Golf’s growing purses leading to fewer star sightings

With all the money flowing through the sport, top players like Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson can afford scale back their appearances, writes Steve Elling.

Phil Mickelson said he intends to start following a trend among golf's superstars that sees them be more selective about the tournaments they play. Hunter Martin / Getty Images / AFP
Powered by automated translation

Sometimes, less is more.

Of course, that universally applies to the scoreboard, where the player with the least shots wins every week. But increasingly, that yardstick is being applied to the appearances by deep-pocketed top players, who believe that fewer starts equates to more success.

The world rankings underscore the notion in neon numbers.

One of the richest events in the world is being staged this week, the Accenture Match Play Championships, where $9 million (Dh33m) is on the line and every player is guaranteed a cheque. Yet three of the top four in the world – Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson – stayed home.

With purses in the game continuing to grow, the data for years has skewed toward fewer starts for the game’s elite, and the trend is becoming more pronounced. Steve Stricker has become a part-time player. Woods was healthy for most of 2013, yet played 16 times in official PGA Tour events.

Scott, a former member of the European and US tours, dropped his membership in the former and at times has been downright reclusive. Like Woods, he has played twice in two months in 2014. “It’s not the first time I’ve taken a six-week break at the start of the year,” said Scott, the defending Masters champion, on Tuesday. “I mean, last year, I took 11 weeks off between events.”

Worse, Mickelson intends to scale back his schedule this year, too.

In a sport that feasts on stars, fans are being fed more and more soda crackers.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE