Tiger playing for appearance money? No way!

Tiger Woods during the pro-am event at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club prior to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

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News item: Tiger Woods concedes that he is playing in Abu Dhabi and not San Diego because appearance money was made available.

Reaction: What, people thought perhaps that Woods had gone to Abu Dhabi for the puri bhaji? Or to see if he could enroll at Abu Dhabi University to try and finally finish up that college degree? Or because he’s thinking of giving falconry a try?

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News item: Some people are incensed that the European PGA Tour would stand by and allow appearance money.

Reaction: We apparently are living among a lot of Captain Louis Renaults. As in, “I’m shocked . . . shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” You think Arnie, Jack, and Gary traveled the world 50 years ago simply because they wanted to be termed “golf ambassadors”?

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News item: Then there are those who think it is time for the PGA Tour to get into a fair fight and allow its tournament directors to hand over appearance fees.

Reaction: Please. Remind yourself this: the European PGA Tour pays appearance fees because it has to. Then remember this: all those zillions dished out in appearance fees have allowed the European PGA Tour to settle in as the second-best tour in the world – well behind the American PGA Tour.

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Question: But shouldn’t the PGA Tour in the U.S. be concerned?

Answer: The PGA Tour in the U.S. should be concerned when good American players start making Europe their No. 1 choice over America. Call us when that happens for the first time. In the meantime, dozens and dozens of Europeans, South Africans, Aussies, and Asians make the U.S. tour their No. 1 goal, with Europe a very nice backup.

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News item: Jose Maria Olazabal said he will make his two captain’s picks Aug. 27, the day after the PGA Tour’s first playoff tournament, The Barclays, ends.

Reaction: Olazabal merely validated the belief that he’s going to be a brilliant captain for the Europeans. His decision was built upon nothing but respect for his fellow competitors and the global game, something Colin Montgomerie (shock of shocks, we know) was totally without in 2010. Back then, Montgomerie had four leading contenders (Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose) for his captain's picks, and each had either just started or was about to start his fourth round in The Barclays. Monty charged ahead (surprise) on his own timetable, named Donald and Harrington, and pretty much ruined that final-round chance for victory for any of his fellow Europeans. You could argue he made the right picks, yes; but he handled it poorly. Fortunately, Olazabal has way more dignity and character.

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As an aside: By the way, have you glanced at the current Ryder Cup standings?

Response: Certainly, and I’m wondering which potential singles match gets the heart pumping more rapidly: Joost Luiten vs. Johnson Wagner? Or Paul Lawrie vs. Harrison Frazar? And I’m thinking the fact that Lawrie, last seen in 1999 accepting a gift-wrapped Claret Jug from Jean Van de Velde, is even in the mix is proof that it’s borderline absurd to publish the standings in January.

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Thought: Back to Tiger. To some, it was at least a positive sign that he confirmed he had gone to Abu Dhabi for the appearance money. Will he make this standard practice; you know, revealing things?

Hold that thought: It’s laughable when you are said to “reveal” things that are already known, but all right then; it seemed to work. So maybe he’ll 'fess up and say he never actually drove a Buick.

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Circling back: Hey, I read that Tim Tebow “might” play in the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. How’d that work out?

Welcome to 2012: It’s the way things are done these days, for good or bad. Can’t stay these tweeters and bloggers weren’t on the mark, because reporting that Tebow “might play” is akin to he “might not play.” And guess what? He didn’t play. So these folks who wrote it can massage their consciences and say they were correct.

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Just wondering: If the PGA Tour did allow for appearance fees to whomever tournament directors wanted, how would that invite list unfold?

Best guess: Tiger would be tops, Phil Mickelson a close second, just ahead of John Daly, former President Bill Clinton, Rory McIlroy, Justin Timberlake, Fred Couples, David Feherty and George Lopez. Next would be Greg Norman, Ernie Els, George Clooney and Michael Jordan. Of course, if Arnold agreed, he’d be at the top and everyone would move down one notch and take a little less.

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Hey, wait a minute: What about Martin Kaymer? He used to be No. 1.

Just guessing: He’d rank well down the list, just behind Samuel L. Jackson, but one ahead of Kevin Sutherland.

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Question: What are you saying?

Answer: Calm the hysteria about the need for appearance fees, is all. There’s a list shorter than the putt Doug Sanders whiffed at the 1970 Open Championship of players who “move the needle,” as they say, so rethink this call to overhaul the PGA Tour so that it looks more like the European model.

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