Whether you are a Tiger Woods fan or not — and after his fifth Masters victory on Sunday there are few of you in the latter category — you have to admit he moves the needle in a way that few if any other golfers can.
I mean, who else could have won the Masters and had their picture plastered on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? Even non-golf fans were talking about the landmark victory.
Woods’ win did much for golf. And as he said himself, he has likely driven a lot of young people to golf (it was not an immodest comment but an accurate response to a question). Even more will likely be inspired by his latest triumph yet again.
And yet, Woods can do more. Especially for the professional golf tour he calls home.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Verne Lundquist, as usual here, said it best as Tiger Woods walked off the 16th green with a two-stroke lead and one arm back i…
As Woods said Sunday, he will likely be playing fewer tournaments this season, not more. And he only played 18 times in 2017-18. He also said he will be playing in the tournaments he usually plays.
All of that means Woods’ first entry into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was instantly reduced to a very low measure of possibility, if it ever existed at all.
There has been, since the introduction of the Zurich Classic’s new team format in 2017, the hope that Woods might be intrigued by teaming up with one of his buds and finally coming to play in New Orleans. But Woods is an inveterate fellow, typically playing the same events over and over again.
And that is a shame. Because Woods visiting your average PGA Tour stop is not just a tournament but a happening. More than one tournament director knows if Woods ever decides to drop by they will have to make huge additions in concessions, parking, security, everything.
But as the planets in our solar system have their courses, so does Woods. He plays the majors, naturally, and most of the World Golf Championship events, the Tour Championship and FedEx Playoff tourneys and a few others. He almost always plays in Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill, though he didn’t this year because of a neck injury.
But there are others that Woods has bypassed over and over again. Like the Zurich.
There are 46 events on the 2018-19 PGA Tour. Of those, there are 14 that Woods has never played in.
Of those 14, four are played opposite bigger events, like the Barbasol Championship opposite the British Open. No one should expect Woods to chuck a chance at winning another Claret Jug for a spin in the Barbasol. You understand.
Two of the 14 are brand new events — the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and the 3M Open near Minneapolis — tournaments Woods has not had a chance to play. Another tournament, the CJ Cup in China, was just played in October for the second time.
That leaves seven events that Woods could have played on the current tour but never had: the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi; the Mayakoba in Mexico, the RSM Classic, the Sony Open in Hawaii, the Desert Classic (once upon a time the Bob Hope), the Travelers Championship … and the Zurich.
Woods has been an infrequent visitor to New Orleans as far as golf is concerned (I don’t know if he likes Jazz Fest or fancies chargrilled oysters). He played in the 1991 USF&G Junior Classic, as a 15 year old and he conducted a charity golf clinic there in 2000.
Since then, tumbleweeds.
Fore!Kids Foundation CEO Steve Worthy has expressed confidence over the years that he will one day woo Woods to the Zurich. But it almost certainly won’t be this year, especially if Tiger is trimming rather than expanding his schedule.
Of course, the folks in Hartford, Connecticut, who run and support the Travelers are also pining for Tiger. The folks who run and attend the Sony Open have to be saying, “Hey, it’s Hawaii! What do we have to do?”
It’s not what any of these tournaments should do or have not done. It is what Woods should feel obligated to do.
By now, at 43, he should have visited every event on the PGA Tour at least once. Yes, this is a constantly shifting target since tournaments come and go, but the Zurich, the Sony, the Travelers and the Desert Classic have been around for decades. Woods really has no excuse.
Woods playing in these events, even once, would be a happening that would be remembered for years and be a huge windfall to communities like New Orleans or Hartford or Jackson. It may take him out of his comfort zone to take his game to never-visited places, but it is something he has a responsibility to do as the biggest player on the planet.