing when he talked about letting him use his driver.
“I let him hit my driver, and every time I use it now I remember that he used my driver because there’s a big mark on the top of it, so I have a memento of the day,” he said, smiling.
So, give Tebow his strokes and let’s get some pizazz into golf.