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.