As Gil Renard said in the disturbing 1996 film The Fan, “A simple thank you would have been nice.”
Now, obviously Tiger Woods isn’t about to turn into Gil Renard and start kidnapping the world’s best players and bringing them to Newton Square, PA for the 2010 AT&T National, but a simple thank you would have been nice.
Although Woods' days of hosting the AT&T National ended shortly after his run-in with the fire hydrant last November, it is clear that he’s still the unofficial host, and the tournament still contributes a large amount of money to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Yet only two of the top 10 and three of the top 20 players in the world are on hand this week for the AT&T National.
Phil Mickelson, who has publicly acknowledged how Woods’ presence in the game has greatly benefited him financially, is off somewhere in Asia exploring golf course design opportunities.
Ian Poulter, who has financially benefited from Woods' presence as much as anyone, being that he earned well over $8 million on tour before ever winning a PGA Tour event, is off in France participating in that tradition like no other known as the Alstom Open de France.
Tim Clark, who until his win at the Players Championship had earned more money than any other player on tour without a win, isn’t even playing anywhere this week.
“Ungrateful” is the word that first comes to mind, followed shortly thereafter by “unappreciative.”
Since Woods emerged on the scene back in 1997 and sent golf’s ratings and popularity through the roof, purses have increased by almost 300 percent.
No, that’s not a typo; purses have increased by almost 300 percent.
In 1997, the PGA Tour’s total purse was $70 million. In 2007 it was 273.6 million.
In 1996, nine players earned more than $1 million. In 2009, 91 players earned more than $1 million, and Charles Howell III, who was 83rd on the 2009 money list, earned more than Tom Lehman, who was first on the money list in 1996.
Though great players in their own right, the likes of Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Lee Westwood (none of whom are present this week at the AT&T National) have played almost no role whatsoever in this massive injection of wealth into the game of golf, although they have purchased second, third, and fourth homes, fast cars, and private jets as a result of it.
The fact that Woods’ public image is not what it used to be, or that some may think he doesn’t play in quite as many tournaments as he ought to, is completely irrelevant.
Woods has unquestionably improved the lives of every single member of the PGA Tour, and he continues to do so every time he steps foot onto the golf course.
So, when Ian Poulter steps off his private jet back in Orlando and hops into a limo that will bring him back to his extremely large house in the exclusive Lake Nona golf community, or when Tim Clark relaxes by the pool outside of his massive home, or when Camilo Villegas enjoys all of the financial benefits both on and off the course that have come as a result of winning just three PGA Tour events, they should probably stop to think about where all of those luxuries came from...and a simple thank you to the man that made it all possible would have been nice.