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Tiger Event Limits Field, But Not Dissent

The decision to have Tiger Woods host an event in Washington the long weekend in July was intriguing for several reasons. First of all, Tiger didn’t bother to show up in Colorado for the International, but suddenly he’s got free time on his schedule with the event benefiting his charity. Never say that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is a stupid man — he apparently knows the only way to guarantee Tiger in the field is to have Buick, Accenture or, well, Tiger Woods himself, promote the event. Oh and I hope the RCGA didn’t waste too much effort trying to get their tournament moved to early July — this one looks like it was a done deal well before it was announced.

Is it possible this was a peace gesture to Tiger to mute all the discussion about the possibility he might give up his tour card and was angry about the treatment of his end of the year event?

Nonetheless, the Washington event looks strong. It will be played at Congressional, if reports are correct, and has already landed AT&T as a sponsor. Woods is apparently even going to support the military through the event. Next thing you know he’s going to walk over one of Congressional’s water hazards in his Nike shoes.

But not everyone is thrilled for Woods. The concept of another invitational event, one that replaces a full field event, is not sitting well with players:

“I think it’s great that Tiger is involved and we’re going to Washington. We need that,” Beem said. “But we’re trying to get back more spots throughout the year and all of a sudden we have a limited-field tournament? It’s the most totally wrong thing I’ve heard of in a long time that’s sticking in to the players.”

Yes, sure it is just Rich Beem, but his comments have been echoed by plenty of others. However, one who voiced his support of Tiger was Phil Mickelson:

“All of the conflicting events cannot support themselves financially and all of the excess revenue from the tour goes to support those tournaments and most of that money is driven by Tiger,” Mickelson said. “So if you’re looking at 450 spots that Tiger is creating and if he wants to take 20 away because he wants to have a prestigious event, I think we should not, as players, be narrow-minded.” (source)

The decision to have Tiger Woods host an event in Washington the long weekend in July was intriguing for several reasons. First of all, Tiger didn’t bother to show up in Colorado for the International, but suddenly he’s got free time on his schedule with the event benefiting his charity. Never say that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is a stupid man — he apparently knows the only way to guarantee Tiger in the field is to have Buick, Accenture or, well, Tiger Woods himself, promote the event. Oh and I hope the RCGA didn’t waste too much effort trying to get their tournament moved to early July — this one looks like it was a done deal well before it was announced.

Is it possible this was a peace gesture to Tiger to mute all the discussion about the possibility he might give up his tour card and was angry about the treatment of his Target silly season event?

SI’s Gary Vansickle pointed out the optics are a bit fuzzy:

The big questions no one in Washington is asking now are: How long did the Tour have this event with Woods and his charity as a beneficiary in its hip pocket?

Vansickle notes that Tiger already gets appearances fees — in a way:

The smartest operators were Buick, which signed Woods to an endorsement deal, with Tiger subsequently making the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines and the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich., regular stops on his schedule while also also appearing at the Buick Classic at Westchester; and American Express, which guaranteed Tiger’s presence in its World Golf Championship events by inking an endorsement deal.

But this isn’t an issue for Phil, who uncharacteristically defended Tiger. And why should it? Phil, after all, has gotten plenty rich playing second fiddle to Tiger. Still, Phil wisely points out that Woods has helped all the players — even if they don’t recognize it — and it was time to give him his own event. Oh, that’s right — he also has that event in Boston. Oh, and that Target event. And now Washington. Okay, fine, it was time to give him his third event.

“If we look at the big picture, he does a heck of a lot more in this tournament … and it does an incredible amount for the tour and the game of golf,” Mickelson said. “I think we need to be careful on that.”

I say we just rename it the Tiger Tour and admit what is really happening here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Tiger has played several tourneys sponsored by competitors to his sponsors (Ford Doral, Nissan LA, Mercedes, BayHill Mastercard, Wachovia, EDS).

    Of course the haters should never let the facts get in the way of a good ‘ole bashing….

  • To say Tiger all of a sudden can free up his schedule and play in this event where he wouldn’t play in The Internationaln let’s not forget that The International was not scheduled in July before the reshuffling of the Tour schedule. This is sort of a mute point I think.

  • I actually don’t think how Rich Beem, who has won a major, is playing currently should be part of the debate. It is a specious point and doesn’t actually address the issue.

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