WGC event at Doral needs pro-am

The three World Golf Championships, such as the WGC-CA Championship this week at Doral, would be better served if the world’s best players participated in a Wednesday pro-am. That’s particularly true in a trying economy.

A pro-am would add considerable value for the title sponsor and wouldn’t be too much to ask of players competing in a no-cut, guaranteed-pay tournament that gives out $8.5 million in total prize money and $1.4 million to the winner of the 68-man field.

Players can’t expect the Tour to keep pulling rabbits out of a hat in securing title sponsors, particularly WGC types that probably dole out more than $10 million annually. Word is this week’s sponsor, CA, probably won’t renew after this year. A pro-am, though, would allow CA or the next sponsor to invite 36 or 48 of its best customers to mix with the best players in the world.

Pro-ams are about relationship building, a Tour bedrock. Not having a pro-am means players can come to the event later than normal. For instance, Phil Mickelson, a guy who gets it and gives back to fans as much as anybody else, wasn’t expected to arrive at Doral until Wednesday night.

Why? The simple answer is because he can. Had there been a pro-am, he would have been there Wednesday and helped the Tour by very possibly playing with the CA chairman and two of his biggest partners.

Pro-ams also add entertainment value. A sprinkling of celebrities in a pro-am helps create buzz, vital particularly in a glitzy city such as Miami.

As longtime Tour ambassador Peter Jacobsen has said for years, “Sunday isn’t the most important day on Tour for business. Wednesday is.”

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