Woods Steps Up For The Tour

I’ve given Tiger (and others) a lot of grief over the past couple of years for his selective playing schedule, and for leaving a good many tournaments in the lurch by making it clear that he will never, ever show up at certain venues. The Tour is only as healthy as the “season,” and the “season” is the sum of the individual tournaments. Each gives context to the others.

But a recent story in GolfWeek makes me think that Tiger really does understand his (perhaps unwanted) role in the health of the tour.

With sponsors under fire from the political class in Washington and the global economy still roiling, Finchem asked Woods if he would consider hosting an outing comprised of influential private sector leaders whose companies underwrite Tour events. Woods delivered on Monday when a dozen CEOs, all of companies that are on board as tournament sponsors for 2010, joined him for breakfast and a clinic at his home course, Isleworth Country Club in nearby Windermere.

“We’re in a time when we need to do whatever we can to help the Tour,” Woods told GolfDigest.com Thursday after shooting a 2-under 68 in defense of his title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “The commissioner asked me if I would be willing to do that, and I said, ‘Sure.’ You know, it was good for everybody.

“We had a great time; it was a great group of guys.”

Kudos to Tiger.

There’s no word on who was there.  But Woods talked to them, gave a 30 minute clinic, and then he, Chris DiMarco, Ryuji Imada and Nick O’Hern played with the high rollers.

I hope that the event was not entirely composed of CEOs whose tournaments are already locks for sponsorship. It’s the ones on the margin that he should be working.

It’s perhaps telling that the CEO shindig was held the week of the Palmer Invitational, for perhaps no one was more instrumental in building the relationship between business and the Tour than Arnold Palmer.

In a related story, Padraig Harrington has expressed some doubt that anyone will be able to recreate the Palmer Magic:

I think Arnold Palmer gave so much of himself to the people, and he was out there, and players, all sports people, are protected more because there’s more issues going on,” Harrington said. “Now sports people tend to be a bit more aloof and detached, maybe because it’s bigger hype, bigger stage to be on, maybe it’s because of the way society has moved. I can’t give you those answers. But it is a different era, and I don’t know if it will ever happen again. Maybe it will.

I think Harrington is wrong about this. If the players are aloof and detached, it’s because they choose to be that way. There is no lack of opportunities for them to be a part of the communities in which they play.

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