Aug
31
2011
Tiger: I’m Glad Nepotism and Cronyism Are Alive and Well in Pro Golf
By Stephanie Wei under Presidents Cup

BREAKING: Tiger pulls off non-awkward high-five

For those who don’t have a sense of humor, I’m just kidding. Tiger Woods obviously didn’t say that.

On Wednesday before teeing off at the Notah Begay Challenge, a charity event hosted by his longtime college pal, Tiger said “they wanted me on the (Presidents Cup) team and I’m honored.” Asked if he felt he deserved to be picked, Woods nodded, according to the AP.

On Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” on Wednesday, co-host Gary Williams asked Tiger, who appeared on the show with Begay, to confirm reports that Captain Fred Couples had already told him he was on the team. Tiger replied curtly, “Yes.”

*Brief awkward pause, followed with awkward laugh.*

Added Tiger: “Want me to elaborate? Yes.”

Paired with LPGA player Suzann Pettersen in the best-ball format at the Begay Challenge held at Turning Stone Resort, Tiger watched his partner put on quite a clinic and carry him on the duo’s way to a seven-under 65, good enough for third place. Afterward, Woods tweeted:

ESPN.com’s Bob Harig, who was at the Begay Challenge today, explains why Tiger was given a spot on the Presidents Cup team:

Say what you want about Couples’ controversial decision to add Woods to the American team, despite the golfers’ lack of form. Plenty of valid arguments have ensued, including whether other players are more deserving, and whether the event is a true competition or just an exhibition.

But there is no disputing the event will be better because Woods is there, just as last year’s Ryder Cup in Wales was better because Woods participated. An event that, frankly, wouldn’t matter much will have significance, if for no other reason than to see if Woods prospers or falters.

“It doesn’t matter where he’s playing, whether it’s a one-day event like this, a PGA Tour event, Presidents Cup,” Begay said. “The Australian Masters [in 2009] invested $3 million in him and they had something like $20 million in economic activity. The guy is a revenue generator.

“He heightens awareness, he increases the gate. It’s like [Michael] Jordan. When Jordan showed up, you sold out. In these particular events, there is no ceiling and I think it’s great. It’s the reason why he is who he is.”

Begay is absolutely right. I understand there are things like ratings and money that factor into such decisions. If I’m a sponsor, of course I want Tiger to be there — he moves the needle. But it doesn’t mean I think it’s “right.” And I don’t necessarily blame Couples (even though I did in my instant reaction piece), who, let’s be real, probably got a call from the powers-that-be strongly suggesting he use one of his two picks on Tiger (not that he may not have, anyway, since the two are pals).

Wait, do we know yet if Michael Jordan has been named the team mascot an assistant captain for the second Presidents Cup in a row?

(AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)