Mixed Reviews on the WGC


So just how great are the events reserved for the greatest players in the world? Thats my question this week, and I trust Im not alone in some of my thoughts.
Weve now spent six years covering, hyping and typing stories regarding the World Golf Championships events. Do you remember how it came to be in the first place?
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is the undisputed king of the WGC events, with 10 career victories.
In 1996 at the Presidents Cup, golfs five world governing bodies - PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour (South Africa) - joined together with designs on a new stable of international events that would begin in 1999. In that year of 1999 the Asian Tour also jumped aboard.
Together, the International Federation of PGA Tours created the Accenture Match Play Championship, the NEC Invitational, the American Express Championship and the World Cup ... providing a place for the best in golf to compete against only the best in golf.
After six years time, Tiger Woods is the only player to capture all four World Golf Championships titles in his career. And thus, the best of the best has proven himself as the best of the best.
Including this years NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Woods has 10 victories in 20 World Golf Championships starts. Iincluded in the total are three at this weeks American Express Championship, lending credence to the belief that -just like the major championships ' when only the best get together, Woods is a good bet to get the best of everyone involved.
How can you not get up for tournaments as big as these? Woods has said about playing in the WGC events. These are the best players in the world and youre going head-to-head against them. Thats why these tournaments were started.
Then-No. 1 in the world Greg Norman called the idea his own before the concept was finalized. Point being ' the best players wanted more than just four opportunities (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship) to go head-to-head.
Yet six years into this, Im just not as excited about these events as I feel Im supposed to be. Yes, I work at The Golf Channel and Im paid to cover it with enthusiasm. But work aside, Im also a huge fan of the sport who is being targeted just like you as a potential viewer or ticket buyer. And I just dont see the majority of these events as anything more than weeks for world ranking points, no cuts and big paychecks.
The Accenture Match Play Championship? Love it. Plenty of star power, yet completely unpredictable. Even the marginal golf fan can find reason to watch. But thats where my consistent allegiance to the WGC ends.
To me, the WGC events have truly created the Haves and the Have Nots. For the players - if youre in the tournament, youre doing great. Great world ranking, big money season. If youre not, youre wishing you were there.
And for the tournaments ' well, weve definitely given a reason for fans to lose a bit of interest in the regular tour stops. Sorry, but youve cut those events down to size. And if you happen to be set up against a WGC event, youre telling potential customers that theyre not seeing the best. How good is that?
Four major championships and three WGC events mean seven stops for Woods and three fewer chances that he would play in another regular tour event. Tell me that doesnt hurt Greensboro or Memphis or Canada? And its not Tigers fault. He plays a set number of tournaments, which happens to be his right.
Still, there has to be something to sink our teeth into ' right?
I think Ive found it.
Little known Jason Bohn feels like a giant this week after making birdie on Sunday at 18 to find enough money to move to 23rd on the PGA Tour money list and qualify. Hardly the young gun hotshot, it has taken him some time to find success. The journeyman pro earned his spot on the PGA Tour last year and won for the first time at this years B.C. Open. The WGC event, for him, is a grand stage to be included.
Sean O Hair is in the field as a fresh-faced rookie on the PGA Tour whose win this year at the John Deere Classic followed up a near win at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and proves that great play is rewarded ' period.
Bart Bryant has been around the block at least as much as anyone in the field. A win last year in San Antonio earned him a spot at the Mercedes Championships where he was the happiest man in the field. This years win at the Memorial was the ultimate validation. And now, to truly be included with the games stars, is the bonus he wondered if hed ever get.
Feel free to disagree that the WGC-NEC and this weeks AmEx are hardly tournaments with a lasting importance like we get from a major championship.
In short, my argument is this: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh are among a group that knows theyll always be invited to a WGC party. And Ill enjoy watching them because it truly is a treat to watch the best.
But for now, Ill reserve the right to pull for the collection of players like Bohn and OHair and Bryant that hopes theyll have a chance to find their way onto the invite list and pull the upset.
For me, that would be something to remember.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann