| Bunker Men­tal­ity

Part 2 As Mike Wil­son con­tin­ues to write, the US-based cir­cuit is now ex­pand­ing into Korea, Ja­pan and even global dom­i­na­tion on the cards with the min­i­mal re­sis­tance of­fered and it’s bad for golf in the Far East.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Mike Wil­son

The PGA Tour is sell­ing the game of golf in Asia short and is now ex­pand­ing into Korea, Ja­pan and even global dom­i­na­tion on the cards with min­i­mal re­sis­tance of­fered.

Ty Votaw, who speaks on be­half of the IFPGAT, in ad­di­tion to his role as Ex­ec­u­tive VP and Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer for the PGA Tour said, “Each mem­ber of the IFPGAT has its own com­mu­ni­ca­tions teams, and no one is au­tho­rized to speak on be­half of the col­lec­tive Fed­er­a­tion with­out the con­sent of the other mem­bers. Ac­cord­ingly, I will not be an­swer­ing your ques­tions.”

A con­ve­nient get-out-of-jail-free card in­deed, and an ap­par­ent con­flict of in­ter­ests, the self-in­ter­est of the PGA Tour.

Of­fer­ing the eighth fat­test prize fund in world golf, worth more than the Open Cham­pi­onship it­self, who­ever tops the CJ CUP leader­board on 22nd Oc­to­ber this year will bank a cheque for over US$1.5m, that’s 50% more than Asian Tour Or­der of Merit win­ner Scott Hend earned dur­ing the whole of 2016.

PGA Tour play­ers are no­to­ri­ously re­luc­tant to travel beyond their back­yards, and if the at­ti­tude of world num­ber 41, Kevin Kis­ner - hardly a sport­ing su­per­star - they ap­pear a bunch of pam­pered, over­paid and un­grate­ful brats, Kis­ner say­ing when asked about the new Tour­na­ment in South Korea, “It just seems like we should play at home, but I’m not sure where the Tour is try­ing to go around.

“Ob­vi­ously, they want to make it more of a world Tour, which is great. We’re play­ing for US$9.25 mil­lion, but not all of us want to get on a plane and fly over there and play for it,” Kis­ner adding, “I’d rather have a US$9.25 mil­lion purse in Aiken, South Carolina.”

Kis­ner, who has earned al­most US$2.2m so far this term with­out win­ning a Tour­na­ment and US$10.7m in ca­reer earn­ings with just one mod­est PGA TOUR vic­tory con­cluded, “The econ­omy is not grow­ing fast enough in the U.S. to keep ask­ing peo­ple to throw money at us.”

It could be ar­gued that in the case of the US$2.5m Ja­pan Air­lines Cham­pi­onship that there is cur­rently no Ja­panese se­nior’s cir­cuit, and that the LPGA Tour trav­els the world with­out crit­i­cism, both of which are true.

But the first-ever Cham­pi­ons Tour event in Asia sucks spon­sor­ship rev­enue and me­dia

space away from the do­mes­tic scene, while women’s golf can real­is­ti­cally only sup­port one ma­jor pro­fes­sional cir­cuit at this time.

Mean­while, with ten­sions reach­ing fever­pitch in the Korean Penin­sula with a war of words be­tween US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with both men threat­en­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion, the PGA Tour also de­clined to say whether diplo­matic ad­vice had been sought be­fore con­firm­ing its first-ever Tour­na­ment in South Korea.

PGA Tour golf is an ac­quired taste, and this cor­re­spon­dent is yet - and un­likely ever - to ac­quire it: ho­moge­nous play­ers on looka­like cour­ses, ob­sti­nately grudg­ing grunt­ing va­pid in­sights into their lat­est round, statis­tics ga­lore, strong al­le­giances to par­tic­u­lar play­ers based on state and/or col­lege af­fil­i­a­tions and on a purely prac­ti­cal ba­sis. As the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES is reach­ing its de­noue­ment in South Korea, it will be break­fast time in New York and the mid­dle of the night in California, hardly mak­ing for prime-time TV.

But the harsh re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion is that the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES is in the open cap­i­tal­ist mar­ket that Amer­ica pays homage. There is no more worth US$9.25m than the CIMB Clas­sic is worth US$7m, mean­ing spon­sors, me­dia out­lets and ul­ti­mately lo­cal and re­gional Tours and their play­ers will get burned, and golf in the re­gion will be the loser.

Un­til then, the PGA Tour is, in fact, start­ing covertly to be­gin with an ad­di­tional sub-cir­cuit, be­low the big-bucks WGC, ‘Ma­jors,’ FedEx Fi­nals and Play­ers Cham­pi­onship tier. Just be­neath the 20plus do­mes­tic events of­fer­ing more than over US$6m prize funds, but well above both the Web.com Tour and the sprin­kling of ‘Miserly’ events like the US$3.5m Bar­racuda Cham­pi­onship and the US$3m Puerto Rico Open.

But any­one who has ever tried to cut a tempt­ing, tasty gateau into too many thin slices, it be­gins to crum­ble, then there’s not enough cake to go round.

The PGA Tour is sell­ing the game of golf in Asia short, the Asian and KPGA Korean Tours have been sold down the river, CJ and the Jeju Gov­ern­ment have been sold the prover­bial pup, but could the in­sa­tiable, self­in­ter­ested jug­ger­naut that is the PGA Tour care less?

Not for a sin­gle nanosec­ond, be­cause of its stock-in-trade, a mi­cro­cosm of the free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy the USA pays homage to, is to sell its soul to the high­est bid­der, seize the spoils and ig­nore the good of the game.

Kevin Kis­ner - hardly a sport­ing su­per­star - say­ing when asked about the new Tour­na­ment in South Korea, “We’re play­ing for US$9.25 mil­lion, but not all of us want to get on a plane and fly over there and play for it. I’d rather have a US$9.25 mil­lion purse in Aiken, South Carolina.”

Ty Votaw, who speaks on be­half of the IFPGAT, in ad­di­tion to his role as Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and CMO for the PGA Tour said, “Each mem­ber of the IFPGAT has its own com­mu­ni­ca­tions teams, and no one is au­tho­rised to speak on be­half of the col­lec­tive Fed­er­a­tion with­out the con­sent of the other mem­bers.”

The US$750,000 CJ In­vi­ta­tional Hosted by KJ Choi has been a le­git­i­mate and au­then­tic Asian Tour event for over four years

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