Nov
24
2010
Tour Policy Change: Anything for The Players
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, who both snubbed the PGA Tour, were only going to be allowed to play in 10 sanctioned or co-sanctioned events on US soil, according to Tour policy. With the four majors and three WGC events, that would have left Westwood and McIlroy only three regular Tour events to play, which would have forced them to choose between THE PLAYERS (otherwise known as “the fifth major”) and another tournament. Not to worry, though, the rule was changed to accommodate the world’s No. 1, The Guardian‘s Lawrence Donegan reported:

“I spoke to them last week and I can play three world golf championships [in the US], four majors, the Players Championship and three invites,” Westwood said.

The Englishman’s problem was that in addition to the 10 most obvious events he also wanted to play in the St Jude Classic in Memphis, a tournament he won last year. “That adds up to 11. I would then have to pick between the Players and Memphis, and I don’t think anyone would have wanted that, not the PGA tour or the sponsors.”

The concession to Westwood, who snubbed the PGA Tour in fairly forthright terms, lends weight to the belief that the tectonic plates of global golf are shifting to the disadvantage of an organisation which has long been the richest and most powerful entity in the sport.

Sounds like the change was a logical business decision on the Tour’s part. According to the AP, Westwood prefers to play the Honda Classic (between two WGCs), the Shell Houston Open (the week before The Masters) and the St. Jude Classic, where he’s defending champion.

Meanwhile, McIlroy inflicted another snub on the Tour on Wednesday at the Dubai World Championship, saying he might not even play in The Players. To add insult to injury, he ripped TPC Sawgrass in the process.

“I don’t like the course,” McIlroy told reporters on the eve of the Dubai World Championship, the final tournament of the European Tour season. “That’s one of the reasons I’m undecided whether to play it or not.

“That’s not to say the ‘Players’ isn’t a great event, it’s very prestigious and it would be great to win it one day but it just might not suit my schedule next year.”

Oh, and he’s not a fan of Pete Dye, either.

“I don’t like the course,” McIlroy told reporters on the eve of the Dubai World Championship, the final tournament of the European Tour season. “That’s one of the reasons I’m undecided whether to play it or not.

“That’s not to say the ‘Players’ isn’t a great event, it’s very prestigious and it would be great to win it one day but it just might not suit my schedule next year.”

“He designed that course as well, where the tee boxes are sort of lining you up in the wrong direction. Visually it’s very tough off the tee.

“It makes you feel uncomfortable because it looks like you’ve only got a little bit of fairway to hit but actually once you get up there, it’s a little bit wider. It’s just very demanding visually,” added McIlroy.

“It’s personal preference. Some guys love Sawgrass and some guys don’t like it so much.”

Hey, that’s fair. He’s entitled to his own opinion. And in an increasingly PC world, credit him for his honesty.