Less than two weeks after the Ryder Cup, a number of members from both the American and European teams — headlined by Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood – will participate in a new $5.3 million unofficial matchplay event in Turkey, according to The Telegraph‘s James Corrigan:
Woods, who celebrated his third win in seven starts on Sunday, is the main draw for the $5.3 million Turkish Airways World Golf Finals on the Antalya coast, which also involves Justin Rose. It is understood that as part of a three-year commitment Woods has forged a lucrative “relationship” with the country’s national airline.
By next year the event intends to offer “the richest first prize in golf” – a mooted $2.5 million – and this cast-list shows the elite are interested in signing up for four days which will remind of the first World Matchplay Championship founded by Mark McCormack.
The winner will receive $1.5 million, the runner-up will collect $1 million, while seventh and eighth will have to make do with $300,000. Ostensibly, the make-up was decided on ranking points, with Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson completing the garlanded field.
Um, when do they start taking media credential requests? Sign me up, please. But I digress. The eight players will consist of Tiger, Webb, Mahan, Luke, Rory, Lee, Charl and Rose.
The event will take place from Tuesday to Friday, so the weekend coverage of the Portuguese Masters and the Frys.Com Open will not be overshadowed. And from next year the European Tour will include a Turkish Open in April.
As it bids for the 2020 Olympics, Turkey is determined to prove its ability to host big sporting occasions and, indeed, the biggest sporting superstars. Golf will be reintroduced at the Olympics in 2016 and Woods is an influential figure to have on side.
Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN that the details on the deal are still being worked out, and for now, it’s just a one-year commitment.
“We’ve been in discussions for a couple of months. It’s not finalized but we’re trying to work toward that end. At this point, Tiger’s schedule is pretty fluid. We’re looking at this year and seeing if the event is absolutely going to happen. Beyond this year, we don’t know what the dates are for the Turkey event. Tiger had an enjoyable time at the Frys last year (where he tied for 30th). But I’m just looking at this year for right now.”
While Tiger didn’t talk specifically about traveling to Turkey, he discussed playing in new tournaments and places, like The Greenbrier in West Virginia this week.
“It’s exciting to go to other places in the world that I have never been,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve traveled all around the world but I’ve never been to West Virginia, so this is new to me. It’s exciting. I’ve been fortunate to have gone to a lot of states and a lot of different countries on my 17 years out here and this is new. So not too many times you get to say it’s new in the United States, but this is new for me.”
Me too. Something Tiger and I have in common. Let’s be friends, Tig!
(Getty Images/Scott Halleran)