LEMONT, Ill.--Chicago is one of the great newspaper towns, strong on voice and opinion. Between Rick Morrissey in the Tribune, and the always acerbic Jay Mariotti in the Sun-Times, it was clear on Friday morning that the FedEx Cup concept has not grown on the Windy City's sports columnists. Especially when it means the loss of the Western Open and an annual date on the PGA Tour calendar.
Both took a strong stand on the dismal crowds who showed up Thursday at Cog Hill for the opening round of the BMW Championship. They compared the atmosphere to the July 4 dates, when the atmosphere was palpable.
Morrissey's lead was about Justin Rose's crowd resembling the gathering for a country club championship. At the time, Rose was 8 under through 12 holes, threatening to shoot 59. "This is going to take time, patience and a lot of pride swallowing," wrote Morrissey. "The tournament returns here in 2009."
Mariotti wrote about the "mere trickling of followers" accompanying the Tiger Woods group. He called it a golfing funeral and used a Tiger quote to back it up: "This is about what we see for the pro-am," Woods said, noting his disappointment and referencing the competition with the Cubs and the Bears, with school being back in session and families not coming out.
"It's a totally different atmosphere," he said.
As for the rotation of the BMW to St. Louis and Indianapolis, Mariotti asks, "Since when does a massive metropolis accept losing an even to dinky Midwestern rest stops?"
Woods, the loudest and most powerful voice in the game, doesn't need a column to have his forum. The man who has won three Westerns at Cog Hill and two PGAs at Medinah, provided the theme on Wednesday, when asked what he thought about going to Bellerive in 2008.
"Hey, I didn't like the idea," he said. "This is a great town. It's one of the biggest sports towns, if not one of the biggest markets. I don't understand why we can't play here year after year. People have always come out and supported the Western. They've always come out in droves, and it's unfortunate that we're leaving."