Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance are among the 20 players competing for a first prize of nearly pounds 350,000 in the Johnnie Walker World Championship starting tomorrow at Tryall, Jamaica. Their hopes of winning the pre-Christmas jackpot are enhanced by the fact that seven of the world's top 12 players are not taking part.
Anybody unaware of the riches on offer in golf would find it hard to believe that a player could turn down the chance of a week of Caribbean sunshine when even last place carries a pounds 35,000 prize. However, that there are now so many end-of-season pay days that another one, it seems, does not have sufficient allure.
Corey Pavin, for instance, has, in the two months since the American tour ended, been handed cheques for pounds 1m in South Africa, pounds 225,000 in Hawaii and pounds 240,000 in California. Pavin did not even win two of those events, Ben Crenshaw taking home pounds 400,000 from the two-day Grand Slam of and Fred Couples pounds 270,000 from the one-day Skins game.
Barry Lane, David Frost, Mark McCumber and Masahiro Kuramoto will care little that they are not in the Jamaica line-up either. At the end of this month they will be in Arizona competing for another million-dollar first prize.
The Johnnie Walker event aims to bring together all the world's best golfers for an end-of-season showdown. The cast this time barely approaches that billing: Greg Norman and Nick Price, the world No 1 and No 2, are also among the absentees, and of the four 1995 major championship winners only the Open champion, John Daly, is present.
The American hardly distinguished himself the last time he played at Tryall. That was in 1991, the year he won the US PGA, and he was disqualified for signing for a wrong score. He still left the Caribbean $50,000 richer.
The event's sponsors, Johnnie Walker, are pulling out after this year, believing that five years is enough support for a championship which draws players from all over the globe, but not always the ones they wanted.
Faldo, winner in 1992 and joint runner-up behind Ernie Els last December, will be the focus of media attention following the break-up of his second marriage. Montgomerie, meanwhile, 11th out of 12 in the Million Dollar Challenge a fortnight ago, will be trying to find a higher note on which to end a season in which he became Europe's No 1 for the third year running.Reuse content