News - Money -- the essential link

There's more to green than just the green

Homage was paid last week to golf's unique heritage at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, a museum to America's greatest amateur, Bobby Jones.
Funny, the top 29 money-winners competing for a $5 million purse at the home of a player who would never have considered accepting cash for a win. It wasn't done in those days.
Those days are gone.
For duffers, golf is mostly about getting outdoors and admiring the view. For the pros, golf is about money. And more money.
It's hardly golf's dirty little secret. Money was prominently on the lips of three of golf's greatest players as they accepted the inaugural Payne Stewart Award at East Lake last Wednesday. The award recognizes the player who best represents the high standards of the game's traditions. In a nutshell, that means playing by the rules — among them, penalizing yourself if, say, a sudden gust of wind should inadvertently move your ball.
The award was launched in the most prestigious way possible by bestowing it upon Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus simultaneously (Nicklaus was absent, honoring a previous commitment). But on tape and in person, the message from Nelson, Palmer and Nicklaus was clear: Be good to the people who foot the bill. They meant the sponsors whose catered, air-conditioned tents block your view of the green. These companies are forking out larger and larger purses, thanks to Tiger Woods.
The other players aren't jealous anymore. They were annoyed when the Tiger phenomenon began, but now they're so amazed by his feats, they'll bring him up in interviews even when they aren't asked. As Paul Azinger philosophized the other day, "I had hoped that I'd be considered the best player in the game. I thought I could be that good. Now there's no hope. It's less of a burden."
Says the young man who lifted that burden, "Even when I was a little boy playing junior golf I have always loved playing the hardest golf courses because I think that is when it is the most challenging. ... I like to go out there and grind away knowing that par is a good score."
Woods was nothing if not grinding away on Sunday, saving disastrous shots time and again. Alas, he didn't save enough of them; He finished second, worth $540,000.
"I worked my butt off just to give myself a chance. It wasn't pretty." Nevertheless, when asked to characterize his year, Woods offered, "Not bad."
He stands at $9,030,821 for the year. Next week, at Spain's Valderrama Golf Club, he can become the first player in the history of the game to win $10 million.
Should he thank the sponsors? Or should they thank him.
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