SBD/January 24, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Woods Acknowledges Appearance Fee Played A Factor In Tournament Choice

Woods, McIlroy, Westwood (l to r) among touted players in Abu Dhabi field
Tiger Woods today acknowledged that “being paid an appearance fee played a significant role in deciding to open his 2012 season in the Middle East instead of California, where he had traditionally started his golf year,” according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. Woods is making his season debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which begins Thursday. The prize money purse of $2.7M “is less than half of what is being offered this week on the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open but only slightly more than what Woods is believed to be receiving just for showing up.” Asked if the payment of appearance fees influences his scheduling, Woods said, "I'd have to say yes, it certainly does. That's one of the reasons why a lot of the guys who play in Europe and they do get paid. I think the only tour that doesn't pay is the U.S. Tour.” The PGA Tour “prohibits the payment of appearance fees.” The Abu Dhabi tournament “has the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking” and also has “six of the top 10 and 11 of the top 25.” Woods said, “Unfortunately, just scheduling-wise, it didn't just didn't work out. As I said, HSBC has been a huge supporter of (his) foundation. It's one of the reasons I'm here” (ESPN.com, 1/24). Author John Feinstein said, “I have no problem with Tiger Woods wanting to go overseas and wanting to take a two or three million dollar guarantee, that’s a lot of money for anybody." However, Feinstein said he did have an issue with Woods "saying on his website that he’s going to Abu Dhabi because he likes to see new places." Feinstein: "We all know he’s going to Abu Dhabi because he doesn’t want to go to Dubai, where he used to go, because Dubai is sponsored by Omega and he just signed a contract with Rolex. Again, nothing wrong with doing that, a business decision. Just at least step up and say, ‘It was a business decision. I’m going to Abu Dhabi for the money over going to San Diego, where I’ve had great success” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 1/23).

WHO HAS IT RIGHT? ESPN golf experts debated Woods’ start for the ’12 season, and with many top players receiving appearance fees for playing in Abu Dhabi, the question is “which tour has it right?” ESPN.com Senior Golf Writer Michael Collins said, “Obviously the European Tour. They play for less than half the purses on a weekly basis but more and more we see stronger fields (by Official World Golf Ranking) than at PGA Tour events.” Harig said, “The PGA Tour. Paying players to show up is a dangerous practice, and makes it more difficult for some tournaments to compete. It is one of the reasons why the European Tour has pockets of strong tournaments -- and many weak ones.” ESPN.com Senior Golf Editor Kevin Maguire said, “Europe's on the mark here. The top players draw the eyeballs to the TV broadcasts and people to the tournaments, so shouldn't they get more of the loot?” (ESPN.com, 1/23).

VYING FOR YOUR ATTENTION: GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussion talked about whether Woods in Abu Dhabi or the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines will "get more of your attention." SI Senior Writer Gary Van Sickle said, “Abu Dhabi bought the stars and the spotlight. I'll be interested in both, but only Abu Dhabi is going to get on the front page of the sports section.” But SI Senior Writer Michael Bamberger disagreed and said, “Abu Dhabi just feels like the ultimate money grab.” SI Writer-Reporter Rick Lipsey said, “Honestly, you wouldn't turn your tube to Torrey over Abu Dhabi if they were on at the same time?” SI Golf Group Managing Editor Jim Herre said, “Everyone will want to know how Tiger's doing in Abu Dhabi, but they'll watch Torrey” (GOLF.com, 1/22).
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