| 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.
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