Now, any other ideas?
Two of Britain's top events are held this week and next, and the events have struggled mightily to get worthy Americans. Or top players, period. The Cisco Match Play event is one, the Dunhill Cup the other, and mention of them has brought a deep yawn and heads turning politely the other way.
Just one of Uncle Sam's golfers, Bob May, is entered in the Match Play. He was virtually unheard-of in this part of the world until this year because he played the European circuit. He dueled Tiger Woods all the way to a playoff at the PGA Championship and gained some notoriety there, but he is still struggling to make his mark on the rank-and-file golf populace. No offense at all to Mister May, but that's not quite what Match Play fathers were hoping when they requested 'top Americans.'
The Dunhill Cup is even more confusing. Three players comprise a team, and the American team is Tom Lehman, a bona-fide pick; Larry Mize, No. 120 in the world - and John Daly. Yes, Daly, who is 185th on the U.S. money list this year. The Dunhill used to be a prestigious event, but no more. Missing are Lee Westwood from the English team, Darren Clarke from the Irish team, Sergio Garcia from the Spanish team and Jean Van de Velde from the French team.
So it's not just the Americans. Australia, which has produced such an exciting stable of great golfers, will contend with Nick O'Hern, Stephen Leaney and Peter O'Malley. One might argue that the extreme distance is the culprit, but England didn't do much better. Their team is composed of Jamie Spence, Brian Davis and Roger Chapman. If you know these gentlemen, it is proof that you have immersed yourself in the Golf Channel watching European Tour events.
Of course, American golfers have pressing business at hand. Ever hear of the Presidents Cup? That will keep 12 of the top Americans occupied. Getting one of the lads to leave the country while the Presidents Cup is looming would be difficult indeed.
Consider that the top 12 do not, frankly, need the money. Consider the case of Mr. T. Eldrick Woods. According to a report in the London Times, Tiger was offered his standard $l million to play in the Cisco this week. No favorable response. The Cisco suits then bid $5 million for two years. Still no favorable response. Finally they swallowed hard and stammered out the offer of $20 million for three years. No, said Tiger. When you're already making $40 million a year, it's terribly difficult to impress one with an addition of zeros to the offer, regardless of what the offer was in the first place.
The truth is, the World Match Play doesn't mean much anymore since the golfers play in a much more prestigious match play event, the Andersen Consulting, which is part of the World Golf Championship.
Darn it! There isn't anything to raise in front of the players' noses to make them want to play. Face it, $20 million just isn't that important any more.