Colin Bryden

How to buy the best

2010-09-15 08:54
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden

It might not buy happiness – although I would like to be tested on that theory – but money can buy the world’s best golfers.
 
It takes a lot of money, mind you. The $200 000 guarantee, first class air tickets and a week of luxury – oh, and four rounds of golf – isn’t enough to get the best of the best to Sun City.
 
The lure of $10 million does it, though, which is the prize awaiting the eventual winner of the FedEx Cup.
 
For three successive weeks, the world’s leading golfers have competed in the play-offs which will culminate in next week’s Tour Championship, all chasing the eight-figure bonus.
 
It’s great for the players but it is an artificial ruse, which relies on a hopelessly skewed points system to make sure the top players turn up.
 
All year long, players earn points based on their performances in tournaments – 500 points for a win in a regular Tour event and 600 for a win in a Major, with diminishing points according to placings in each event.
 
Then they get to the playoffs – and suddenly a win is worth 2 500 points.
 
Thus Ernie Els, having led the order of merit for most of the year, dropped down to eighth place because he had a mediocre playoff campaign, while Charlie Hoffman jumped from 77th at the end of the regular season to third, simply because he won one event at the right time.
 
That puts Hoffman in line for the ten million because the points are reset for the Tour Championship so that anyone in the top five who wins the finale will also win the FedEx Cup. Els can still win the grand prize but will have to win in Atlanta and hope the current top three don’t finish too strongly.
 
The Tour came up with the current formula to avoid the problem of leading players not turning up after the completion of the Majors, thus reducing television ratings and the lure for sponsors.
 
Much was made last weekend of the “drama” of which 30 players would qualify for the Tour Championship. Ian Poulter had a horrible double bogey and dropped out of contention late in the day, which seemed a bit sad for him. Except that he still won $150 000 for the tournament and can console himself by counting the $2 million plus that he has earned on the US Tour alone this year.
 
All of the players chasing the $10 million next week are already millionaires many times over so they aren’t exactly desperate for the money.
 
The US PGA Tour may have got the attention of their top players but they haven’t added to the sport’s credibility.
 
By the way, when the last census was carried out in the US, in 2008, the median annual family income was just over $52 000, less than half the amount that will be added to the earnings of the player who finishes last next week.
 
Nice work if you can get it.

Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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