(Getty Images photo)
By John Strege
The best way to ensure that Tiger Woods never plays in your tournament probably is to criticize him for not playing in it.
Case in point: The Humana Challenge. When it was still known as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Bob Hope himself made a plea to Woods to play in the tournament in 1997, his first full year on the PGA Tour. Woods opted to play in the Asian Honda Classic in Thailand instead, for which he received an appearance fee.
"We wrote to Tiger three times, called his father twice, called IMG twice, and never got a return call," Hope tournament director Michael Milthorpe said at the time. "I don't mind him not playing. I just think if Bob Hope calls you up and asks you to play in his tournament you say, 'yes.'"
Woods has never played in the tournament.
Flash forward to the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Last fall, Woods again skipped the tournament, despite already being in China to play an exhibition with Rory McIlroy there for which he received an appearance fee. Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship for HSBC, criticized him then, and he returned to the theme on the eve of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore this week.
The headline in this South China Morning Post headline: "Tiger Woods urged to respect WGC-HSBC Champions tournament."
"I do think the tours should make sure that there is respect to the tournaments, as opposed to playing in meaningless...money-making opportunities around the World Golf Championships," Morgan said. "It's up to the tours to enforce the criteria to their membership. And we've expressed our position to the tours, which is that we know they can't enforce their players to play and that's fine. We understand that.
"But we do think that players need to be respectful of these major events that are really at the top and the pinnacle and the lifeblood of the sport. If you've got sponsors investing that level of money, the players should respect the calendar."
Woods last played in the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2010 and tied for sixth. The prediction here: He won't play it later this year, either.
HSBC is the title sponsor of three major tournaments: the WGC-HSBC Champions, the HSBC Women's Champions and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It also has a sponsorship role with the British Open.