In the wake of the collapse of the International and the rise of Tiger’s new Washington, D.C. tournament, a lot has been written about the importance of Woods’ presence to a tournament. But an article in the New York Times offers an interesting, if bizarre twist:
PGA Tour stops do not offer players appearance fees, so tournament directors try to lure Woods by offering luxurious courtesy cars and fishing excursions, or by leaving personal messages on an iPod.
In telephone interviews with tournament directors, many said they would not drop their current charity beneficiary and shift the funds to Woods’s foundation in an effort to get him to play in their tournament, although Kaplan (Dave Kaplan, director of the AT&T Classic, where Woods has not played since 1998) said, “I hadn’t thought about that.”
“It seems to make sense, but probably not,” said Kaplan, when asked if it was a possibility. “We have supported the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta since 1982 and donated about $13 million for various things they need and do. If you were going to,” he said of switching beneficiaries, “you’d likely have to give the entire amount generated for the tournament. Our tournament is in the Atlanta region, and the better part of the money stays here.”
Now in no way does the reporter suggest that the idea came from Woods or his people. But I have to ask: Where did such a notion come from? What would cause a reporter to come up with the idea that to get Tiger you might need to donate to his foundation? And why would you ask such a question of tournament directors?
Note that reporter Damon Hack asked Kaplan about it, and when Kaplan demurred, Hack pressed the issue by asking if it wasn’t at least a possibility.
There’s something about the tone of this that makes it think that the line of questioning was sparked by a rumor—or at least a whispering. But that has to be all it is. I can’t—even in my most Oliver Stone moment—imagine Woods or his team trying to extort money from a tournament. Not even to benefit his foundation.