In fairness to the Bob Hope Classic, and Phil Mickelson, the debate over weak fields and far-flung money grabs on foreign tours really isn’t about appearance fees or global brands. At least not for Lefty.
“Shag Bag” was there in 2007, adjacent a windblown 18th green at The Classic Club when Mickelson walked out of the scoring trailer fresh from a final-round 78 which was just three shots higher than the field average that cold day. Lefty stopped, turned to longtime Desert Sun golf writer Larry Bohannan and asked, “Larry are they going to play here (Classic Club) every year?” Bohannan said that was the plan, but Mickelson pressed on: “Every year?” “Yes,” Bohannan smiled.
With that Mickelson’s nine-year history with the Hope was over, which opened the door for him to play this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour.
The Hope has since nixed the Classic Club from the rota, but the point was made. Top players base their schedules on the quality of the golf course and how it fits into a crowded calendar, not appearance fees or even purse size.
Asked last month the secret to running a successful tournament, Stewart Cink echoed the thoughts of many. “Whatever the Wells Fargo Championship does is the magic bullet,” Cink said. “They’ve got it all – great course, services. It’s like any other business, you have to spend money.”