Appearance money not limited to overseas

By Doug FergusonApril 27, 2011, 3:03 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ernie Els certainly isn’t the first person to chase appearance money overseas, a practice that has been going on before he was born. He’s just given it the best definition.

It was toward the end of the 2007 season when Els had signed a three-year deal to play the Singapore Open, which kept him from a shot at the Order of Merit because Europe moved its season-ending Volvo Masters to the same date.

“How can I say it?” Els said. “The end of the year, you’ve got the wheelbarrow out, too. You want to cash in a little bit.”

Tiger Woods has the biggest wheelbarrow of all, pulling in $3 million from Australia, Japan and Dubai in recent years.

Lee Westwood rose to No. 1 last week by winning the Indonesian Masters, and he wasn’t there strictly for the scenery. Westwood, Els, Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson are among those playing in South Korea this week.

There are no such wheelbarrows in America. It’s not called appearance money, anyway.

But it is naive to think that some players are not being compensated for playing in certain PGA Tour events, mostly through permissible and clever ways for a tournament sponsor to enhance its event.

“America is doing what we’ve done for 20 years, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” said Chubby Chandler of British-based International Sports Management, whose list of clients includes Els, Westwood, Rory McIlroy and two of the last three major champions in Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

“Tournaments have to get players to commit early,” Chandler said. “You can’t sell tournaments on the hope a bunch of guys might enter on Friday night. It’s just a way of getting players there. And they have to do something for it.”

The Zurich Classic this week in New Orleans has one of its strongest fields in five years, helped by a series of “ambassadors” who have a relationship with the global insurance provider and are taking part in a charity campaign that goes beyond the tournament. Ben Crane and Justin Rose wear the Zurich logo. The others who are involved in the yearlong campaign are Camilo Villegas, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Rickie Fowler.

Of those four, only McDowell has played New Orleans previously, and that was five years ago.

It’s a smart way to do business, because tournaments compete with each other as fiercely as players do on the course. It’s one thing to sign up as a title sponsor, even more beneficial for a company to pay a little more to align itself with quality players.

“Once you got corporate America involved … look at any sport,” Curtis Strange said. “It’s important to have a good field for your sponsors. It’s important to promote your event for TV, which promotes your product.”

The appearance of pay-for-play used to follow Woods because of his endorsement contracts with title sponsors. He had Buick on his bag for a decade and never missed the Buick Invitational. He played the Buick Open nine times and the Buick Classic three times. He also had deals with Accenture (Match Play) and American Express (World Golf Championship).

Woods once said it was never in his contract to play a Buick event. Maybe not, but it sure made good business sense. Odds are he would have been back to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am had that endorsement deal not gone away.

The Royal Bank of Canada has made a big push into golf in recent years, not only as title sponsor of the Canadian Open but through endorsements with Anthony Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Els. All of them can expect to be in Canada the week after the British Open.

“It’s pretty obvious when you see a player wearing the logo of a company that is title sponsor of an event,” said Steve Timms, tournament director of Shell’s Houston Open. “If it’s a jump ball, he’s going to play. How could you try to prohibit that? That flies in the face of keeping a player from seeking endorsement money.”

Phil Mickelson is a regular at the Scottish Open and Singapore Open, both sponsored by Barclays, the name he wears on his shirt. Most agents point to Davis Love III always going to Hartford when the tournament – and Love – were sponsored by Canon.

But it goes beyond endorsements.

The PGA Tour had to tighten its regulations in 2004 when Ford, the title sponsor of Doral, paid up to $600,000 for four elite players to take part in a pro-am with Ford dealers. Adding to the embarrassment was Golf World magazine obtaining a letter from IMG that offered a menu of players – and how much they cost – in exchange for those players looking favorably upon playing the tournament.

There was some concern at PGA Tour headquarters a few years later when more tournaments began paying for certain players to show up at a cocktail party or dinner during the tournament.

One agent, speaking on condition of anonymity so players or tournaments couldn’t be implicated, said one of his clients recently was paid to appear at one tournament, provided he attend a dinner party the sponsor held at another PGA Tour event four months later.

By any definition, that’s appearance money.

Appearance money in Asia and other countries is not a matter of showing up and having six figures deposited in the bank. As one player said of his experience, “It’s more than a cocktail party. It’s dinner and a cocktail party, a tent visit, shaking hands with the right people. You’re there to enhance the tournament. It’s a full week commitment.”

Poulter sent out a tweet of himself going to a sponsor dinner in South Korea. Woods was at a gala dinner in Melbourne last November, and the year before, at the Australian Masters, where he met with a group of sponsors after his second round.

That’s not much different from what happens in America.

No one talks about it publicly because it’s virtually impossible to trace. A player could always say he planned to play a certain tournament, anyway – and isn’t that what the PGA Tour wants?

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.