Floyd Believes for Pro Golf Tour Needs New Superstar
Raymond Floyd, it might be said, is a star in search of a superstar.
He is looking for someone to lead the pack, a man who will appeal to the public with some incredible feats on the golf course.
What he believes golf desperately needs is another Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson, and he is troubled that he can’t sight anyone on the horizon.
Perhaps it was the cold, wet, gloomy afternoon at Oakland Hills, or the fact his left hand was wrapped in ice because of a flareup of tendinitis which has afflicted him for more than 20 years, but Floyd was in a reflective mood two days before the U.S. Open starts.
There has always been a natural progression of superstars in golf, with people like Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson.
Now, Floyd wonders, how long it will be before anyone else ascends to the throne.
It’s been 14 years since Watson turned professional, and Floyd is perturbed that golf hasn’t been able to find another superstar for an admiring public in all that time.
What’s worse, he doesn’t feel golf is helping itself with the institution of an all-exempt system.
“We need a young guy to come out here and exert himself and get the public turned on to the game,” Floyd said. “If you don’t think we weren’t pulling for Ben Crenshaw when he came up, or Hal Sutton a couple of years ago . . .
“We thought Sutton could do it, we’d be hoping he’d win. He broke my heart, although he can still come along. Whoever it is doesn’t have to look like Robert Redford, but we need someone to win a lot of majors and take the public by the horn.”
The chances of this happening were reduced considerably, Floyd believes, with the adoption of an all-exempt system in 1983. Under this format, the top 125 players on the earnings list each year receive a full year’s exemption.
Previously, only the top 60 gained exemption, and others, with certain exceptions, had to try to qualify on a Monday for the few available spots in that week’s tournament.
“Let me say that at the time I had no opinion on the new system, I was completely neutral,” Floyd said. “But now I say it is adverse. We provide too much of a free ride for some players, while there are some good players outside who can’t get in.