'Murderous' schedule forces Tiger to miss Wentworth

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tiger Woods was not offered a special deal to play in the Cisco World Match Play. The sponsors denied rumours the world No 1 had been offered up to $20m (£14m) for a multi-year contract. "We did not make a financial offer to Tiger Woods," said Mike Cousins, of Cisco Systems Europe. "Not a penny, a cent, an iota or anything else."

Tiger Woods was not offered a special deal to play in the Cisco World Match Play. The sponsors denied rumours the world No 1 had been offered up to $20m (£14m) for a multi-year contract. "We did not make a financial offer to Tiger Woods," said Mike Cousins, of Cisco Systems Europe. "Not a penny, a cent, an iota or anything else."

Given that Woods, beaten in the final at Wentworth by Mark O'Meara two years ago, is managed by Mark McCormack's International Management Group, who run the tournament, money was probably not the problem. Woods simply could not fit the event into his heavy end-of-season schedule.

Starting with the Presidents' Cup later this month, he will be playing in eight consecutive events on four continents. McCormack knows better than anyone that the prestige of his tournament, under threat from the introduction of the World Golf Championships, suffers due to the absence of the Open, US Open and USPGA champion.

"Tiger' schedule is murderous," said McCormack. "There are immense pressures on him to play everywhere but we hope he will be with us in the not too distant future. He enjoyed it two years ago. He recognises the fans in London want to see him and he loves matchplay.

"The only other American we wanted to get was David Duval but David has had a back injury and didn't want to make any ongoing commitments." Bob May, the USPGA runner-up, is the only representative from the States but there is a strong home line-up.

Darren Clarke, going for a matchplay double after beating Woods at La Costa, meets Nick Faldo, who has not played since 1994, in the first round. There is an intriguing battle of the 20-year-olds as Sergio Garcia plays Australian Adam Scott.

The defending champion, Colin Montgomerie, is the top seed and sits out until Friday along with three-time winner Ernie Els, Masters champion Vijay Singh and Lee Westwood.

Clarke was unconcerned about not being one of the top-four seeds, despite the extra workload that it entails. "They have done it off the word rankings," he said. "That's the way it is and the way it should be."

At the Andersen Consulting, Clarke came through the lottery of 18-hole matches before facing Woods over 36 holes, the traditional distance at Wentworth. "You are going to see the better player winning over 36 holes, that's the theory anyway," Clarke said. "I said that before the final at La Costa and it didn't happen."

Clarke has lost his only two previous matches in the event, while Faldo won in 1989 and 1992. "I really respect what Nick has done. I admire his determination and dedication. He has been working as hard as ever so I'll have to be on the top of my game to win."

McCormack criticised the US Tour commissioner, Tim Finchem, saying the Americans unhealthily dominate the International Federation of PGA Tours which run the World Golf Championships. McCormack, who owns the television company TWI, also accused Finchem of controlling what foreign tournaments are seen in America while selling the rights to the US Tour around the world.

McCormack added: "Tim Finchem is doing a fantastic job for the US Tour but not for golf in the rest of the world. The only way for golf to flourish worldwide is for the non-US tours to get together and set up a schedule of super tournaments to give players like Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia an alternative to the US Tour."

There was also a barb for the European LPGA Tour for staging the Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond in the same week as the World Match Play. "Don't know why they let this happen," he said. It is, indeed, an unfortunate clash, but was brought about by the American network NBC, who insisted the event did not clash with their ill-received, tape-delayed coverage of the Olympics.

Comments