Economy hurting players sponsors


PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Some golfers are losing that NASCAR look on their apparel with fewer sponsorship deals. Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh are among those with no visible logo on their shirts.

Chalk that up to the economy. Without question, players are getting paid less even when they do have endorsement deals.

Chubby Chandler, head of London-based International Sports Management with players such as Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in his stable, has discovered that during recent negotiations. What looks like a substandard offer turns out to be more than fair.

“If you get 50 percent of what you had two years ago, you’re doing pretty good,” Chandler said during the CA Championship.

That makes the PGA Tour’s next TV negotiation even more interesting, especially with key industry officials suggesting that the golf market has shrunk by at least 30 percent.

“We’ve all had to realign our expectations,” Chandler said.

WGC ADDITION?: The PGA Tour proudly points to Shanghai as an example that not all of the World Golf Championships are staged in America. That would be easier to accept if the tour actually counted the HSBC Champions as an official event.

Phil Mickelson received $1.2 million and 66 points toward the world ranking, although he was mildly annoyed that this WGC event didn’t count toward his PGA Tour victory total.

The status of the HSBC Champions as an official PGA Tour event could be changing.

“I do think it’s something we should look at it, and we are looking at it,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “I can argue that it’s not a big deal, and I think that’s probably the case. But still, it does raise the questions, ‘Shouldn’t there be a consistent approach to the WGCs?’ We are in the process of taking another look at that.”

Finchem said the International Federation of PGA Tours, which oversees the WGCs, is meeting during the British Open. He said the PGA Tour policy board would have to approve Shanghai as an official event, as would the other tours.

“It might not be resolved until the July board meeting, if there’s going to be a change,” Finchem said. “It’s under discussion now. To get it finalized would be the middle of the summer.”

One option could be to count it as official PGA Tour victory provided the winner is a PGA Tour member.
Among the more popular golf tournaments in Florida – one without much notoriety – is the Pro-Member at Seminole, the renowned course where Ben Hogan and others used to prepare for the Masters. Bubba Watson won in his debut this year with a 63, noting on Twitter that his team shot 61.

Another such event is in the works with just as much cache – the Pine Valley Pro-Member.

Pine Valley, perennially atop most lists of greatest American courses, plans to stage its first Pro-Member on July 28. The date makes sense because it’s the Monday of the AT&T National at Aronomink, a short drive away in the Philadelphia area.

But that’s bad news for Brad Faxon, a Pine Valley member who won’t be playing this year. It’s the same day as the CVS Charity Classic, which he hosts with Billy Andrade. The event has raised more than $4 million for New England charities.

Faxon said the Pine Valley Pro-Member won’t have any bearing on which players he can attract to this tournament because the CVS Charity Classic already has 12 of the 20 players, and he is in the market for three LPGA players.

Besides, Faxon said such Pro-Members are not always about tour players. Some of them are PGA professionals, and he said the Philadelphia section is among the best in the country. Chubby Chandler, the agent for Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, played as a pro at Seminole last week (he played the European Tour long ago).

“I just wish it wasn’t the same day because I want to play,” Faxon said. “It’s a wicked cool thing.”

Faxon said he hasn’t been a member long enough, nor has he had the time, to arrange for several PGA Tour players to come to Pine Valley for no other reason than he’s curious how they would play.

Faxon said his best score is a 67 from the member tees, although on a soft day with easy pins, he suspects a 63 or 64 is out there.

“Ben Crenshaw once said it was made more for match play than stroke play,” Faxon said. “Pine Valley is hard.”

Some pros might get a chance to find out for themselves.
Imagine the surprise of Adam Scott to learn about Sam Snead winning back-to-back at Pebble Beach – not that Snead wasn’t a capable golfer, but that the first victory was only 18 holes.

Scott does not get credit for his victory at Riviera in 2005 because rain shortened the tournament to 36 holes over five days. He won in a playoff over Chad Campbell.

The PGA Tour in 1998 stopped counting as official any victory that was not at least 54 holes. The policy board determined that 36 holes was not enough to clearly identify the best player that week.

Neal Lancaster still gets credit for winning the Byron Nelson in 1994 and Michael Bradley won the old Buick Challenge in 1996, both contested over 36 holes, both ending in a playoff.

“It’s kind of funny,” Scott said. “Maybe if I were to win a few majors before the end of my career, they’ll count L.A.”

Probably not. The Tour traditionally does not add or remove victories retroactively, except for the British Open.
The PGA Tour now has 12 winners in 12 tournaments this year, the longest stretch without a multiple winner since 2004 when Phil Mickelson picked up his second victory in the 15th event. … European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is among who received exemptions to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. … Despite winning a PGA Tour event last week (Puerto Rico), Derek Lamely is still third in the FedEx Cup standings among rookies, behind Rickie Fowler and Alex Prugh.
Robert Allenby last week at Doral made an eagle on a par 3, a par 4 and a par 5.
“Tiger was thinking about the Grand Slam when he was a kid. Angel was thinking about food.” – Charlie Epps, swing coach for Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who grew up in poverty.