Truth and Rumors: Tiger's appearance fee, Goosen's HOF chances and sweet tweets

Pay the man Tiger Woods is set to defend his title at the Australian Masters, the last tournament he won before his
scandal hit the public eye last year. It won't surprise you to hear
that getting Tiger to the outback requires paying him an enormous
appearance fee. What might surprise you is who ends up footing that bill (from Thomas Hunter at The Sydney Morning Herald).

Tiger Woods is coming back to Melbourne for this year’s Australian
Masters but Victorian taxpayers, who are covering part of his
appearance fee, will never know how much they’re paying for the
privilege, says Victorian Tourism Minister Tim Holding.
Mr Holding said revealing the figure would give interstate governments
and other locations the chance to match or exceed the bid and lure the
star from Victoria.
"[Tiger's fee] won’t be made public," he told Radio 3AW.
‘‘We work very hard to secure these events and we don’t want to bid the
price up by disclosing the exact amounts.’’
It is understood Woods commands a $3 million appearance fee. It was
widely reported the Victorian government paid $1.5 million of the
golfer’s fee last year, despite Mr Holding saying today the exact
amount would not be made public.
The tournament prize money last year was $270,000.
If this sounds like the height of absurdity, it's possible that Tiger's appearance fee is a better investment than it sounds:
He said the expense was ‘‘infinitesimal’’ compared to the economic
benefit which flowed the Woods’ appearance, with audited figures
showing his performance at last year’s Australian Masters earned the
state $34 million, exceeding forecasts by more $15 million.
no golf purist, but I find the idea of appearance fees to be about the
most ridiculous premise of all time. While golf can be fun to watch, I
like to think of professional golfers as athletes, not entertainers
(with a few notable exceptions).
I'd rather see the money that goes to appearance fees actually show up
in the purse, so that it needs to be earned with a win (or at least a
solid showing) rather than with a wave of the cap. Ballot BusterErnie Els and Retief Goosen are the newest qualifiers on the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot, and it's no surprise that the talk around the golf writers' water cooler today is about the worthiness of the new candidates. As with any subjective vote, the biggest question is whether to focus on your gut or your stat sheet. Jim Brighters from TSN has chosen the former:
...When I look at the ballot, a name jumps at me, and that should be enough. I know enough about the careers to know basic win totals and major championships. The resume is there already, and if I'm not familiar with it, then I haven't been doing my job and am not qualified to vote.
With that being said, Els is a Hall of Famer, no doubt. He won two U.S. Opens in a relatively short period of time and fairly early in his career. Els won the third major and a different one, the 2002 British Open Championship. 
Els has been an elite golfer for the better part of 15 years. He was No. 1 in the world for a period of time, and perhaps more importantly, there was a good chunk of time where he was the clear No. 2 to Tiger Woods.
Mark my words, that will be just as important as being No. 1.
That's the difference between Els and Goosen. Truthfully, not being the second-best player isn't a benchmark as to whether you get in the Hall of Fame. Goosen was a great player for the middle part of the 2000s and that's admirable.
He doesn't have the longevity of Els. When the two were in their primes, Els was a world-class player who could be the best. Was Goosen? Hard to say he wasn't since he won two U.S. Opens, and truthfully, two of the hardest U.S. Opens any eyes have witnessed.

But Goosen never struck me as someone who should be favored in every major he teed it up in. Again, no formula for me, but my gut says no for Goosen.

I should start by saying that I agree with every point Brighters makes here about Els. He was dominant before Tiger, and he was as competitive as any human being could be after Tiger, which is about all we can ask. 
That being said, I think Brighters is far too hard on Retief Goosen. Yes, Goosen's PGA Tour win totals aren't as gaudy as some other players', but it's the World Golf Hall of Fame, not the PGA Tour Hall of Fame. Goose has won 9 times on the Sunshine Tour, 4 times on the Asian Tour and 14 times (tied for 15th all time) on the European Tour, earning the Euro Order of Merit twice. Those wins make his steady play on the PGA Tour all the more impressive, and his two U.S. Open wins are more than enough to put him over the top of HOF qualifications in my opinion. I will credit Brighters for one more thing, he's consistent: if I had to compare Goosen to another Hall of Famer, I'd probably pick 2004 inductee Tom Kite...who Brighters doesn't think belongs either.Sweet TweetsIn what I hope will become consistent fodder for the Truth and Rumors blog, PGA Tour golfers have been seriously upping their Twitter game lately. While Stewart Cink is still my personal favorite, he actually made the most waves this week not as a Tweeter, but as a Tweetie (that's a word, right?). Zach Johnson Tweeted this now famous photo of Cink in a compromising position a couple days ago, and it's become an internet sensation. In lieu of yet another "ball" pun, I think Wilbon and Kornheiser summed up the situation perfectly on PTI last night: "The swing thought here is definitely 'thin it to win it' don't want to hit it fat."In less dangerous Twitter news, Bubba Watson made sure to share his first ever hole-in-one during a US Open qualifier this week with all of his fans and followers. It's not news in and of itself, but it's pretty hilarious how excited the oft-exuberant Watson is about his ace. When you've only got 140 characters to work with and you spend 11 of them on exclamation points, you know you're pretty fired up. Who knows what might happen if he actually wins a tournament this year.

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by Kevin Cunningham