The organisers of the US Open's main warm-up tournament were yesterday forced to reverse their snub of Lee Westwood after it was claimed they were denying the Englishman a starting place because of a tiny logo on his shirt.
The world No 4 is not a member of the PGA Tour and has to rely on invites for US events which are not majors or do not fall under the World Golf Championship umbrella. Westwood applied for a spot in Memphis but was initially rejected. Late on Tuesday, the tournament director of the St Jude Classic explained the reason why. "One of his sponsors gives us a little concern," so Phil Cannon told Golf Week. "Brown trucks aren't welcome on site."
Cannon was referring to the delivery service logo worn by the 37-year-old. UPS are FedEx's main rivals, which supposedly justified Westwood's exclusion. FedEx's headquarters adjoin the Southwind course where the Classic takes place and used to be the event's main sponsors until they took over endorsing the Tour's end-of-season play-offs.
But by yesterday, the organisers had changed the tune. Westwood would be accommodated, after all. "He's happy and we're happy," said Cannon. "Our friends at FedEx want to make it clear they have no say in the matter and they would welcome Lee in the field. So we'll call an end to this little hiccup and go on."
Westwood was understandably angry. In the last three majors he has finished third, third, and second and each time has played the week before. He would have been forgiven for suspecting it was part of a ploy to persuade him to rejoin the PGA Tour. Although Westwood has held an American card in the past he feels unable to satisfy the 15-event criterion, with two children in school in his home town of Worksop.
"I'm at a standard where I can play pretty much where I want, when I want," said Westwood, from the Quail Hollow Championship. "That's how it is this year – apart from one event."
What will not have helped his mood any is the identity of one of the players who was invited instead from the outset. John Daly is ranked 445th in the world and has had multiple bans for bringing the game into disrepute. At last year's St Jude Classic, Daly felt obliged to obtain a restraining order on an ex-wife to stop her from confronting him during the event.Reuse content