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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Malaysia, Home of Limited Fields

I must admit that I'm a bit confused. (What's new, right?) So much is being made of the various tours expanding into Asian markets but all I'm seeing are limited-field events. What's up with that?

Last week the LPGA played the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. It "boasted" a 60-player field at a time when many LPGA players are struggling to keep their cards.

This week the PGA makes its first trip to Malaysia for the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia. It has a massive 40-player field, also at a time when many PGA players are struggling to keep their cards.

Am I missing something here? Isn't this counter-productive?

At least the LPGA event drew most of the big names -- not just because the World #1 ranking is up for grabs, but also Player of the Year and some other races. Since LPGA players must earn their way into the World Golf Hall of Fame and these titles can earn them points that help them do it, there was a built-in reason for them to show up. Still, if you want to "build the game," a full-field event makes more sense to me.

The PGA has no such incentive. Only one of the Top 10 players (that would be Luke Donald) even bothered to make the trip, even though the WGC-China event falls in the following week. The Malaysian event pays as much as the Memorial (which has a larger field), so it's not a question of money. Apparently most of the big names just don't care.

So why not open it up to more players? With a bigger purse than any of the Fall Finish events, it would be one heck of a draw for the rank and file. Some of the decisions being made by the tours seem questionable to me, especially given the current economic climate.

I guess I'll be watching the Andalucia Valderrama Masters (to see if Kaymer can nab the #1 World Ranking instead of Westwood) and the Nationwide Tour Championship (with those 25 Tour cards up for grab) this week. At least the results at those tournaments will mean something.


  1. Ok - I wrote a reply and some technical problem caused it to not post and disappear. Not the first time this has happened.

  2. I'd suggest a calendar and a globe to cure your confusion.

    The top players have been off since The Tour Championship and The Ryder Cup. They aren't going to pack up and fly halfway around the world for 5 or 6 days, then pack up and fly back home.

    This is a new tournament that is attached to the PGA Tour - so they aren't paying millions in under the table appearance fees. It is also floating off by itself on the schedule.

    This is why the "world tour" a lot of people keep talking about won't work.

  3. The WGC-HSBC in China is next week (where the big names are playing) and, unless I'm badly mistaken, China and Malaysia are both in Asia. That's two weeks in a row; as it stands, the big names are only flying over for one week.

    Apparently they do "pack up and fly halfway around the world for 5 or 6 days, then pack up and fly back home."

    I guess the appearance fees are a bigger influence to the big names than they like to admit, despite their insistence that wins are the most important thing.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that they should aspire to some higher calling and eschew appearance fees -- it's their right to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. What I'm tired of is this "independent contractor" argument -- independent contractors go out and find their own work, entirely apart from some other organization creating jobs for them.

    The pros are members of individual tours; they have to meet minimum play requirements on those tours, and they have to get permission to play on other tours. That makes them "subcontractors," and they have certain responsibilities to the organizations that provide their work. They should make an effort to try and support some of the lower-profile and new events, since it's in their own best interests as well as those of the organizations.

    If the sponsors stop putting up the bucks, they won't be getting any appearance money.

  4. SO IT IS ! Apparently I need a new calendar, too. I thought the WGC was the week after Disney.

    Your argument holds water...except that the top players have already fulfilled their tournament number and monetary requirments for membership.

    However, as you pointed out on the calendar I need - pack up the wife, drop the kids off at the grandparents' house, and head to Asia for a couple of weeks. Geez - a $6 million purse among 40 guys followed by a $7 million purse among 70 guys. Two guaranteed paychecks and a nice vacation with the wife...unless they're heading to Australia after the WGC like they did last year.

  5. Well, Tiger will go to Australia sans wife and kids. He should have gone to Malaysia -- three weeks away from TMZ with pay sure sounds like a winner to me! ;-)

  6. Oh... and while I know the big guys have fulfilled their membership requirements, I still think they should consider the needs of the "other" sponsors. There are always going to be more little sponsors than big ones... and a smart subcontractor remembers that the welfare of the "boss" has a direct impact on his own welfare.

  7. As a personal argument - no problem - it would be a "nice" thing for them to do, to show up for different tournaments - but this is their own business, too. They have to do what is best for their own performance.

    but the word "Should" has no place in the argument. It's not up to us.

    Psst - Tiger doesn't have a wife anymore - and he didn't take the kids along to tournaments even when he was. That was all on Elin.

  8. I'm not saying they ought to play themselves out. Although it sounds glamorous to most of us, I know the travel gets tiring and expensive. But would it hurt a few of them to show up for one small tournament when they're playing themselves into shape after a layoff? Or maybe for three or four of them to agree to hit one of the struggling tournaments once in a while? Good PR can still give your "personal brand" a boost... which means more marketability and a bidding war for your face on somebody's product.

    If they don't do it and the poor economy really sinks its teeth into golf, they may be the ones saying "should have."

    Just a personal observation...