You’d think the world’s best golfers would revel in the opportunity to test their wits against the very best players from any given year in the Tour Championship at East Lake, especially when there’s a $US6.5 million purse on offer for the highest 30 money-earners of the season on the PGA tour.
So who do you think won this exalted tournament last year, where one victor stood above his peers in the best field money could buy?
Tiger? Nope. How about Ernie Els, the Big Easy? No. It’d have to be Vijay, then? Wrong again.
The fact that last year’s champion was none other than Bart Bryant, who earned a start in the tournament on the back of a solitary tour victory (his second-ever tournament win) in the Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield course in Dublin, Ohio, probably says volumes about how seriously the world’s best treat this season-ending junket.
And if Bart’s name on the trophy wasn’t enough to send alarm bells that the tournament is not held quite in the same regard by players as it is by the event organisers, news that Tiger Woods is staying away from this year’s tournament because he is “tired” will no doubt give them food for thought.
Tiger said on his official website that “playing weeks with an additional trip to Ireland for Ryder Cup practice was taxing both mentally and physically and I feel like I need another week away from competitive golf”. All understandable.
But, again, it raises the suggestion that this type of tournament is viewed by players as a potential grab-for-cash that has no real prestige on a calendar still dominated by the traditional Grand Slam events.
The same goes for tennis, where Roger Federer cited the same “mental and physical” exhaustion excuse on his website for his non-appearance at the annual €2 million Paris Masters indoor tournament, which started this week.
What’s that line about not getting out of bed for a million or two?
If the players don’t treat this type of tournament seriously, it’s hard for the fans to swallow the line that these events are the prestigious events their obscene prize pools and marketing hype suggest.
And by the way, last year’s Paris Masters champion was the Czech player Tomas Berdych (we haven’t heard of him either).