The Consequences of Tiger - and an Easy Solution
Tiger Woods, of course, was the last person responsible. The figure filberts at IMG try to figure out how much the particular market will bear. If theyre correct, a deal is struck. Tiger boards the jet and plays for a week. He comes back to Florida, and all concerned are satisfied.
Thats the way it is with the sheiks of Dubai. Germans cough and then pony up. So do the Thais and Indonesians. The Chinese do it and the Argentineans and the French. Its only when the good burghers of New Zealand are involved that IMG has problems.
They were expecting perhaps 100,000 to show up at the New Zealand Open last week. They knew they had to have at least 70,000 to just break even, what with the approximately $2 million they had paid for the privilege of having Tiger. They were shocked when less than 40,000 showed up for five days to watch Woods squeak by the cut, then eventually finish tied for sixth. Can you say bath with a Kiwi accent?
Its hardly Tigers fault, which is the pity. Hes merely a tool, albeit a very wealthy one. The businessmen at IMG were trying to get the most they could for his appearance ' say, 15 percent of $2 million, approximately $300,000? The New Zealand businessmen, raising ticket prices from approximately $22 for the week to $198 a week this year, were dreaming of the huge profits they expected to make.
And Tiger ' well, he dutifully boarded his jet and showed up. He played at the course of his trusty caddie, Steve Williams. He went through the greeting ceremonies and rubbed noses with 40 or so local dignitaries. He ate a lot of cheeseburgers and jogged with Steve on a local road. And then he left the same way he had came.
In the meantime, some very big toes were stepped on. Greg Turners, for instance.
Turner was one of the pros who was caught up in the unusual traffic pattern to allow for Woods entourage. It probably would never have happened had not someone sent cyanide to the police shortly before Tigers arrival. The upshot was that Turner arrived for his 8:45 tee time Thursday and was suddenly, abruptly, vectored down a lane toward the back of the course, from where he had to tote his bag a long distance back to the clubhouse. He was livid.
It has been all about one player with no thought given for the 143 others in the field, Turner, himself a New Zealander, raged. It is more like an exhibition match than a national championship.
Its not the only thing, there has been a catalog of little things like that. Its like a handicap event where he started off with an advantage over the rest of the field.
Craig Perks, another New Zealand pro, agreed. I think all the emphasis was put on Tiger Woods and they forgot about everyone else, which is a shame, he said.
Other golfers, however, understood perfectly. When youve won green jackets, claret jugs, PGAs and (U.S.) Opens, you can do anything you want, said Australian Wayne Riley.
And New Zealands Michael Campbell, who missed a putt on the 72nd green that would have forced a playoff with eventual winner Craig Parry, knew exactly what to expect when he signed up for the tournament.
Ive had no problems at all, he said. The security is needed, in that this is the worlds most recognized athlete and those guys are doing a great job.
Campbell, incidentally, made a particularly heart-warming gesture when he donated his entire runner-up check to charity. One portion was to a group which provides accommodations for families of sick children staying in hospitals, the rest to Wellingtons junior golfers.
The total of the check, however, was only about $35,000 for second place. Woods made just over $15,000 for finishing in a tie for sixth. He would have won $150,000 or so for finishing tied for sixth at the PGA Tour event in Hawaii, but then there wouldnt have been the $2 million appearance fee, would there?
The dozen investors that put up between $100,000 and $500,000 each to bring the circus act to Wellington were sadly disillusioned. They didnt happen upon a kings ransom, unfortunately. But IMG got theirs. Tiger got his. And New Zealand came away with a black eye, thanks to the sheets of rain, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the cyanide caper, and perhaps the ticket prices themselves.
Dont blame Tiger himself, though, for this fiasco. Blame IMG for the bloated appearance fee. Blame the greedy businessmen of New Zealand. And if they didnt like the appearance by Woods, the other golfers should heed a very important principal the next time Tiger shows up.
That is, simply ' dont come.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.