Golf -now more than ever -is an international game.
The latest evidence in favor of that statement was Sunday's finish at the Masters, where Adam Scott of Australia won in a playoff over Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
Another Australian, Jason Day, placed third, leaving Tiger Woods as the top American finisher with his fourth place tie with Marc Leishman, yet another from Down Under.
Of the top 10 finishers, only Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar were Americans.
What has happened? Golf no longer is an American sport. Rather, it has become popular virtually worldwide. So popular it soon will be contested at the Olympics.
Golf no longer belongs exclusively to the country club crowd. It's become a game for the masses. It's no longer just a white man's game.
It attracts members of all races. Just look at what has happened on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, where Orientals dominate the leaderboard virtually week in and week out.
Woods himself opened up the golf world to a new generation of players from across the globe. Who would have thought that a 14-year-old from China would share the headlines at the Masters with the world's greatest golfers?
Naturally when Woods didn't win, the talk quickly turned to whether he ever will tie or break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships. Woods has 14, but hasn't won since the 2008 U.S. Open. Yet, major championships are much harder to win today than they were when Nicklaus was playing. Why? Because the fields are so much deeper. Because there are so many potential champions playing each and every week. No longer is the PGA a tour where men are trying to make a living. Most of those playing -even those who seldom if ever win a tournament -are financially secure. Golf may be the same game, but it takes place in a much different world.
While it was disappointing not to see an American at the top of the leaderboard Sunday, this was a fantastic finish quite worthy of the world's greatest golf tournament. If it had been the Kentucky Derby, it would have been a photo finish. There were more twists and turns than could be found on any green at Augusta National.
It was a memorable final day to what was a fascinating four days. Day one saw Sergio Garcia shoot 66 along with Leishman, who had us wondering who he was and where he came from.
Day two brought controversy, with Woods getting a two-stroke penalty for a rules violation and the aforementioned 14-year-old, Tianlang Guan, being charged with an extra stroke for slow play. Moving day, as Saturdays on the PGA Tour are called, saw Scott, Cabrera and Snedeker put themselves in position to win, setting up Sunday's heroics.
The good news? We get to do it again next year.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org