Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lefty on the Verge at Firestone

Steve Elling talks about it in his game story. But, most interesting to me is this Mickelson quotation from the press room:

"It would be nice to win a WGC, it really would," Mickelson said. "I haven't really thought about it too much. I think maybe 20 years from now or 30 years from now they'll have prestige, much like I think the guys who first won the Masters had no idea what this tournament was going to become.

"I have no idea where the WGCs will be 30 years from now. They started midway through my career, so I haven't given them the priority like I do a major or care about like a major.

"But they are always the best fields in the game, they're always on great golf courses, they're always on tough tests of golf, so I think there's a lot of merit to whoever wins those, yeah."
I find this particularly funny considering the Huggan piece about major championships. Identity and field strength were particular concerns of Huggan's column. Let's take a look at the criteria to get into the Bridgestone Invitational.
  • Playing members of the last named United States and International Presidents Cup teams.
  • Playing members of the last named United States and European Ryder Cup teams.
  • If not otherwise eligible, players ranked among the top 50, including any players tied for 50th place, on the Official World Golf Ranking as of the Monday prior to and the Monday of tournament week.
  • If not otherwise eligible, tournament winners of worldwide events since the prior year's Bridgestone Invitational with an Official World Golf Ranking strength-of-field rating of 115 points or more.
  • If not otherwise eligible, the winner of one selected tournament from the PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
The first four criteria seem pretty reasonable - except for those outliers of guys who qualified for the Ryder Cup and President's Cup teams. I'm looking at Chris DiMarco, or Mark Brown, who got in by winning the Johnnie Walker Classic. (Really?!) Overall, though, the field does not appear to be a problem. Sure, having no cut is a problem, but I digress.

How about the quality of courses? Well, like it or not, Firestone has hosted several major championships before and has hosted this event every year but one. Still, the other WGC events have not had quite the same history for their host courses. It is debatable if Valderrama is a major golf course, and same with the Grove, Capital City Club, and Mount Juliet. And don't even get me started on the match play host courses. (But that doesn't really matter much.)

So, does Mickelson have a point? What will the value of the WGCs be in 20 years?

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