The PGA Tour has a few unofficial rules: 1.) You always return to an event you won the previous year; 2) An event with the word “Buick” in its name is likely to have Tiger Woods in the field; and 3) Big stars play tournaments hosted by other big stars.
That’s why it was so surprising to read today that four of the top 10 players in the world wouldn’t be playing this week’s Memorial Tournament, an event that should called the Jack Nicklaus Tournament since it’s played on a course he designed in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and benefits local charities.
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational in February always attracts a murderer’s row of top players and the World Top 10 likely will all pay tribute to their master at the Tiger Woods’ At&T National at Congressional in late June. The Byron Nelson Championship never had trouble nabbing big names while Lord Byron was still alive. So how could Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Adam Scott all take a pass on the Memorial?
Woods of course has a good reason since he’s still recovering from knee surgery. He even held off withdrawing from the tournament until last week (likely out of respect for Nickalus). Vijay Singh hurt his ribs playing in the BMW Championship in England last week.
After that, the excuses get murkier. Adam Scott isn’t playing due to fatigue, according to his publicist. (Scott withdrew from the Shell Houston Open earlier this year with a throat infection.) And Els just called this weekend a “gap in his schedule,” which sounds like a Tour player euphemism for “kick back and enjoy these millions I’ve been making. Caviar, anyone?”
Someone got to Els though, because now he’s packing his bags for Columbus. Els surprised tournament officials Monday with a posting on his Web site that he would not play again until next week in the Stanford St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn.But he changed that posting Tuesday."Originally, this week was going to be a gap in my schedule, but I've changed my mind and decided to play in the Memorial," Els said. Must have been an offer he couldn’t refuse.