A Plea to Tiger Look Homeward


Well, Tiger Woods is about to wind up a stretch in which he plays six events in only five weeks time. And to think I was only lamenting a couple of weeks ago about how difficult it is for these pros to play six consecutive weeks ' as it appeared the guys might have to do under the new schedule of 2007.
Lets see, Tiger played the Tour Championship. Then he played a tournament in China and one in Japan. He played the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii and the Skins Game in the Palm Springs area. Next week, hes got his own event ' the Target World Challenge.
It doesnt sound as though playing four- , five- or six weeks in a row is terribly difficult. Tiger survived it, even though he has played with a bum ankle, with sore ribs and a virus.
On the one hand, I salute Tiger for teeing it up in other parts of the world. This time it was the Orient and the Western theater. Good for him! When you are a Tiger Woods, people need to see you all over the globe. And Tiger has appeared in virtually all locales. It is, I believe, a simple case of golfs No. 1 ambassador realizing who he is, and what an awesome responsibility he has to be seen all around the world.
Now, on the other hand, I dont quite understand what his remarks were a couple of months ago about the PGA Tour season being too long. If he needed the time to rest and recoup, that would make a whole lot of sense. But obviously he hasnt spent the off-season resting up.
OK, hes spent some time in the Far East, hes spent time in Australia and New Zealand, hes spent time in Europe. But - the people in Palm Springs would undoubtedly love to see him just once at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Memphis citizens would relish the chance to see him once at the FedEx. What wouldnt golf fans in Greensboro give to see him tee it up at their the Chrysler Classic?
Well, well probably never know. The chance of him appearing at those stops, among others, is virtually nil. Tiger doesnt change his schedule too much, regardless ' he isnt going to play at a course which he doesnt feel suits him. Hes not going to play the week before a major. And, outside of his first season when he accepted all sponsors invitations at the end of the year just trying to get his tour card, he doesnt play in Milwaukee, in San Antonio, or in the John Deere.
Wouldnt it be great if Tiger had the same attitude about these tournaments as he doe about an event in China, in Japan, in Germany or Dubai or Malaysia or Thailand?
Look, Tiger gets appearance money to play in these far-flung areas, granted. But I cant believe hes doing it just because of the money. If you made close to $90 million a year just in endorsements, $1- or $2 million appearance money isnt going to make that much difference. Im not going to spend the time on the math, but lets say hes conservatively made $500 million ' and Im sure it is much above that. Do you think one or two million more is going to have an impact? No. It takes much more than just money.
What does it take? Well, who knows exactly? Undoubtedly, his agents have a big hand in his playing decisions. He went to a tournament in New Zealand a few years ago because his caddy is from there. His mother is from the Orient, so he regularly makes a pilgrimage there. Deutsche Bank has a contract deal with him, so he often plays in Germany. And, to his everlasting credit, he takes his act on occasion to other places on the globe where nearly everyone who has an interest in golf gets to see him at least once.
Except in Palm Beach, Fla., or Houston or New Orleans. And - except for that abbreviated first season 10 years ago - in Milwaukee or Quad Cities..
Tiger says the PGA Tour season is too long. And he could be right. But whats he doing by playing this killer schedule the last month or so?
Right ' hes appearing in some places where his face provides a sorely needed punch to boost the game of golf. But at the same time, he HAS to think of some places close to home where Tiger hasnt been spotted in 10 years.
In case you're wondering, yes, he is the only person I'm naming here, the only person to undergo such a scrutiny of schedule. That should be flattering - he's the one person in the game today who commands such a presence, the only person since Jack Nicklaus in the '70s who automatically makes or breaks a tournament.
Is there something here Im missing? Tiger is certainly right to play everywhere that hes played. But there are still several places here, on the PGA Tour, that are begging for an appearance. Hes the No. 1 personage in the sport, and as such, shouldnt the home country have a chance to see him as well?
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