So, there is no soccer today. That means, I guess, there will be one goal fewer scored than were scored yesterday in 210 minutes of play. I realize this is where I get into trouble with the soccer-istas for not recognizing the beauty of the game; the opportunities denied; the beautiful passes that led to great opportunities that were denied by a great save.
I have no doubt that’s all true but ONE goal? Worse—as I’ve said before how can you take an event seriously that decided who advances and who does not by way of a shootout. Or, as it is technically called, penalty kicks. Whatever. The only thing sillier than a team advancing in something as important as The World Cup through a shootout is someone advancing in a shootout after a 0-0 tie for 120 minutes. Name me another sport where you can NOT SCORE for an entire game and still advance. (Don’t bring up regular season hockey, we’re talking advancing in a championship tournament here).
Anyway, enough soccer. Call me when someone scores or the U.S. scores first in a game that matters.
Back here where soccer matters most when people can scream, “USA,” this is the week of Tiger Woods’ annual golf tournament. Or is it?
The PGA Tour announced early in the year after Woods’ fall from grace that the tournament formerly known as, “The AT+T National hosted by Tiger Woods,” would be known this year as just, “THE AT+T National.” Apparently the sponsor wasn’t thrilled with seeing Woods’ name right after its name so it was removed. The tour announced—in classic tour fashion—that Tiger wouldn’t be the host because he was at that moment taking a leave of absence from golf so, given the uncertain nature of his future plans, it was best to remove his name for this year.
Of course Woods’ plans to come back and play crystallized soon after that and, apparently, his ‘people,’ went to the tour and asked to have Tiger’s name put back on the tournament title. They were told no.
That said, everything else has stayed the same. The tournament director is an employee of The Tiger Woods Foundation. The foundation still runs the event, received the bulk of the charity money from the event—even though a directive went out from the tour to its TV partners this week to be sure to emphasize that two other charities were also receiving funds—decided who received sponsor exemptions into the event and put together everything else associated with the event.
Woods has acted very much as you would expect a player host to act. He was here (Aronomink Country Club outside Philadelphia, more on that later) for media day; he took part in today’s opening ceremony; he referred in his press conference yesterday to ‘we,’ on several occasions when talking about the tournament. The general consensus is that his name will be on the event again in the future, perhaps as soon as next year, almost certainly by the time it returns to Congressional Country Club outside Washington in 2012.
All of which is fine. The tour gave this event a plum date—the middle week of the three between The U.S. Open and The British Open when most top players want to play—as a come on to get Woods involved. It helped him secure Congressional as a host site because Woods didn’t want his name on a tournament played at the tour owned TPC Avenel Farms, even after its redesign. Avenel was best described years ago by Davis Love III who said, “Avenel’s a nice course—unless you have to drive by Congressional to get there.”
Congressional was given huge money for a rental fee in 2007 and when it came time to try to extend the contract in 2008 both Woods and Commissioner Tim Finchem flew in for a meeting with club members because there was a good deal of pushback from the membership about giving up the club Fourth of July weekend. The club approved a new three year deal beginning in 2012 with a three year option on both sides—by a voting margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.
That vote took place when Woods was still a bullet-proof iconic figure. There’s little doubt if it took place today, the golf tournament would no longer be at Congressional. No one knows what Woods standing will be four years from now so it is hard to know whether either side will exercise its option then.
Of course everyone around here is claiming to know nothing. What percentage of the charity money is the Woods Foundation getting? No one seems to know. What is the likelihood his name will be back on the event next year or the year after? No one is sure. Will the tournament be at Congressional after 2014? Well, there is an option on both sides.
Aronomink isn’t a bad backup. The plan all along was for the tournament to come here this year and next because the U.S. Open was already scheduled for Congressional in 2011 and the greens had to be redone there this year to prepare for it. If Congressional doesn’t want the event back after 2014 it could come back here.
But there’s also the issue of sponsorship AT+T has four more years on its contract after this year. If it does NOT want Woods name back on the event an opt-out compromise might be reached. It’s a sure bet the tour is going to want Woods’ name back on the tournament as soon as possible. He still sells more tickets and sponsorships than anyone, regardless of the hits his reputation has taken the last six months.
That’s why the tour made no attempt to remove Woods’s foundation out of control here or attempted to take any of the charity money from the foundation. Finchem has made it clear almost since day one that he understands he still needs Woods more than Woods needs him. You can bet he’s negotiating with AT+T to get Tiger’s name back on the event for next year even as we speak.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a tad hypocritical for the tour to act as if it, ‘took action,’ after the Woods revelations when in fact it did almost nothing. And what it did do was because the sponsor insisted on some kind of action.
Here’s one thing I’m willing to bet on: If AT+T (or another sponsor) hasn’t agreed by this time next year to put Woods’ name back on the tournament no later than 2012, Woods will find a reason to play somewhere else or not play at all while this event is going on in 2011.
That’s more of a sure thing than a 1-0 lead in soccer.
John recently appeared on The Jim Rome Show (www.jimrome.com) to discuss 'Moment of Glory.' Click here to download, or listen in the player below:
John's new book: "Moment of Glory--The Year Underdogs Ruled The Majors,"--is now available online and in bookstores nationwide. Visit your favorite retailer, or click here for online purchases