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TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY: IS RESOLUTION TO RYDER DEBATE NEARING?
Published August 16, 1999
PGA of America CEO Jim Awtrey was interviewed by CBS' Jim Nantz during the third round of the PGA Championship Saturday and said that his organization "was prepared to accommodate" the players' request to allocate a portion of Ryder Cup revenues to charities of their choice. Awtrey: "We've said we're going to work on this over the next few months. By the end of the year we'll have a plan to accomplish that." Awtrey: "In my opinion, listening to the players ... there is no issue over pay-for-play. This is put to bed. It is not an issue. We're going to work on charitable contributions" ("PGA Championship," CBS, 8/14). FALLOUT: Phil Mickelson, asked to confirm a report that he "requested" a payment of $800,000 for each player: "It's not accurate, but it's not far. That was not my solution. The solution was to let (the PGA) decide the dollar amount and whatever they came up with was fine" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/16). Lanny Wadkins said Mickelson was the "worst" at last week's meeting at Medinah. (BOSTON HERALD, 8/14). Davis Love III noted that the money goes to support PGA club pros: "They operate the pro shops that also market the equipment the tour players endorse. That's a big source of income to the guys who play the tour" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/14). In DC, Leonard Shapiro wrote that several agents noted that many players "have financial incentive clauses in their equipment and clothing endorsement contracts for making" the Ryder Cup team (WASHINGTON POST, 8/15). Paul Azinger said the play-for-pay issue has nothing to do with charity: "That's bull. It wasn't about charity at first. That's just spin control" (STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/14). Brad Faxon, who is against compensation: "I know I'm not going to make any friends over this. .... It's just hard to be sympathetic with these guys when there are people sitting home not making 8 million a year" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/15). THE MOTIVATION? In Atlanta, Furman Bisher wondered why some of the players would seek compensation for playing in the Ryder Cup and wrote that the most "logical" reason is that they "resent the money which they generate going to the PGA of America" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/14). In N.Y., Frank Hannigan wrote that the players "don't trust" the PGA or the PGA Tour, and wrote, "It is but an early skirmish in what will probably become a war not to be contained without a shakeout of the game's principal powers" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/15). In Boston, Joe Gordon speculated that the PGA of America will eventually be "forced to compromise and direct more of the profits to the PGA Tour, where a percentage of the revenue already is earmarked" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/15). On "The Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica said, "It has never been a charity issue. This is the agents. This is IMG talking for [Tiger] Woods and [David] Duval: 'How can we get off the hook? I know -- we'll make it sound like it's all for the kids.'" John Feinstein: "If you're asked to do a job, then you should be paid for that job. ... But for them to bring it up now and to bring it up publicly, it makes them all look bad" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 8/15). CHOOSING SIDES: In Orlando, Larry Guest, on players supporting play-for-pay: "Somebody please tell them they can't win public favor with this churlish stance" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/15). In Jacksonville, Mike Bianchi wrote to "spare me the charity talk. You know and I know this isn't about the merciful among us. ... My country tis of thee. Sweet land of appearance fee" (TIMES-UNION, 8/15). But in St. Paul, Jim Caple wrote that it's "un-American [to suggest] the people who generate all that revenue shouldn't have a voice in what happens to the money" (PIONEER PRESS, 8/15). In Baltimore, John Eisenberg writes that Woods and Duval "deserve to make more than" the $5,000 they will get playing in the Ryder Cup, "but to complain about it just weeks after ABC handed them" $1.4M for the "Showdown at Sherwood" is the "definition of greed" (SUN, 8/16).