Commentary

World's best fly under the radar

Originally Published: March 10, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

DORAL, Fla. -- The top three players on the planet not only are here in the same tournament -- the WGC-Cadillac Championship -- but on Thursday (and again on Friday) were in the same threesome. This happens about as often as Charlie Sheen is named CBS Employee of the Month.

So excited were the galleries about the marquee pairing of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald that almost fives of people gathered around the seventh green as they approached the hole. You could have placed a sofa and ottoman there, and not bothered anybody.

I counted: There were 58 fans around the green. Fifty-eight. Joe's Stone Crab gets longer lines.

Meanwhile, the threesome of Graeme McDowell, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, ranked 4, 5 and 6 in the world, attracted almost all of the attention. Fans gathered around the tee box areas, lined most of the fairways and made their presence known at the greens. Compared to the sparse numbers following Kaymer & Co., this was a Fat Tuesday crowd in the French Quarter.

I mentioned this to Westwood in the locker room after darkness cut short Thursday's play. Said that I was a little surprised about the small size of the Kaymer, Westwood and Donald galleries.

[+] EnlargeMartin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe top 3 players in the world -- Lee Westwood (No. 2), Luke Donald (No. 3) and Martin Kaymer (No. 1) -- were grouped together in the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The pairing was a combined 14 under par through 10 holes Thursday.

"Really?" he said, smiling.

"You're not?" I said.

"Not here."

"But it's still 1, 2 and 3 in the world."

"And it's still from Germany, England and England."

"So I'm being naive about this?"

"Yes."

Whatever. No. 1 Kaymer, No. 2 Westwood and No. 3 Donald deserved better than the 58 people who saw them on the seventh hole. It was so quiet that the greenside marshals didn't even bother to raise their arms for silence when the threesome putted.

Kaymer and Donald are 5-under after 10 holes, tied for second and two strokes off the lead. Westwood is 4-under and tied for ninth.

"Well, I had a fantastic start with three birdies, and then I played very, very solid golf," Kaymer said.

Too bad hardly anyone saw it.

I get it: Tiger and Phil move the viewership needle. And McDowell is the defending U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup conqueror. But none of them played better than the world's Nos. 1-3.

Mickelson is at 2-under, and Woods and McDowell are at 1-under. Not bad. But also, not Kaymer or Donald good.

There are worse things than having Woods and Lefty suck all the attention out of the place. It allowed Kaymer, Westwood and Donald to go about their business without dealing with crowd distractions.

But it would have been nice for someone to realize how rare these pairings are. Sure, it happened in February at Dubai, but before that, we're talking the first two days of the 2008 U.S. Open.

Then again, I'm in the minority on this.

How do I know this?

"If I was out there," someone said, "I'd be out there watching Tiger."

The someone was named Westwood.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

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Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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