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Archive for Monday, August 31, 2009

Woods’ silence tells a bigger story

August 31, 2009

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— Scratch Tiger Woods from the candidates to be the next corporate spokesman for Liberty National Golf Club. At the very end of the week, he was asked one more time what he thought about the place as a future site for PGA Tour events. And one last time, he grinned a bit and deliberately said nothing, speaking volumes.

Who could blame him? It was silly, holding a big playoff event on a cramped, contrived layout. The main reason they held The Barclays here was that it had great views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

What does it say about a course if its best features are about a mile away, and most of them are in another state?

Still, the irony is that Woods, the unspoken outspoken critic of Liberty National, was the person responsible for making the tournament there so great.

It really was fabulous. Woods saved the week for the sponsor, the tour, CBS, course designer Tom Kite and anyone else associated with bringing the storied former Westchester Classic to the far side of the Hudson.

As much as the organizers had been salivating over the backdrop for TV, it was Woods who made people tune in and stay with it. He recovered from his desultory start and overcame whatever ambivalence he might have had about being here.

He made it a drama right to the last hole, when he missed a seven-foot putt that would have put him in a tie for the lead and possibly could have rattled Heath Slocum, who was behind him and saved par to finish one stroke better, at 9 under par.

Woods and caddie Steve Williams thought it would go right and instead it broke left. They were off by the width of the cup. “It happens,” Woods said. “It happens a lot out here. Not too many golf courses that you misread putts that badly.”

Really, though, he has no one to blame but himself for a tournament being held at the brand-new course. Woods had made no secret that he didn’t care for the tournament’s longtime home, Westchester Country Club, either. He stopped playing there in 2003. He didn’t even show up for the first-ever playoff in 2007.

Say what you will about the Westchester membership not wanting to commit to an August date, but the betting here is that had Woods won there and embraced it, the course still would be hosting.

Instead, we have the Tour speaking of “moving it around.” It has chosen such diverse geographical points as Paramus, N.J., Edison, N.J., and Jersey City, and reportedly is considering West Orange. All this for a tournament that Barclays president Bob Diamond extolled this week for its “New Yorkness.”

It’s time they consider moving it back to New York, at least occasionally, and more than the one more year for which The Barclays is contractually obligated at Westchester. How about Meadow Brook, Piping Rock, Glen Oaks, Bethpage Red?

Diamond seems to have ruled out Long Island. “Bethpage Black is tough to get to. Shinnecock is tough to get to if you’re a Manhattan person,” he said.

I might be wrong, but I seem to recall that a few people managed to make it out to those courses for U.S. Opens. And if others had trouble getting in, it was because tickets were sold out.

Anyway, we saw Sunday that no matter where they hold this event, they had better make sure that Woods is there.

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