'Fifth major'? More like 'first minor'

Updated: March 28, 2006, 11:12 AM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Hey, Players Championship: If we're going to hang together for the next four days, there's something you should know. We like you. We really do. It's just that we don't like you, like you. You know, like that.

We can still be friends, though. Let's keep in touch, see each other once a year. (And yes, May works much better for us, too. We have nothing to do in May.) But we just don't feel that certain spark when we watch you.

Besides, our dance card is already pretty stacked, what with The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. The majors deserve our full attention. Toss in the annual Ryder and Presidents Cups and, well, there's only so much love we have to give.

We know what you're gonna say, and we'll stop you right there. You're not the "fifth major," as some like to claim. What does that even mean?

"Stature is something that we don't determine," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday. "Others determine."

Of course, that statement was preceded just seconds earlier by Finchem claiming, "Well, we already think it's No. 1," in addressing a query about where the tour's crown jewel ranks in golf's pecking order.

So maybe the correct answer is that everyone helps to determine stature. And the prevailing feeling -- from players, media, fans; everyone, seemingly, but the commish -- is that you fall short of our expectations for a major. You know, the fake sick call to the office on Thursday and Friday; the John Daly-sized Doritos bag within arm's reach of the couch; the blinds drawn to create a presence of total darkness inside, save for the green glow from the TV screen.

We'll watch you, but we won't let you dominate our lives for four days.

Noted philosopher Bill Parcells once famously said, "You are what you are." It wasn't meant as a critical analysis of your self-worth, but maybe that phrase will force you to take a good long look in the mirror. After all, there weren't Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The NCAA doesn't invite five teams to the Final Four. Nobody ever tried to sneak an extra head onto Mount Rushmore.

Pete Best contended he was the fifth Beatle, but we're pretty sure there are only four guys walking across Abbey Road on that album cover.

But hey, if you can't be the "fifth major," you can always be the "first minor," right? How about "King of the Other Ones"?

Anyway, at least things are looking up. We're not saying beauty is only grass deep, but when host course TPC-Sawgrass undergoes major renovations to help drainage problems after this week and you move back in next year's tour schedule, perhaps we'll see you in a different light.

"I think moving this tournament to May will help the quality of the tournament as far as how it's perceived, because right now, we look at it as maybe a great tournament to get ready for The Masters," Phil Mickelson said. "When it's on it's own, we're going to have our five biggest events spread out each month. I think that's terrific. We'll have The Masters in April, this tournament in May, U.S. Open in June, British in July and PGA in August.

"I love the way that those five months set up for our tour, because it puts more emphasis on the quality of this event."

See, there are some virtues. Bright sides. Silver linings. You annually host the best field in golf (49 of the world's top 50 were originally entered; Chris DiMarco has since withdrawn due to injury) and with the exception of a Craig Perks birdie barrage on the final holes four years ago, there's nary an undistinguished champion in your past.

So, keep doing what you're doing, Players Championship, and maybe our feelings will change someday. After all, those changes you're undergoing are pretty major.

Uh, so to speak.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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