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Tiger Sees TOURs $$ Go Elsewhere

What in the name of Nike is going on here? Last week Tiger Woods informs us that he is going to bypass the TOUR Championship this week. That makes two of the top money-winners who have decided to pass on the tournament ' Phil Mickelson, of course, being the other.
Those two, of course, are American players. Uh, the TOUR Championship is played in America ' in Atlanta, to be exact. Atlanta is ' oh, about an hours plane ride from Woods crib in Orlando. Its about 4-5 hours away from Mickelsons near San Diego, but good grief ' theyre offering more than a million dollars to the winner, over $100,000 just for showing up, exchanging pleasantries and finishing last. That should easily cover the fuel for Mickelsons private jet, plus put a little grocery money in his shirt.
I suppose I should be upset about this. But Im really not. And heres why ' its one more example of the PGA TOUR trying to stuff eye-boggling amounts of money in a few players pockets. And for once it doesnt work. Kind of reminds me of Jabba the Hut belching loudly as finishes knocking back another of his sumptuous meals ' you know, a million bucks just doesnt mean much to these guys anymore.
Mickelson, of course, didnt participate in this tournament last year ' hes already slammed the books shut on the 2006 season and is deep into childrens projects for his three kids. And Woods has to skip this event to rest up ' he still plans to play in China, in Japan, at the PGA Grand Slam in Hawaii, and in his own tournament in California before the year ends. Something, he felt, just had to give, and that something was the tours season-ending big enchilada.
My bigger beef with the TOUR Championship is that this payout constitutes official money. The rich bone up all year with half a million here, a quarter of a million there, a million here. They scoop up the shekels, then 30 of them play for all the pennies. Oops ' did I say 30? Not this year ' I should have said 27 (Stephen Ames is also out with a back injury). But those 27 enjoy the total purse of $6.5 million, and everyone else on the tours top 125 is left sitting out of the street.
Woods, by the way, will be skipping the event for the first time in his career. I can understand why he just doesnt want to participate this year. He just recently played in seven of nine weeks. Hes won well over $9 million already this year, approximately 10 times that much when you include endorsement money. When another $1.1 million payday means absolutely nothing to you ' and I can certainly understand why since he makes upwards of $90 million a year ' why bother?
Tiger missed two months this season due to the death of his father. He barely got in his 15-tournament limit, neglecting to play in the Funai Classic 15 minutes from his home two weeks ago ' a tournament which would have made him eligible for the Vardon Trophy (which he would have won). But his trophy room is overflowing with Vardons ' six already.
This sermon, incidentally, doesnt mean to suggest that Woods, Mickelson or any professional golfer is overpaid. They certainly arent when you consider that many actors or actresses are paid sums that make pro golfers look like Joe or Jane Doe, when a singer with acute adenoid problems can easily make what they do with one mindless ditty, when several CEOs routinely get paid a kings ransom while their stocks are spiraling down-down-down the toilet. Hey, at least the golfers actually work for their money ' some of it, anyway.
Youve got to blame the tour for making these guys financially comfortable with just 15-20 tournaments a year. Is it really necessary to frantically beat your brains out for 30 events a season? Of course not, not when youve already made two or three million in less than a year of tournaments.
No, I dont begrudge Tiger for deciding to stay home while 27 of his fellow tour pros are enjoying the PGA TOUR's largesse. Hey, Tiger plays for major championship victories, and for a page in the history books. He plays for the PGA TOURs real grand prize, the PLAYERS Championship. He doesnt play for one week when an intramural tournament is supposed to give the boys even more riches. Woods knows that the tournament this week is a cozy little closed shop invented solely to give the participants yet more money.
The payout potential? Well, a million bucks just doesnt go very far anymore.
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