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World missing out on WGC events

The four men all appeared to be in their late 20s, and they were a bundle of enthusiasm. They ran from the tee box to the middle of the fairway, then to the green, searching for the best view.

And when Tiger Woods walked by, they never took their eyes off him.

Such moments still happen on the PGA Tour, but not as frequently. Woods has been on tour for 10 years now, and his schedule rarely takes him to new markets except for the U.S. Open or PGA Championship.

And that's why it's a shame the World Golf Championships don't move around the world as they once did.

The American Express Championship used to alternate between the United States (San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis) and Europe (Spain, Ireland and England). The Accenture Match Play Championship tried Australia once, but it was too close to the holidays and all the stars stayed home. The Bridgestone Invitational has left Firestone only once, and that was in 2002 for the Seattle area.

For the next four years, all the "World" Golf Championships will be held in America.

And it really gets strange next year when CA replaces American Express as a title sponsor and the WGC folds into an existing PGA Tour event at Doral. That means Woods essentially will be defending champion at two tournaments in one. This guy's really is good.

The PGA Tour cannot be faulted entirely. There is a business side to running these tournaments, and the tour largely foots the bill. Corporate sponsors who pony up some $12 million a year for a WGC event want the biggest effect, which means TV ratings, and those suffer when the broadcast is not in a prime window for sports.

"We're not entirely happy that all the events are being played in America," European Tour chief George O'Grady said last week. "But they are being played."

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem relies on television when saying the WGC still has a global impact on growing the game. But it's a shame there can't be at least one played overseas every year, or every other year.

And it's not just Woods.

Stewart Cink made new fans the way he chatted away while signing autographs for the British youth. They called out to Vijay Singh as he walked across the practice green, although not enough to get him to stop.

Television has a broad reach, no doubt. But there is no substitution for the chance to see players in person.

October 4, 2006


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