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Players unhappy about Americanisation of WGC events

Stuart Appleby probably had the best take on the World Golf Championships.

It's official that the Accenture Match Play Championship is moving from La Costa in southern California to Tucson, Arizona next year, and with the other two WGC events slated for Akron, Ohio and Miami, the series will not leave the country.

"We should call them the U.S. Golf Championships," he said after hearing that the three official WGC events will be played in the United States next year and for several years thereafter. "If they're going to be called world events, 50 percent need to be played overseas. There's no doubt America has the biggest corporate dollars in the world to spend on golf, but marketing wise they need to watch the terminology they use."

The leading non-American players almost unanimously believe that this is not what the series, created in 1999 with a stated mission to display the world's best golfers globally, was meant to be.

But with U.S. television paying most of the freight, that's what it has come to. The WGC events officially are run by the International Federation of PGA Tours, which is nothing more than a front for the PGA Tour. And the PGA Tour does what it wants because it can.

Commissioner Tim Finchem has changed his tune over the years and now says that it doesn't matter where the events are played, because television can beam them to all corners of the globe, but most international players find this argument hollow.

Match Play Championship winner Geoff Ogilvy agrees with his fellow Australian Appleby.

"I don't have anything good to say about it," he said, when asked what he thought of the events being played only in the U.S. "World Golf Championships suggests they're going to be played everywhere, and they tend not to be played in many places. I just wish they would try to take them around the world. It doesn't have to be every one, but (now and then) would be nice."

Davis Love III, who lost to Ogilvy in Sunday's final, doesn't agree.

"I like them staying closer to home," said Love, who lives in Sea Island, Georgia. "If I lived in South Africa or London, I would like to see them move around a bit more. But as a long-time (PGA Tour) board member, I know we go where the sponsors want to go and TV wants us to go."

Of course, the international players can complain all they want, but the only way they will get the Tour to take notice is by boycotting the WGC events. Sergio Garcia skipped the Match Play this year, and Ernie Els the previous two years, but that was due more to scheduling than anything.

A mass boycott is unlikely, though, because in the end most players will do what's best for themselves, and it's not usually in their best interest to skip WGC events with big money and world ranking points up for grabs.

 

 




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