News & Opinion

If Tiger Woods doesn’t play Colonial, will event be a flop?

Tiger Woods 2019 Presidents Cup
Tiger Woods has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to decide whether he will restart his season next week at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

John Hawkins contends that the first tournament in 3 months on the PGA Tour will be a hit with or without Woods, but Mike Purkey counters that a big moment in golf would be much bigger with Woods headlining it

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Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

When the PGA Tour returns to action Thursday at Colonial, how big of a deal should it be if Tiger Woods chooses not to play?

Hawk’s take: This might be the one week when Woods’ presence really isn’t necessary in terms of public interest and the overall spotlight factor. Three months has passed since a PGA Tour event was last staged; Colonial easily could attract the largest television audience to watch a standard tournament in a very long time. The field in Fort Worth already is loaded, headlined by the top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking. With or without Woods, this obviously is going to be a big deal.

Should he be there? I suppose you could make a case that Woods’ participation would add an even greater level of significance to pro golf’s resumption, but let’s not get carried away with this he-owes-it-to-the-game stuff. Tiger Woods has done far more to raise the game’s profile and assure the Tour’s prosperity than everybody else in the field combined. He’s also an independent contractor, and I firmly believe that nobody has the right to tell the best golfers in the world when and where they should play.

Bottom line? Things will be just fine at Colonial without Woods, who hasn’t played this event since he was beaten by David Frost a month after winning the 1997 Masters. We need to grow accustomed to the notion that a 44-year-old man with 15 major titles and a surgically wracked body isn’t a full-time player anymore. Appreciate it when he does show up, and until then, wrap your arms around the restart.

Purk’s take: I totally get that Tiger overwhelmingly has earned the right to play when and where he wants. I don’t need to be lectured about that. But next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, will be a moment bigger than golf, bigger than Tiger. And that’s why he needs to be there.

This is special and symbolic, a return to the game that stands for the best sports has to offer while our nation has endured unspeakable agony during the past 90 days. When the first tee shot is hit next Thursday morning, we can leave our differences outside the ropes and join together as the community of golfers to contribute in our own way to help uplift people who care. And Tiger should be a part of that.

He was so good at the charity match a couple of weeks ago. He played well, and it all looked so easy. Yes, that was a worthy cause, but this is just as important. People need to see Tiger leading – not on the leaderboard but front and center as we make our way back.

If you disagree, you need to ask but one question: Would Jack Nicklaus have played next week?

Damn right he would.

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