Dominance tough to attain on PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo...

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., May 5, 2012. (CHRIS KEANE/Reuters)

TIM McKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:15 PM ET

The golf landscape is changing so rapidly at the moment that one storyline swallows the next on a weekly basis.

Gone is the decade-long Tiger Woods dominance or Tiger vs. Phil Mickelson struggle; the unfulfilled promise of the young-stars angle of a few years ago; the European takeover of the past two years and its concurrent "what's wrong with the American game" bent.

Coming into this season the talk was about Woods being back, then after his win at Bay Hill more talk that he was back. Now after faltering in a couple of tournaments, the talk is that he's back to the drawing board.

Last month it was all about Bubba Watson's Masters win, and now the flavour of the week is the Rickie Fowler-Rory McIlroy rivalry that is being built up despite being in its infancy.

But parity currently is the name of the game in golf and despite the longing for great rivalries between two or three elite players as we've seen in the past, it's not a bad thing that golf has so many high-level guys who can win on any given Sunday.

They're young, they're older, they're from all over the globe, they're flashy, they're religious, they play their cards close to their vests with the media, they post intimate insights into their lives on Twitter and do silly music videos ...

This ain't your father's PGA Tour, that buttoned-down version gone the way of the Oldsmobile.

While the media has a tough time keeping up, the players are cognizant of it as well.

"As a fan growing up watching golf, I loved that Tiger was dominant and I loved that there might be Phil who would come and challenge him for a while, and then Ernie (Els) and then Vijay (Singh) and then (David) Duval," McIlroy said Tuesday in his news conference at the Players Championship. "I sort of liked that as a storyline. So it would be nice if a few people separated themselves from the rest. Hopefully I will be in that group at one stage."

World No. 2 (behind McIlroy) Luke Donald echoed the sentiment Wednesday after being asked what it would take for someone to stop the back-and-forth volleying of the No. 1 spot on the official world golf ranking.

"You've got to win a major or some multiple events," said Donald, who did the latter last season to rise to the top, "and the other guys have to not play that well."

But the optimism that one player will be able to pull away from the huge, talented pack, seems impossible at the moment.

"I just think it shows how good the guys are now," said McIlroy, who was right there in the playoff last week at the Wells Fargo Championship and couldn't get it done against Fowler. "It's the finest of margins -- that's what it takes to win out here."

Problem is, more players than ever now know what it takes.

TOO YOUNG FOR HALL

The question of Phil Mickelson's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame this week is not whether he deserves it -- clearly he does -- but why the eligible age for induction is 40.

Most players worth a damn these days, those worthy of Hall honours, are still playing on the PGA Tour at that age. Being lauded for their body of work before it's finished reeks of a death knell.

Ernie Els, who went into the Hall last year, said it felt awkward because he believed his career still had some life to it. Mickelson, while saying all the right things, hinted at similar feelings.

"I think that it's cool to look back on accomplishments, and I'll have an opportunity over the coming years to try to accomplish more," Mickelson said Monday, just days before teeing it up at the Players Championship, where he will have little time to reflect on his career because, well, he's trying to add to it.

Why not change the age of eligibility for the Hall of Fame to 50? That coincides with Champions Tour eligibility and the players may be able to appreciate the "this is your life" treatment when they're ready for their swan song.

HOLE LOTTA TROUBLE

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass certainly has divided opinion.

Tiger Woods said Tuesday he likes the hole, but not as a 17th hole.

"I think 17 is a great hole," Woods said. "But not the 17th. I think it's a perfect eighth hole or something like that.

But as a great finishing hole, I'm not of that opinion."

Others have debated the drama of having it as the 71st hole of a big tournament -- it is great for the fans but tests the nerves of the players.

Broadcaster and former player Jay Townsend said it well Wednesday on Golf Channel's Morning Drive: "It's golf's version of a free throw with no time on the clock, or a penalty shot in hockey."

Another sign of the era shift happening in the world of golf came Sunday (well before Fowler rolled in his playoff putt) in my own backyard. I overheard my two boys as they played with their junior sets, hacking up my freshly cut lawn:

"Tiger Woods on the tee," said eight-year-old, Andrew, as he addressed a ball.

Constantly mimicking his older brother, the almost-three-year-old Jack stepped up to his ball: "Bubba Watson at the Masters ..."

ON THE TEE

PGA Tour

The Players Championship

TPC Sawgrass, Players Stadium Course (7,215 yards, par 72), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

* Golf's "fifth major" features most of the top players (no Bubba Watson). Canadians include Brantford, Ont.'s David Hearn and Weyburn, Sask.'s Graham DeLaet, who is coming off a tie for fourth two weeks ago.

European Tour

Madeira Islands Open

Course: Santo da Serra Golf Club (6,825 yards, par 72), Porto Santo, Madeira Islands


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