124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Put the World back in World Golf Championships

February 16, 2010

The issue is not a new one, but maybe it's time to revisit it: Should the World Golf Championship events leave the country on a more frequent basis, particularly in view of the fact that Americans are no longer the dominant force in international golf?

Until the HSBC Champions, an existing tournament in Shanghai, was given a WGC label last year, all the WGC events were held in the U.S. and had been since the WGC-American Express Championship (now the WGC-CA Championship) was held in England in 2006. Of the 33 WGC events held (including the '09 WGC-HSBC Champions), 26 have been held in the U.S..

Now consider the field at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship that begins Thursday outside Tucson. Of the 64 players, 44 are from foreign countries. Americans, in fact, are outnumbered by Europeans, 25-20, and would be even were Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing (23-22).

When the first Match Play Championship was held in 1999, at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif., the field included 40 Americans and only 24 foreign players.

The push for golf's inclusion in the Olympics last summer was based on growing the game globally. On that basis, wouldn't it behoove the International Federation of PGA Tours to expose more people internationally to the best players in the game, other than via television?

-- John Strege