The Loop

Golf World Monday: Improving Kapalua

January 10, 2011

Can you have a tournament of champions without the champions? Obviously, if you watched the Hyundai event from Kapalua, you can. But that doesn't mean the PGA Tour shouldn't find a way to get a stronger field. Among those qualifiers absent last week were three 2010 major champs (Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen) and the world's No. 1 player (Lee Westwood). As non-members, Kaymer and Westwood couldn't fit Kapalua into the limited number of events the PGA Tour allows them. Oosthuizen chose to play at home in South Africa. Mickelson extended his holiday break.

If the big names are going to skip, or be forced out of the tournament, the tour should expand the eligibility criteria. Here are three ideas: 1) Give all players with 10 or more career tour wins automatic entry into the field, provided they still have tour status. 2) Allow all past major champions into the field. 3) Most important, don't count the T of C as one of the 10 (or 11) events non-members are allowed to play. (The tour already exempts the Players from this requirement, so why not grant the same status to a tournament that needs more help?) Kaymer or Westwood or Rory McIlroy still might not come to Hawaii (Mickelson's a lost cause), but it would be harder for them to opt out if you took away their most obvious reason to skip.

--John Antonini

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