Date: November 20, 2013
Author: Mike Clayton / Royal Melbourne Golf Club

World Cup loses its way

The World Cup, originally known as The Canada Cup, was a once great event. Sam Snead and Ben Hogan played in 1956 for America at Wentworth in England. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer teamed up with some regularity and Nicklaus later played with Lee Trevino in 1971 and Johnny Miller in 1973 with predictable results. No one was going to beat either of those pairs. Famously Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle won in 1959 at this week s venue, Royal Melbourne and by general consensus kicked off a boom in the local game. Thomson will no doubt be here observing this week but sadly without the aging Nagle, the games oldest living major champion. Over the years the event lost its way. Nicklaus stopped playing. The prize money was barely better than appalling and in something hardly uncommon in the professional game organizers found brilliant reasons to go to some pretty ordinary golf courses. This week we will watch some very fine golfers. Adam Scott on the third leg of his triumphant homecoming. Matt Kucher has four more goes at playing the 18th hole, the hole that cost him in the end last week. He will be sure to stay out of Billy Dunk s island this time around. Graeme McDowell, a US Open champion is here and there are a couple of interesting young and emerging players, Thorbjorn Olsen from Denmark and Victor Dubuisson from France. The Senior Tour bound Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiminez returns to Royal Melbourne, having played here in the 1991 Australian Open when he was much less famous. It occurred to very few back then that he would turn into such a magnificent and durable player. Despite that the field this week may be the weakest ever to play for eight million dollars. To Hogan and Snead that would have been an unimaginable amount and even Nicklaus and Miller could only have dreamed of such riches in a single week. At Nicklaus peak in the early 1970s eight million dollars was almost twenty tournaments worth of prize money- and rarely did he play twenty tournaments a year. The game changed when Tiger Woods emerged. Television poured tens of millions into the prize funds. For the local golf fans this is the ultimate proof that huge money and a great course are not enough to entice the world s best players, including Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Angel Cabrera or the player of the season, Henrik Stenson to travel. It’s a pity but as Geoff Ogilvy pointed out last week, they play for eight million dollars every week. Nor is this a team s event. The organizers will try and spin it that way but with seven of the eight million dollars going to the individual purse and the leading three teams sharing the other million it s an individual event. The golf will be good this week. Maybe the team component will make for extra excitement at the end but even that is hard to imagine given its unlikely teams will even be paired together. And, if Adam Scott has two putts to win the team s event but one putt to win the individual money does anybody think he will be lagging? Not a chance.