A New Big Three? Oh, Come On
Today, I read the greatest piece of wishful thinking I could imagine when it comes to the game of golf. Someone was actually spending his or her valuable time trying to gather together a team of three PGA players who call to mind the Palmer-Nicklaus-Player charisma of the past generation.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – of course, Tiger was number one of this new trio, with other names being sorted and tossed around to see which ones fit. Tiger, Furyk, and To Be Announced. Tiger, Mickelson, and another To Be Announced – and how about this one? Tiger, To Be Announced, and Vijay Singh!
This is the ultimate art of making something out of nothing. Tiger is, or at least was, a talent among talents, but if he is supposed to fill the Nicklaus role, or any of the three great ones, for that matter, it must be said that Jack Nicklaus never, ever had such a winning drought, especially in the majors category, that this generation’s greatest player is having.
As for the second and third spots, there’s one big problem with anyone we might pick. Whether you’re filling the Palmer or Player spot, you’ve got to choose someone who is always, or almost always, present atop the leaderboard. These three guys were always there, almost without exception. Missing a cut happened at the same frequency as appearances by Haley’s Comet, and many times, when they lost, it was to each other.
Interesting as I have always found Vijay Singh, if he’s going to be part of a new big three, he’d better get going. If I remember correctly, Palmer and Player made their winning presence known from the early years. They got right to it. Vijay is a little long in the tooth, perhaps, to serve as a young golf hero. Besides, if age isn’t going to be a factor, we might as well choose Tom Watson – face it, the guy is incredible in any era.
Jim Furyk? One of the greatest golfers to ever play on the tour with an advanced case of “second place” disease. Does that sound like “big three” material? How about Sergio Garcia? Are you going to get that “Avengers” visual as these guys walk over the hill to the green, the one we got in the 60s? What about Bubba Watson, the one that can’t name any members of the Beatles? The on and off temperament that screams of dignity every time we see him?
Mickelson is left-handed, and I suppose that’s all right. One of our peripheral heroes on tour in days gone by was a lefty from New Zealand, Bob Charles, and he won here and there. In lieu of consistently winning golf, shall we opt for personality – John Daly, perhaps?
Rory has the makings of a “big three” member, if the wheels stay on his game. He’s a sensitive guy, and his golf is easily affected. I’m not sure that in the years Gary Player won his majors, he would have noticed the end of the world until that last putt was in.
Sorry, folks – until another great coming together by the forces of nature brings us the right three players to repeat the mid to late twentieth century’s championship persona, it won’t do us any good to start thinking in threes. At the best of times, we have a great deal of parity, an at the worst of times, no one of much interest is winning much of anything, or creating any buzz, even those who should be. There is no every-week player to command our attention, only a broken one, and a bunch of once-in-a-whiles. The last great “big three” candidate that springs to my mind is Seve Ballesteros.
If we’re going to insist on this silliness, our best chance is probably to scan the LPGA – Wie, Lewis, Petterson? Thompson, Webb, Korda – Tseng, Park, Feng? At least on that tour, there are some candidates to put on the board when we arrange the pieces. As for the PGA, just enjoy Sundays for a while, and forget about the Big Three.