AMY POEHLERfinished up a routine about the Wall Street meltdown on last week's SaturdayNight Live by saying, "Basically, if your commercials air during golftournaments, you're done." Funny, and seemingly true, since 26 banks,brokerage houses and insurance companies have their names attached to PGA,Champions and Nationwide tour events, and even more advertise duringtournaments. The list includes AIG, Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by Bankof America (also a sponsor), and the troubled banks Northern Trust andWachovia, the latter of which considered a merger with the Memorial'spresenting sponsor, Morgan Stanley. But not all is necessarily as it appears."Competitors of those troubled giants like AIG and Merrill Lynch have everyreason to pump up ad spending to steal away customers," Media Life magazinereported last week. "And of course the new owners of these institutionswill want to up spending to repair what damage they can." To that point,Golf Channel president Page Thompson says, "At this time we have not seenany negative impact on either this year's sales or on future advertisingplans." The counterintuitive logic applies to naming rights too. "Inthe larger scheme of things, these sponsorships are often a fraction of thetotal ad budgets for these companies," says Don Hinchey, director ofcommunications for the Bonham Group, a sports marketing consultant in GreenwoodVillage, Colo. "In a way [they become] even more valuable, because it's avery public sign of reassurance. It says, 'We're still here, still viable, andwe're involved in things that people care about.'" In fact, a spokesman forMerrill Lynch, which has its name on Greg Norman's Merrill Lynch Shootout inDecember, says, "At this time, there are no plans to change thesponsorship." That may not mean much for your 401(k) account, and there'sstill much trouble in the financial world, but for now your Sunday afternoonsare safe, no matter what Amy Poehler thinks.
• MEANWHILE, BACKat the PGA Tour's Viking Classic, Will MacKenzie shot a 19-under 269 to reach aplayoff with Marc Turnesa and Brian Gay, then bested Turnesa with a birdie onthe second extra hole. In so doing MacKenzie also beat the 13 former RyderCuppers who had gathered at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss. JesperParnevik (MC) was the only Euro among the bunch, so it's hard to compare teamstats, but a full complement of 12 Americans makes it possible to ponder whatsort of fight they would have put up at Valhalla. David Toms led the way at 14under and a tie for eighth. He was followed by Lee Janzen (14th) and DavidDuval, whose 22nd was his best finish of the year by far, with Chris Riley(32nd), Vaughn Taylor (45th) and Larry Mize (56th) also finishing in the money.Unfortunately, Mark Calcavecchia, Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk, Jim Gallagher, J.J.Henry and Jeff Maggert missed the cut, meaning that if this dozen had reppedthe U.S., Paul Azinger would probably not be the genius he is today.
For news, scoresand photos from the Tour Championship, go to GOLF.com.
"I don't think the English issue will be a problemfor long."
—MY SHOT, G14
KEY STAT 24.8
Average World Ranking of the U.S. team going into the Ryder Cup. Europe's was22.2.
IT SAID | IT SAID
The Times of London struggled to decide which captainto like less
"Part of Azinger's stupidity [in riling up fans]was that his team didn't need any untoward help from the crowd."
—THE TIMES OF LONDON
"Faldo's thin skin ... and his grating sense ofhumor confirmed what we knew all along, which is that he is no naturalleader."
—THE TIMES OF LONDON
DAVE MARTIN/GETTY IMAGES (MACKENZIE)
TOP SON MacKenzie won, then posed with his two-month-old boy, Maverick.
ROBERT BECK (AZINGER)
ROBERT BECK (FALDO)