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World Golf Championship events weaken other tournaments
By BOB HARIG
Published October 3, 2006
The World Golf Championship events have been great for Tiger Woods, who has won more than half of the individual WGC tournaments he has played after his victory on Sunday at the American Express Championship near London.
The WGCs have been great for the 60 or so players who qualify for the no-cut tournaments that offer a guaranteed payday.
They have been great for fans who attend and watch on television, because the WGCs are all but guaranteed to bring together the best players in the world, something that rarely happens outside of major championships.
And they certainly have been great for the PGA Tour, which has a management arm under its corporate umbrella called Championship Management which runs - and profits from - these tournaments.
But are these big-money tournaments good for the rest of golf?
The answer, after seven years, is probably not.
Why? Because too many rank-and-file tournaments - the backbone of the tour - suffer from their existence.
You will see it this week in Greensboro, which will lack star quality, as will be the case for the rest of the official season.
Next year, when the season is condensed because of the FedEx Cup schedule, the three individual WGC events will come at times that can only harm the fields around them. The Match Play, the best of the three events and the one most worth keeping, comes at the end of February. What follows is three regular PGA Tour events in Florida, including the Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook. Then just four weeks after the Match Play is the CA Championship, which replaces the American Express and will be at Doral.
But while WGC events attract all of the top players, the tournaments near them can only suffer.
A top 10 player who competes in the Match Play and the CA Championship will skip at least one and possibly two of those three tournaments between.
Then comes the final WGC event, the Bridgestone Invitational, late in the year. It is just two weeks after the British Open and the week before the PGA Championship. The Canadian Open, which is between the British and the Bridgestone, will suffer. So will the Greensboro tournament which follows the PGA.
And having those three big tournaments, in addition to the four majors, the Players Championship, the Mercedes Championship and the Tour Championship, plus the three playoff events leading up to the Tour Championship, does not leave much left on the schedule.
That's 13 events. Throw in the Memorial, the Buick Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, and a player such as Woods would be up to 16 - the total number he is expected to play this year. And that means there is little chance to see Woods in a neighborhood near you.
The World Golf events were also supposed to be played around the "world," but Sunday's conclusion in England will be the last international destination for some time. The three individual tournaments will all be anchored at U.S. venues for the next several years.
Good for the players? Absolutely.
Not so for the rest of golf.
TV talk: For the second straight week, a prominent tournament received mostly tape-delayed coverage in the United States. First it was the Ryder Cup, whose first two days were shown in their entirety, but five hours after events occurred in Ireland.
Then at the American Express Championship in England, ABC put the weekend rounds on tape after ESPN had live coverage on Thursday and Friday.
The Ryder Cup was the more grievous error, but both were wrong in the Internet age, when people can get real-time scoring and see that Woods had won the Amex before it even came on the air Sunday. It was especially bad at the Ryder Cup, where the Internet provided first-day live video and audio on the second day.
Tiger's World: Woods is not a member of the European Tour, so his name is not mentioned on the money list. But his earnings would be enough to lead the tour's Order of Merit. In fact, Woods has won more money than No. 1 Paul Casey and No. 2 David Howell combined. And they have played in 42 events to 10 for Woods. (It works out to about $6.65-million for Woods, $5.7-million for Casey and Howell combined.)
The European Tour counts the four major championships and three World Golf events on its money list, as does the PGA Tour. Woods also competed in an event in China, which was played last fall but kicked off the 2006 European season. He won in Dubai and also played in the World Match Play Championship.
So of the 10 European events that Woods has played, he won five: the Dubai Dessert Classic, British Open, PGA Championship, Bridgestone Invitational and American Express Championship.