Global growth has been the goal behind returning golf to the Olympics, but has a game historically behind the times arrived, for once, ahead of schedule?
On Sunday alone, an Argentinian, Fabian Gomez won the Sony Open in Hawaii in a playoff with Brandt Snedeker and a Costa Rican, Paul Chaplet, won the Latin American Amateur Championship to earn an invitation to the Masters.
In the week ahead, meanwhile, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, becomes the epicenter of golf, with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6 in the World Ranking, squaring off in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
As Tiger Woods so famously put it nearly 20 years ago, Hello, World.
Gomez is a journeyman who has hit his stride at 37. The victory was the second of his PGA Tour career and second in his last 14 starts. He won the FedEx St. Jude Classic last June.
He became only the fourth Argentinian to win multiple events on the PGA Tour, joining Robert de Vicenzo, Jose Coceres and Angel Cabrera.
Gomez won with a world-class performance on Sunday, shooting a final-round 62 that included seven birdies in a row on holes six through 12 and birdies on the final two holes to get to 20-under par.
Snedeker, playing a hole behind, had to get up and down for birdie from 60 feet to send it to a playoff. On the second playoff hole, the 18th at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Gomez had a two-putt birdie, and when Snedeker missed his own birdie putt from about eight feet above the hole, it was a win for the United Nations.
There was more, too. Also in the top 10 were a Korean, Si Woo Kim, who finished fourth; a Brit, Greg Owen, who tied for fifth, and a Canadian, Graham DeLaet, who tied for seventh.
Whatever golf’s room for global growth, it has a rather sturdy and substantial platform on which to build. It will be on display in the desert this week, but not the California desert and the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge. All eyes will be on Abu Dhabi. Times, indeed, have changed.