The Content of Golfs Character
Some of those comments touched on racial differences between Palmer and Woods ' not just the obvious difference between Palmer, the Caucasian, and Woods, whose ancestry includes both African-Americans and Asians, but also the differing attitudes about race in the times when each man was at the height of his popularity. Heres an example of the kind of e-mail I received on this issue:
How many golfers of color were there on tour [in 1964]; and how many were allowed to play? A kinder gentler time indeed. Tiger made golf fashionable for the younger players, and more reachable for some of us.
I had never intended to cast the comparison between Palmer and Woods in terms of race. Its commendable in the e-mail correspondents on this issue that they approached what they saw as a flaw in my point of view with extreme respect and politeness, yet with unflagging strength of their convictions. (One writer offered his view, as he put it, in the hope that your minds eye would be broadened. Anyone can stand that sort of correction.)
The responses, juxtaposed as they were with the utterly indefensible remarks Jan Stephenson made last week, got me thinking about racism in golf, and how the noble mixes with the ugly.
Answering a question about problems the LPGA faces in an interview in Golf magazine, Stephenson said, among other things, that the Asians are killing our tour. Absolutely killing it. Their lack of emotion, their refusal to speak English when they can speak English. They rarely speak. We have two-day pro-ams where people are paying a lot of money to play with us, and they say hello and goodbye. Our tour is predominantly international and the majority of them are Asian. Theyve taken it over.
Fact-checking problems abound here ' I know for a fact that many of the Asian players Stephenson derides speak no more English than I do Korean ' and Annika Sorenstam might have something to say about Asian dominance, unless Sweden moved to Asia in the dead of night. And I defy anyone to travel to a country where they dont speak the language, try to make a living at a difficult sport, and see how sociable they feel.
More problematic, though, is the willingness of a public figure in golf to ascribe what she sees as poor behavior to race and nationality, rather than personality.
If the women Stephenson complains about indeed stiff their pro-am partners, its not because the pro hostesses are Asian. One notable Australian player is famous for her rudeness to reporters and her aloofness in general; clearly shes not Asian. This principle is so obvious that it shouldnt require mention. Its painful that someone who has made a life in the best of games, a game where equality, merit and honor have historically been at the forefront, should need to be told this.
Stephensons spin following the interview didnt help. Of course she said she didnt mean to deride Asians as a racial group. And she may not have. But lunkheaded insults hurt no less than purposeful hate. That is, you dont have to be a career intentional bigot to reveal by careless speech and actions your insensitivity to people who arent like you.
Even more disturbing are the subtle cues within the world of golf that vestiges of discrimination remain. Heres part of another e-mail, in which the writer maintained that Palmer didnt face the societal challenges Woods deals with. After making that point, the writer included a personal note:
I'm someone of an African American background, and for the past three years I've been attending golf matches like the Buick Classic, Greater Hartford Open, the U.S. Open & the PGA Championship. And I tell you, women still clutch their bags a little tighter when I get near them, people shift their belongings to a safer position, or stare at me like I'm doing something wrong. Mr. Barr, I'm as clean-cut as the next guy ' no, let me rephrase that ' I would even go as far as to say that I'm even more clean-cut looking then the next guy. I wear dress slacks, shoes, glasses with a button-down shirt, I speak in a natural soft tone. I even have a big bright smile and people still look at me in fear or like I'm beneath them. So I could only imagine how rough/challenging it was for [Tiger], coming up through the golf ranks. Feeling out of place, because people don't want you there.
And indeed, Woods and his father have told stories of bad behavior toward them on some golf courses in southern California when Tiger was growing up.
You can say as much as you want that the shoddy behavior of fans at tournaments the e-mail writer attended really has nothing to do with golf: They would do the same thing on the subway, at a caf, at a ball game, right? Well, yes. But the fundamental truth is, whatever the reason for this behaviors proximity to golf, it is unworthy of the games nobility. Inside or outside the ropes, one of golfs primary attractions is that it is a meritocracy. Get the ball into the hole in the least strokes, and you win. Thats all. Nowadays, color, national origin, gender ' none of that should matter. I say nowadays because, sadly, it once did matter, and the fact that it did kept huge talents such as Charlie Sifford, the late Althea Gibson and many others from earning their due.
Within reason and without hypersensitivity (and none of my e-mail correspondents on this issue were oversensitive), its time for a zero-tolerance policy on racism, ethnocentrism and sexism in golf. Its the only way to convince the next generation that inclusion is the only way to go.
Golf ' and everyone who loves it ' deserves that.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.