The Arnold Palmer Invitational kicks off tomorrow and it’s a star-studded field; Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose make up five of the world’s top 10 players. But wait, where the bloody hell are the American pros?
It was announced yesterday that Arnold Palmer will not be the honorary starter at this years Master’s. He turned 86 this year and it would appear his seemingly endless youthfulness can’t go on forever. So when I heard about the paltry number of American golfers making the pilgrimage to Arnie’s tournament, I was appalled. Arnie effectively created the TOUR as we know it today; professional golfers owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the transformation he encouraged.
A very quick history lesson:
The PGA TOUR started its long career of routinely shafting people way back in the mid 1960’s. The players had to protect themselves and formed a new golf entity, the American Professional Golfers (APG) or “Arnie’s professional golfers” as it was jokingly referred.
A split from the PGA was on the horizon in 1969, but a compromise was reached partly thanks to Arnie’s steadfast diplomacy and insistence that players were given a voice in the decision making process.
Arnie made the tour what it is today, a place where players have more rights and peripheral pros have better career prospects. With this in mind, does it not surprise you that so few Americans are playing? Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson are all resting this week. Bubba Watson announced he has withdrawn because he is worried about a back injury, cough-bulls**t.
The list is too large to name. Here are some of the big hitters missing in action: Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker. In fact, just eight of the 22 top-ranked Americans are in the field. Disgraceful.
Many hold the TOUR responsible and blame their decision to move the WGC-Dell Match Play to the week after Arnie’s tournament as a contributing factor. But that doesn’t wash for me. “Henrik Stenson, who lives in Orlando, chose to go another route and skip the bigger purse and more ranking points of the WGC Match Play, to support his hometown event,” writes Golf Week. Goes to show that some men still put principles ahead of pay checks.
The distinction placed on the WGC events makes it difficult for these guys to choose a schedule. But what are we to think, that all of a sudden there are 5 events a year – including The Players – that carry more gravitas than the one hosted by the effective founder of the modern PGA?
This week has shown golfers in a bad light. Yes, Jordan is promoting “Drive, Chip and Putt,” by appearing on every late night show based in New York, but he has never played in the Arnold invitational. Bubba Watson’s excuse was pathetic. Just watch as we witness the longevity of his form this season. And Bill Hass – the man who received an Arnold Palmer scholarship – is absent for a second straight year. GRHHHHH
I’m very disappointed that a bit of class didn’t come out this week. We are all aware of the slight loss in Arnold’s energy and an acknowledgment of his contribution to the game could have easily been shown by four days participation.
Here’s to you Arnie!