On the currentedition of his HBO show, Real Sports, Bryant Gumbel argues that "the nextlogical step" for Tiger Woods would be to "call some of his corporatepartners" and start his own tour, so he could "keep more of the moneyhe's now earning for others." As evidence, Gumbel points out that theInternational has just gone out of business because Woods wouldn't play in theevent. It's only a matter of time before the same fate befalls other Tigerlesstournaments, Gumbel says.
In so declaring,Gumbel gave mainstream-media credence to a rumor that's been floating aroundgolf for the better part of a year, and in two clicks of a mouse the theorytook flight on the Internet, where chat-room pontificators noted that Woodscould forgo his Tour membership and still get into 14 events a year, includingall four majors, because of his World Ranking and past champion status. By theend of the week the Tiger Tour sounded like a fait accompli.
Real Sports is afine show, but in real life Gumbel added two and two and got five. Theblogosphere checked the math and came up with seven.
The International,known for its use of the modified Stableford scoring system, had been playingby its own set of rules for years, and it went away for reasons as varied andcomplex as the man who ran it, Jack Vickers (Golf Plus, Feb. 19). The PGA Tourmay continue to contract, but if it does it will be because there are too manyevents that not enough people watch, and that would be true even if Woods wereplaying in every last one.
Don't believe it?Anyone up for another Battle at the Bridges? Not Tiger. He got out after hiscontract mercifully expired. Same with the moderately viewed Skins Game. Eventhe Tour-sanctioned event he hosts, the Target World Challenge, fails tocapture the imagination. Its 16-man field and mid-December date give it thefeel of a chummy exhibition where there's little at stake--for players orviewers. Can't wait for a whole season of those.
Gumbel eitherdoesn't know or chooses to ignore that the FedEx Cup's compacted schedule wasso designed in part because Woods and Phil Mickelson complained about thelength of the season. (The Tour also needed a new idea to sell to thenetworks.) Both of them reportedly were briefed on the details as the FedEx Cupwas being developed. Since each gave his nod of approval, it stands to reasonthat, for at least the first few years, Tiger and Phil will support the FedExCup, playing in a minimum of three of the four playoff events. (Although thearrival of baby Woods might muck things up this summer.)
Moreover, Woods isone of golf's foremost historians. As a child, he studied the game's past andhung a chart of Jack Nicklaus's achievements on his wall. He spent everyMasters champions' dinner prying stories of Tour times gone by out of ByronNelson, whom he always called Mr. Nelson. Yes, Woods is motivated by Nicklaus's18 majors, but also by Sam Snead's 82 Tour wins and, as we've all beenspeculating lately, Nelson's "untouchable" 11 Tour victories in arow.
Woods wants to beremembered for breaking the records those men set, not for destroying the Tourthey built.
Paula Creamer banishes a sophomore slump by winning theSBS Open
HIGH EXPECTATIONS * DROUGHT + WINTER VACATION -PRESSURE + PINK POWER = FAST START
TRUST ME by JIM GORANT
Sunday was more about a rising Charles Howell than a falling PhilMickelson.
ROBERT BECK (WOODS)
TEAM PLAYER Despite the Nike One logo and his TW shirt, Woods isn't a solo act.
RICK FRIEDMAN/CORBIS (HILARY CLINTON); PATRICK GIARDINO/CORBIS (DESERT); JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (SKIER); MANGO PRODUCTIONS/CORBIS (MEDITATOR); DARREN CARROLL (CREAMER WITH CLUB); RONEN ZILBERMAN/AP (CREAMER WITH CUP)