News & ToursOctober 12, 2010

PGA Grand Slam of golf keeps taking hits

Even after a second consecutive year in which somewhat lesser-known players found major glory, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf continues to take hits. British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen became the latest to withdraw from the annual event, which is supposed to feature the year's four major winners.

So naturally the PGA of America turned to... David Toms? Despite nearly a decade having passed since he collected his only major title at the 2001 PGA Championship, Toms, will tee it up next week in the 36-hole event at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda.

Of course, this wasn't nearly as big as a blow to the made-for-TV tournament as Masters winner Phil Mickelson pulling out to spend time with his family. To replace him, the PGA of America at least managed to find someone who last won a grand slam event as recently as 2002: Ernie Els.

Not that having the players who were actually major champions that year play adds much to tournament, which is somehow being contested for a 28th time. Take last year for example, when Lucas Glover beat Angel Cabrera by five shots. Not exactly must-see TV.

Joining Els and Toms will be U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer. McDowell did his part to slam the Grand Slam of Golf as well by saying it "is not a huge priority," in a recent interview with the Belfast Telegraph. The newly-anointed Ryder Cup hero was just speaking the truth, but I'm sure it didn't make tournament organizers do a celebratory jig.

Oosthuizen notified he was withdrawing due to recently damaged ligaments on the outside of his left ankle. He also withdrew from last week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, the site of his major triumph.

Despite the four-man field and short formant, participants play for an obscene $1.35 million purse. The winner gets $600,000 and finishing in fourth place, AKA dead last, still gets you $200,000. Apparently though, that's not enough to entice players to take what is essentially a paid vacation to a tropical paradise to play a couple rounds of golf.

While Mickelson, who shot a 59 in the second round of the 2004 event, and Oosthuizen surely have legitimate reasons to not make the trip, something tells me that players from another generation, when purses didn't equal lottery prizes, would have bit the bullet and gone. If players keep dropping out at this rate, the PGA of America may have to ask some of those guys to come out of retirement.

-- Alex Myers