Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where did everyone go?

The Bob Hope Classic kicks off today and what used to be a can't miss stop on the PGA tour schedule is now struggling to attract big name talent. Sixteeth ranked Steve Stricker is now the top player in the field after Anthony Kim had to withdraw Tuesday due to a sore shoulder.

The Tournament itself still draws a ton of fans and has donated millions to charity over the past decade, but just isn't drawing top names anymore. Tiger Woods has never played in the five day event, and Phil Mickelson has been on and off again although he's won the event twice.

This year's event is being hosted by Hall of famer Arnold Palmer who mentioned he's more than a little disturbed by the lack of top-notch talent at the event. "It's been good for all of the players, the people who are out here playing, and I would just hope that they would understand that they need to support tournaments as much as they possibly can," is what Arnie quipped about the event." "I know that you can't play every week. But when I hear some of the reasons for not playing, it disturbs me a little. And they do need to get out and support the events. "I used to spread my tournament appearances so that I never missed a tournament more than two years in a row. Tournaments like the Hope, of course, I played every year because I just simply enjoyed being here."

I think Palmer, who has good intentions, is missing the boat on this one. The PGA tour schedule simply isn't what it used to be. There are so many huge events on the PGA Tour in conjunction with huge events on other Tours that make it really tough to always attract the talent you think you should have. It has nothing to do with them skipping the event because they don't believe it has value, it's simply a matter of priorities. For example, five of the top fifteen ranked players in the World are playing the Qatar Masters this week. Why? Because it's a huge event in the Race to Dubai which incidently is worth $10,000,000. There is so much choice, and so many events these days that unfortunately some middle-tier events are going to suffer.

It's too bad, as Bob Hope did so much for the game.

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