Tiger, McIlroy and Lydia Ko fuel interest for 2015
It never hurts in golf's quest for relevance during football season for Tiger Woods to make headlines, as he did twice last week. He clearly has no intention to go away quietly.
The rest of the golf news on what was tantamount to the final week of the season (notwithstanding quirky schedules here and abroad and the unavoidable silly-season) won't similarly command attention, but it was a memorable sendoff for a sport that has much to recommend it going forward.
Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy (Getty Images photo)
Where do we start? As usual, with this: WWTD? What will Tiger do in 2015, now that he's apparently healthy and has been breaking in a new instructor, Chris Como?
He'll provide only a snapshot at best at his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge next month; not much can be gleaned from it given the tiny field (18 players) and what for most of his career was his home course, Isleworth Golf and Country Club, in Windermere, Fla.
Still, he'll draw scrutiny. Woods remains the most intriguing figure in the game, to wit the attention he garnered simply for an innocuous Tweet on Saturday announcing he had hired Como. Interest in this heretofore relatively unknown instructor shut down Como's website in the immediate aftermath of Woods' announcement.
Interest in Woods will be piqued further by what might be another two-month hiatus he'll take after the World Challenge and before his likely return at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February.
The European Tour, meanwhile, concluded its 2014 season in style, crowning World No. 1 Rory McIlroy the winner of the Race to Dubai and No. 2 Henrik Stenson the winner of the DP World Tour Championship.
Nos. 3 and 4 also have exhibited form that along with McIlroy's bid to complete the career grand slam at the Masters promises a fascinating year ahead. Adam Scott finished second in the Australian Masters on Sunday and Bubba Watson won the WGC-HSBC Champions earlier this month.
But the best reason to look ahead surfacing on Sunday was the performance of Lydia Ko, still five months shy of her 18th birthday. Ko's encore in the wake of her having been awarded the Rolex Rookie of the Year was a $1.5 million payday -- $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe and $500,000 for winning the CME Group Tour Championship. All told, she earned in excess of $3 million this year, providing a clear picture of what she's going to be when she grows up: Wealthy.
Arguments abound that golf's off-season is too short, but on this day, on this week and in this month and what it portends, one could argue that it is too long.