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Yawning in Hawaii

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So the PGA Tour’s 2008 schedule kicks off today with a champions-only tournament that, well, doesn’t include all that many champions.

As Tim Rosaforte points out, there are plenty of big names missing from Kapalua:

With respect to Vijay Singh, the 2008 PGA Tour season begins today without the Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 8th-ranked players in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. That would be Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and the British Open champion, Padraig Harrington. Four of the biggest names in the game, all taking a hall pass, when the rooms are free, the gas tanks full and the pay opportunities pretty good: What is wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong is that certain players continue to be bigger than the game, and the PGA Tour won’t — or can’t — rein them in to even play the most prestigious events on the schedule outside of the majors.

[photopress:adam_scott__1.jpg,full,alignleft][photopress:harrington_1.jpg,full,alignleft] The players, apparently, feel the event starts too quickly into the new year, and I for one, agree with them:

But we wrote that last year and we may end up writing it again next year unless something gets fixed, or tweaked, to make this work. Even the guys who are not Tiger and Phil have a hard time with the quick turnaround.

“Personally, I think we start too early,” said Steve Stricker, the repeating Comeback Player of the Year. “I talked to [tournament director] Gary Planos this week, and he kind of feels the same way. It’s holiday time.”

Golf needs more downtime — as it is now, the season never seems to end, instead continuing like a Bob Dylan tour. The European Tour is even worse, especially considering its 2008 season started in 2007.

The situation is worse for someone like Canadian Mike Weir. I recently discussed his situation with his agents at IMG, trying to determine what he’d play in coming weeks. Given the fact he’s had success at the Bob Hope and at Riviera, it looks like Weir could play six of the first eight weeks, a very intensive early season schedule. Right at the moment, Weir’s posted schedule has him skipping Riviera, which is hard to imagine considering he’s won the event twice.

As for Stephen Ames, swing coach Sean Foley tells Lorne Rubenstein he’s in fine shape starting the year. He’s talking like a Jacksonian Democrat when predicting Ames’ year:

“I think Stephen is ready to really manifest his destiny this year as one of the best players in the world,” Foley predicted. “I have seen them all and he is as impressive as any.”

In an unbylined piece, the Toronto Star has a look ahead at 2008, including a little blurb on whether Phil Mickelson “can rebound” from a “season dimmed.” Of course that’s hysterical considering he took home $5.8 million and won three times. I’d love to have to rebound from that kind of year.

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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.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Is a Champion’s Only tournament relevant anymore? I could see a logic in the past where money was not as plentiful and an easy money grab for a limited field that had success in the previous year was attractive to the players…all the players. But with so much money won by so many players, it seems silly. Hence, this tournament belongs in the silly season.

  • Very good point Enthusiast. This tournament was always meant as a bit of a “reward” for the players who won the year before. But the best players don’t appreciate or need the rewards anymore so they bascially piss on Mercedes and the tour and say “I’m still in holiday mode”. (Some of them have been in holiday mode now for a number of months). Keep the tourney but open it up to the full tour and give a chance to the guys who might actually appreciate being pampered in Hawaii with all the perks that are extended to the families etc. Believe it or not, there are alot of guys who would enjoy going away to Hawaii in January to play golf, eat well, be spoiled and have their families treated really well. The problem isn’t with the Tour, the problem is with some of the guys on the Tour.

  • Why do you take things out of context. This is exactly what the Star had to say:

    “World No.2 Phil Mickelson is looking to rebound from a season dimmed by a mid-season wrist injury suffered while practising for the U.S. Open.

    The 37-year-old left-hander still won three PGA Tour events, but he is looking for a fourth career major. He has been a runner-up in the U.S. Open four times and this year gets to play the event at Torrey Pines, not far from his San Diego home.”

    The season was indeed dimmed by a wrist injury (true) and the Star article details the success he had in 2007. Why did you take what the Star said out of context and twist it?

  • Right, because since he won in September in the FedEx Cup there are still issues with the wrist he hurt at the U.S. Open in June. Now that makes lots of sense. So gents, what exactly is he rebounding from? Three wins and $5.8 million? Or not winning a major? Not everyone wins a major every year, but that doesn’t make a year a write off, as the piece in question suggests.

  • The Mercedes makes sense because the wives want to spend time in Hawaii (who wouldn’t) during the Winter. And coupled with guarantee money for the husbands, why not?

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