May
12
2011
Westwood Tires of Players’ Abuse
By Conor Nagle under General

Tiring of being reminded constantly how he won’t be missed (…because nobody likes you, anyway, and you’re not the real World Number One; my dad is bigger than your dad; you smell) this week, or how his absence is an “affront to the championship”, Lee Westwood decided to set the record straight regarding his decision to skip this week’s fourth most prestigious American tournament (aside from the WGCs and the US Amateur, obviously) Tuesday evening on Twitter.

Responding to a comment made on the Golf Channel’s official account, he wrote:

“@GolfChannel it’s a great tournament and I’d have been there if I’d been allowed an invite the week before to prepare. End of.”

A pretty succinct resolution to the debate, don’t you think? If not, try turning to Chubby Chandler for a more detailed explanation of the the logic underpinning the decision:

“It’s been a whole bunch of cock-ups. The PGA Tour told us they could play 12 tournaments and then two months later said they could only play 10, whereas (last year) Lee played 11 and was going to play 12… Definitely here (in America) it is more important than it is with Europeans – it’s not the fifth major by any stretch…

“He’d rather win a World Golf Championship than the Players Championship, if that is his feeling, that’s his feeling and whether Johnny Miller or Brandel Chamblee or anyone else thinks differently, that’s fine. There is no vendetta or hidden agenda, we aren’t trying to prove a point.”

Brandel Chamblee’s comments, though largely irrelevent at this stage of the synopsis, are worth returning to, if only to highlight their spectacular misapplication of the term ‘irony’ (a pet peeve of mine, along with people who turn all their sentences up at the end as if they’re questions):

“They are making a mistake,” said Chamblee. “It’s ironic both players have the same manager. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence.”

The tone of the criticism this week’s absentees have been forced to endure has been dishearteningly blinkered, based — and here I wander dangerously close to Paul Casey territory– on an anachronistic and insular view of golfing world.

Here you have two prominent international players who have, for one reason or another, decided not to play in the PGA Tour’s flagship event. It’s not a major and they’re not Tour members. Why exactly should they be compelled, against their will, to raise the profile and strengthen the field of a tournament with which they have only a tangential association?

From a European perspective, The Players’ isn’t even the most prestigious showpiece tournament. That honour would be extended to the PGA Championship at Wentworth (a fact underscored by this recent video from GOLF.com), a tournament largely ignored by American players and fans alike.

Conor