Hate To Be Rude: Disney is a big money grab

Webb Simpson and Luke Donald

Webb Simpson and Luke Donald

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Jeff Rude’s “I Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday, the same day as his video show of the same name occasionally does.

• • •

You want to know what this week on the PGA Tour is all about? Open your wallet and look inside. Check your savings account balance and multiple by whatever. Turn on CNBC and check the ticker.

The week is all about ca$h.

Big money and not as big.

Hitting the green doesn’t mean you’re about to putt.

Bonuses, history, full-time jobs and dreams are on the line at the wordy-but-worthy Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World Resort, where marketeers tell us dreams are supposed to come true.

Big money, as in the $6 million range. Money leader Webb Simpson and No. 2 Luke Donald, $363,029 behind, entered the season’s final tournament in hopes of nailing down the prestigious money title, named after Arnold Palmer.

Then there’s not-as-big money, as in the $650,000 range. Rookie Bobby Gates and James Driscoll, at the moment, occupy the last two exempt spots for next year, at Nos. 124-125, respectively, and are paired together during the first two rounds. The non-exempt player just behind is veteran Billy Mayfair at No. 127; he’s $12,367 behind Driscoll’s $645,835.

There’s also million-dollar sideshow money. Bill Lunde, No. 126 in earnings but exempt next year by virtue of 2010 victory, is in great position to win the $1 million Kodak Challenge, a season-long series rewarding the player with the lowest cumulative score on his best 18 of 30 designated holes.

Lunde, working in golf course sales while out of competitive golf only a few years ago, leads Cameron Tringale by two strokes. That means Tringale will need to make an unlikely eagle on the 485-yard, par-4 17th hole on the Magnolia Course to force a playoff. While Tringale has his fantasy set on a hole-out, Lunde says he’s thinking about buying a house in Las Vegas, where he lives, and a sports car.

And, oh, yes: there’s trophy money. The winner of the tournament will bag $846,000.

Because water flows downhill, we’ll focus on the top. If you’re tracking at home, consider that the only way World No. 1 Donald will have a chance to pass Simpson is to finish no worse than a two-way tie for second, worth $413,600.

If Donald wins the first prize, Simpson would have to finish second alone ($507,600) to stay on top. If Donald finishes second alone, Simpson would need eighth place or better to stay ahead. And if Donald delivers a T-2, Simpson would need at least a four-way tie for 21st.

Midterm exam comes Friday night.

And you thought you were done crunching numbers in the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship?

As it happened, Donald and Simpson battled for the $10 million Cup bonus there, only to fall slightly shy of winner Bill Haas. Now they’re back at it, each having added this event to his schedule, each giving the Disney tournament its biggest boost since Tiger Woods used to play it in his former hometown.

Simpson has a simple strategy: Try not to think about what Donald is doing. It won’t be all that easy since the two are paired together the first two rounds.

“My No. 1 goal/challenge will be to not get too involved in what he’s doing,” Simpson said. Then he added this piece of wisdom: Some players’ games used to suffer when they paid too much attention to what Woods was doing in a tournament instead of focusing on their own games.

Globetrotter Donald, meanwhile, is motivated by a quest to become the first player to lead earnings on the PGA and European tours.

For certain, this will be a battle between two top-10 machines (Donald leads with 13, Simpson has 11) who double as short-game wizards. Simpson leads the Tour in the all-around category and is 15th in scrambling. Donald is second in putting (strokes gained) and in the top 10 in scrambling and sand saves.

The good news for Donald is this: Regardless, he stacks up as world Player of the Year.

Rookie William McGirt is No. 138 on the money list. He figures he needs to finish in the top 7 to crack the top 125. But while he’s lacking cash at the moment to secure a full-time 2012 Tour card, he doesn’t lack imagination or marketing savvy.

“Who knows?” he said of this final week of the official season. “It’s Disney. Magic happens here.”

Roll the cameras.

Being defending champion has little advantages that can boost the mood. Robert Garrigus certainly noticed at Disney.

“I’ve never seen my face on anything before,” the bomber said. “It’s kind of ugly, but it’s kind of neat to have your face on the room keys and a couple of billboards.”

What’s more, for a chance, Garrigus doesn’t hit the top-125 cut line. He knows that feeling too well.

“It’s kind of like knowing you might be the CEO of a company, and if you don’t play well, you’re going to be the janitor,” he said.

Darren Clarke says he has a “huge love-hate relationship” with golf. I ask, besides those who don’t play it, who doesn’t?

Gerry McIlroy says his son Rory has lost his “puppy fat.” Hmmm. The kid won the U.S. Open by eight lengths. Will be interesting to see the puppy’s bite once he becomes more of a pit bull.

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