“Tee Off-Teed Off on Golf”
They go to the tees today in the opening day of action in the Farmers Insurance Open at picturesque Torrey Pines.
The stars will come out starting at 9am and shine throughout the day, or will they really? Things have changed on the tour, where money is plentiful, and suddenly appearance fees have become the ‘ask for thing’ from agents.
The good: Phil Mickelson is here, always here, giving back to the course he loves, and the community he grew up in. Ricky Fowler, coming off an amazing payday is here too, Murietta prospect, who seems to have arrived as a star on the tour, based not just on the win Abu Dhabi, but the way he finished up last year. Charley Hoffman of Poway is here, flashing some good rounds, but yet to string weeks and weeks together. Pat Perez is part of the guys on the leader board too. And as hot a young guy as there is, like a Jason Day, the defending champ, is returning too.
The bad: There will be no Tiger Woods sightings this year, and maybe never again. His US Open victory, playing on a broken leg in 2008, is the lasting calling card of his career for us at Torrey Pines. He always played well here. He always had monster crowds walking the course with him. And when he played, his TV ratings were phenomenal, just like his 79-career PGA wins and 14-majors. Now father time is collecting back dues.
Tiger is not coming back soon, if ever, from his second back surgery. All that after the Achilles, the ankle, the foot, the shoulder.
The ugly: Those who have never played here, or elected to go somewhere else, or want bonus money to show up. No budding superstar Jordan Spieth, who has been here in the past. No Rorie McIlroy, who has never been here. There are others too, who make the international tourney scene, where appearance money seems in abundance. The PGA is trying to deal with it, players not coming, because of dollars or the course layout, just doesn’t seem fare.
In every PGA tour stop, there are ‘doers’ like the Century Club, who make these events something special in the community. They love the game, they work year round, and they volunteer. It’s not just San Diego, a major stop, but it’s Quad Cities and Hartford and everywhere in between. Somehow, someway, the PGA needs to impress upon the superstar, the tourney backers and sponsors deserve more. The players make great money. It should be their way of giving back, to make a commitment to play in lots of places.
They’ll hit it long today in the lst round. There will be hooks and shanks. The PGA Tour Board needs to hit it down the middle, the big names should be on our leader board here at Torrey Pines, on a year by year basis.