Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Northern Trust Open: The Tiger Controversy

I found this interesting little article this morning - I recommend you read the whole thing vis the link.

Eight of the top 10 players in the World Ranking will play in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club this week, the only exceptions being No. 4 Ernie Els and No. 1 Tiger Woods.

Despite winning here in 1999, Els has no particular connection to Southern California. But Woods is a SoCal native, and he made his first start on the PGA Tour here, missing the cut (72-75) as a 16-year-old in 1992.

"He couldn't afford the plane ticket," Charles Howell III joked.

"He's only about the majors," Stuart Appleby said. "He uses regular tournaments to prepare for majors, whereas most of us use everything to prepare for everything. Augusta's a long way away."

Do regular tournaments not count in Tiger's world? It sure seems like they do. Woods gets sufficiently revved up to throw upper-cuts in places like Akron, Boston, Chicago, Dublin (Ohio) — you could go right down the alphabet.

So his aversion must be to the course itself. But Woods, and the Tour, would be better off if he scanned the schedule and highlighted the historic venues where he hasn't won, places like Colonial Country Club and Riviera. If those courses don't fit his style of play, if they've given him fits, all the more reason to play there.

He has won 62 times on Tour, including 13 majors. He has amassed a gaudy 20.07 rating in the World Ranking, which means his enormous lead over second-ranked Phil Mickelson (9.01) is even greater than Mickelson's lead over 1,350th-ranked Brian Henninger (0.01).

Woods got his start at Riviera thanks to a sponsor's exemption. He's from here. And there is precious little left for him to accomplish. What's more, Woods has a famously long memory for slights both real and imagined, and Riviera has taunted him more than any other place on any tour.

Add it all up, and his absence this week, or any week that the PGA Tour stops at Riviera, simply does not compute...

Read the complete golf news story here

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