By Josh Sens
Tiger Woods is the highest-paid golfer in the world, but not all his cash was created equal.
Take it from Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship for HSBC, who says that Woods should seek his paydays in tournaments that matter instead of playing in “meaningless … money-making opportunities.”
One of the events that matters most to Morgan is the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which Woods has skipped the last two years, opting instead for hefty appearance fees elsewhere in China and beyond.
Speaking in advance of this week’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, Morgan said that HSBC honchos have “had words” with the major tours, urging them to help get golf’s biggest names to appear in golf’s biggest events.
“I do think the tours — and I think the tours are working on this — should make sure that there is respect to the tournaments,” Morgan said. “As opposted to playing in meaningless money-making opportunities around the World Golf Championships.”
He went on: “It’s up to the tours to enforce the criteria to their membership. And we’ve expressed our position to the tours, which is that we know they can’t enforce their players to play and that’s fine, we understand that. But we do think that players need to be respectful of these major events (which) are really at the top and the pinnacle and the lifeblood of the sport. If you’ve got sponsors investing that level of money, the players should respect the calendar.”
The WGC-HSBC Champions is held in November, but the last two times around, Woods has chosen to be somewhere else, carrying out what he referred to as “corporate stuff.”
In 2013, during the same week as the Shanghai event, Woods competed in an exhibition match against Rory McIIroy on China’s Hainan Island before jetting off to play in the Turkish Airlines Open, an event that netted him a reported $3 million appearance fee.
Fat appearance fees have become one of golf’s hot-button issues, with some critics suggesting that the lure of big money in otherwise low-prestige events threatens the health of the game as a whole.
HSBC’s Morgan has been vocal on the subject before.
Last year, when Woods snubbed the Shanghai event in favor of his match with McIlroy, Morgan made his displeasure clear. He even tossed that same “m” word around.
“For a meaningless game in China to take place on a few days before (the WGC) is disappointing,” he said. “This tournament has to be bigger than the individual.”
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