The Daily Flogging: Bob Hope no-shows, Solheim team meets Obama, no sponsor for Torrey Pines

Wednesday January 13th, 2010

The Flogging is a smorgasbord of news, opinion and occasional grass clippings from around the wide world of golf. Here's what you've been missing … The PGA Tour's biggest problem, as any tournament sponsor or TV network can tell you, is its inability to deliver its best players. In NASCAR, the best drivers race week in and week out. Not in golf, where top players cherry pick their spots and sometimes opt to play on different continents, thus hurting their home tour's product. As Larry Bohannan points out in The Desert Sun, SBS champ Geoff Ogilvy won't be playing the Bob Hope Classic, which starts next week. He'll be at the Abu Dhabi Championship, a European tour event in the United Arab Emirates. So will American Anthony Kim, who lives in La Quinta, site of the Hope.

"The disappointment is that American players raised on the PGA Tour are choosing to play in Abu Dhabi or Doha, Qatar (opposite the San Diego tournament) rather than playing on PGA Tour events those weeks.Some players, such as La Quinta's Anthony Kim, will play in Abu Dhabi. Others, such as Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry, won't play in Abu Dhabi but will begin their travel around the world the week of the Hope to play in Doha a few days later."
With tours struggling to find sponsors, it's a serious slap in the face for Kim to skip the Hope, his hometown tournament. But Bohannan points out that Kim seems to have the Tour's blessing: "Tour players are not allowed to play in events conflicting with the PGA
Tour. That is, unless the player receives a conflicting event waiver
from the tour." If this issue doesn't come up at the next player meeting, it should.
Free advice: To be eligible for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus, a player should be required to play three events from a list of, say, 12 non-major tournaments that would rotate every year. You want to play for $10 million, fellas, then you've got to jump through one or two small hoops. Is that too much to ask? Feel-good moment of the dayThe victorious U.S. Solheim Cup team earned an audience with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. No doubt it was a glorious photo op, though photos of the team with Obama have not yet been released. Mr. President asked the champs for tips on how to get his daughters into golf, wrote GolfWeek's Beth Ann Baldry. "We told him to get them out to a tournament and let them drive a golf cart," suggested LPGA poster girl Michelle Wie. Just don't let them steer to far to the right. The deal that provided General Motors cars for Tiger's use ended two weeks ago, according to USA Today, and Tiger's famous hydrant-kissing Escalade will be repaired and sold. (Are you listening, World Golf Hall of Fame and/or Phil Mickelson?) It is all but certain that the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines will not have a title sponsor this year, writes Union-Tribune golf expert Tod Leonard. The paper quotes Century Club chairman Tom Wornham as saying the tour will likely be on the hook for most of the event's $5.3 million purse. "This is a very special arrangement," Wornham told the paper, "and they're not going to want to replicate it."
When the tour assumed control of the Memphis tour stop last year after Stanford Financial's collapse, it promptly cut the purse by $1 million. The Torrey Pines event was sponsored by Buick before GM filed for bankruptcy. Before the Great Recession, the tournaments that struggled to find sponsors were mostly events that Tiger Woods seldom (or never) played, but Torrey Pines is one of his favorite stops. He usually plays (and wins). No sponsor for Torrey should have the PGA Tour at DefCon 1. That's right, Johnny. Veteran tour player Brad Faxon, an eight-time winner who has struggled to come back from knee surgery, will join the NBC Sports golf team in 2010. Fax, as he's known, also hopes to compete in some tour events. "I'm hoping that for at least one tournament, I can walk off the course and right into the booth to provide a first-hand account," Faxon said. It's a minor surprise that NBC didn't sign John Daly, who is considerably more experienced at walking off the course.
Today's tip of the retro golf visor goes to... Jack Renner, who once lost the Hawaiian Open when Isao Aoki incredibly holed out from the fairway on the final hole.

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