News & Opinion

Does Tiger Woods deserve PGA Tour’s Zozo handout?

Tiger Woods 1st round 2020 Zozo Championship
Tiger Woods fails to capitalize on his local knowledge Thursday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., as he shoots 4-over 76 to stand T-75 among the 77 players who posted scores in the 1st round of the Zozo Championship.

Hawk & Purk debate whether Tiger Woods deserved a favor from the PGA Tour when it moved the Zozo Championship to California's Sherwood Country Club, the site of 5 exhibition victories by Woods

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

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.

Do you have a problem with the PGA Tour moving the Zozo Championship – won by Tiger Woods in Japan last year – to Sherwood Country Club, site of Woods’ year-end invitational from 2000 to 2013?

Hawk’s take: This one comes straight from the Land of Transparent Motives, a thinly veiled favor to Woods, who probably wouldn’t have bothered to defend his title had the event been played anywhere else. Does that make the decision a dumb one? Certainly not. Just because it looks like an accommodation and smells like an accommodation doesn’t make it a breach of competitive integrity. Nobody thinks players born and raised in the Northeast have an advantage at the U.S. Open, which is held quite often in that part of the country.

Woods won his own tournament five times at Sherwood, but the Tiger of 2020 bears minimal resemblance to the beast of the mid-2000s. His mere presence this week means more than how he performs, at least in the eyes of Camp Ponte Vedra. That said, who’s doing whom a favor? Woods’ next triumph will make him the Tour’s all-time victory leader, pushing him past Sam Snead. He won’t get many opportunities cozier than this one.

If Eldrick were still piling up six or seven wins a year, as he did in his lengthy prime, this home game would like a gift sent straight from the office of commissioner Jay Monahan. With his 45th birthday just two months in the distance, however, a patch of familiar turf could prove friendly in Woods’ last start before next month’s Masters. He’s the defending champ there, too. No accommodations necessary.

Purk’s take: When Tiger Woods was asked this week about the distance debate in golf, he said the “genie is out of the bag,” which must be like the “cat’s out of the bottle,” a tragic mixing of metaphors that simply means it’s too late to turn back now.

What else is out of the bag or the bottle is the argument that moving the Zozo Championship from Japan to Sherwood Country Club near Los Angeles isn’t in the least neatly gift-wrapped for Woods. Please don’t say that PGA Tour officials didn’t know that in the 14 years that Woods’ tournament – now called the Hero World Challenge – was held at Sherwood, he won five times and finished runner-up five others.

And please don’t say the Tour didn’t have intelligence that Woods wouldn’t fly to Japan three weeks before the Masters to defend his title at Zozo but he would defend if the event were moved to friendly confines.

Finally, don’t say that Woods is too old for this move to be a competitive advantage. You don’t think he has a leg up at Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, Muirfield Village or Firestone, even if he is 45 years old? The same is true at Sherwood, and nearly every player in the field knows it all too well.

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