Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's It Say About The Players That Westwood, McIlroy Aren't There?

   With world No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 6 Rory McIlroy bypassing The Players Championship this week at the famous TPC Stadium Course, does it say more about them or about the tournament?

   It says something about both.

   As for Westwood and McIlroy's highly publicized absences, it has the feel of a political ploy designed to point out the problems with limiting the number of PGA Tour events non-members can play each year. Westwood made that clear by skipping The Players despite having a game built to win at the tricked-up but fun to watch Stadium Course.

    McIlroy can point to his two visits to The Players and his two missed cuts as evidence that the course doesn't suit his often otherworldly game. He has the facts in his favor but it's hard to believe there's a course to which McIlroy can't adapt his game.

   Both players share the same agent, Chubby Chandler, and he seems to be making a point to the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.. about limitning non-members to 10 events a year. That may work for the rank and file but it's my feeling that if you're in, say, the top 40 in the world, you should be free to play where you want.

   The idea is to get the best players on the course as often as possible. Let more scheduling freedom be one of the perks of a high world ranking. Having Westwood and McIlroy there this week would make a special week even better.

   But how special is The Players Championship?

   It's one of the biggest tournaments in the world. It's not a major championship and it never will be but it doesn't have to be a major. It's great being what it is.

   I think it woudl be better if it were moved back to the latter part of March when it used to be played but that's not likely to happen. The way it fits now, there's a big event from April through August now, allowing players to point to peak moments. That's what Tiger's always talking about and it's why he's at the Stadium Course this week -- because the U.S. Open is just over a month away.

   The Players Championship has its own traditions and, love it or hate it, the 17th hole demands you pay attention.

   It's a huge week -- with or without Westwood and McIlroy.


Anonymous said...

100% agree. It's a travesty the best European Tour players are limited too such a small number of events on The PGA Tour. But this has been an issue for a long time and one of the reasons Greg Norman attempted to put together a world tour.