Awtrey met with the top 16 players in the current standings yesterday at Medinah, the venue for tomorrow's USPGA Championship. Also present were the US team captain, Ben Crenshaw, and the PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Finchem.
"None of the players were interested in being paid for their participation in the Ryder Cup," Awtrey said. "There is no issue between the PGA and the players. It was a very positive meeting and we have agreed to sit down and talk about the players being involved in charitable donations. None of the details have been worked out. The players understand where the money is going and it is not that the PGA is doing anything that isn't right. We are a charity supporting the game of golf and its growth and the players are committed to that. Now it is time for them to focus on the Ryder Cup and winning the Ryder Cup."
The latest twist smacks of player power. Mark O'Meara has spoken out on the subject several times, going back prior to the 1997 match at Valderrama, and the issue was ignited recently by David Duval's comments in an American magazine which also reported that the PGA of America were set to make profits of almost $18m (pounds 11.5m) for September's match in Boston.
Prior to the meeting yesterday neither Tiger Woods nor Duval, who claimed he has been misquoted, would rule out a possible boycott in the future. "Will players get fed up to the point where they will not play? I presume that could be a `yes'," said Woods. "Personally, I would give all of it to charity."
Duval stated: "I never said, or intended to say, I should get paid to play in the Ryder Cup. I simply believe we should get money to take back to our community."
Woods went further to virtually dismiss the sport's leading event. "It is an exhibition," Woods said. "The Ryder Cup is not going to make or break my career."
The views of the world's top two players contrasted starkly with those of Lee Westwood. The 26-year-old from Worksop's case for maintaining the status quo was unequivocal. "If people started getting paid it would taint the Ryder Cup," Westwood said. "I don't think it should be about money. When I started watching Nick Faldo, Seve and Woosie in the Ryder Cup in the mid-80s, the last thing on their minds was money," Westwood added. "They were playing for the honour of representing their country and their continent."
While Woods is concerned that a player who cannot play in Ohio through injury will get nothing, all the Ryder Cup players will qualify for the World Championship event in a fortnight where the last place prize is $25,000. Westwood said: "That is like we are already being paid to play in the Ryder Cup. We have the opportunity to play for money 51 weeks of the year. To have one week playing for pride and honour is not too much to ask. The knock-on effect from an exciting Ryder Cup is good for the game. I understand when Bernhard Langer and Thomas Bjorn say they would like see more money from the Ryder Cups in Europe go to the continental PGAs and well as the British PGA but I don't have a problem with people making money from the Ryder Cup as long as it goes to good causes. I'd like to see the Golf Foundation benefit and schemes for inner city golf."Reuse content