Sports Commentary 6/18/13
The grind of the PGA Tour and honoring commitments..
Tiger Woods could make a living playing in just the major golf tournaments and he wouldn’t be beholding to anyone. Tiger picks and chooses, playing in a minimum of PGA Tour events just to maintain his Tour eligibility, selecting the courses that best suit him and the fields in which he’ll be most competitive. There are, of course, the events beyond the majors that demand an appearance, the Players Championship, at least three of the four Fed Ex Cup tournaments, if you advance and you’re serious about winning it, and nobody says no to Arnie when the invitation to the Palmer comes. Otherwise Tiger makes decisions based on conflicts with non PGA events that pay appearance fees, or time off to prepare for majors on hand picked courses designed to match the conditions. Tiger was the first golfer to arrive on Tour on his own terms, with more endorsement money in the bank before playing his first professional event than most touring pros make in a lifetime, winnings and endorsements combined. The vast majority of the pros couldn’t make a living playing just majors, they owe their livelihoods to the Tours, PGA and European, and most of them, even the ones who eventually reach that status of being able to pick and chose, never forget, they remain committed to the week in and week out events that established them. It’s that kind of loyalty that’s on display in the field at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell this week with an array of golfers who’s lifestyle has been enhanced to “pick and choose” status over the years, many of whom are sacrificing a week off after the intensity of the U.S. Open, to be here. Primary among them is newly crowned Open champ Justin Rose, who’s wife, Kate, placed a call to Travelers Championship tournanent director Nathan Grube barely two hours after her husband planted a kiss on his new trophy to inform him they had media committments in New York that would delay their arrival but they would be here Tuesday night. Rose is already scheduled for a session with the media tomorrow afternoon. It’s a show of respect for the Tour, but also for the Travelers, which is not only the title sponsor of a tournament, but a primary season long sponsor of the PGA Tour. The announcement that Rose will be here coincided with an announcement from chief administrative officer Andy Bessette that Travelers is close to renewing it’s committment to the event with a new, long term, sponsorship deal that should be in place by the end of this summer to pick up where the current one ends, after next year’s edition. Committment to an event, a market and the charitable organizations that benefit from the tournnament was never more on display than in 2006, when, presented with an opportunity, only if they were prepared to move in a 48 hour window, Travelers turned an expected announcement of Hartford’s inclusion on the Champions Tour into a ninth inning, game saving committment that would keep us on the big tour. That kind of committment deserves a show of respect. It’s that kind of respect that every golfer in Cromwell this week, who had the option of taking a week off to recover from the most gruelling week of the year, is showing for the Travelers, and for us. Now it’s our turn. We have the rest of the week to let them know how much we appreciate it. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.