When he heard that a certain film star's fee for a movie amounted to more than the film's budget, Alfred Hitchcock remarked that the movie had become the vehicle for the star. As he said, "What's the point?"
We may have arrived at exactly this position in golf. Simply by turning up at the St Leon-Rot course near Heidleberg in Germany, Tiger Woods was paid as much as the others were competing for in the prize fund.
It follows that this event was being played as a vehicle for Tiger Woods to perform in Europe.
What's the point?
The sponsors could have saved money by simply having the Tiger turn up and play four exhibition rounds of golf.
They could have got any two of the top ten in Europe to play with him for a lot less than the prize fund. The same crowd would have gathered to witness the event.
TV contracts would have been forthcoming equally as readily, and the same viewing audience would have paid the rental fee.
If evidence is required to support the contention that Tiger Woods is now bigger than the game, then the aptly named Deutsche Bank SAP Open provides it.
What purported to pass as a golf tournament was overshadowed by the ballyhoo about Woods.
Not only was the massive appearance money that he was paid trumpeted across Europe, but the Masarati provided for him got more attention than any other player did in the event. All of this can only add to the dent in the European Tours collective psyche concerning Woods.
It is madness in this Ryder Cup year to ask the best in Europe to gather and match their skills against the Master as a means of purveying the Master.
Why not simply run a Master Class and have done with it?
The whole Woods thing has entered the realms of theatre and the world of pro-golf has become an accompaniment to his performance.
But the man continues to provide the performances whatever the vehicle. In Germany this weekend he played the leading role to perfection, ably supported by Colin Montgomerie.
Colin's part in the performance could not have been bettered even if the Tiger had brought in Hollywood scriptwriters.
The casting was excellent with the brooding, lurking Monty and a young carefree Justin Rose playing the ever-so-close and endearing also-rans.
The only thing that was wrong with the whole show was the unbelievable ending for it required a suspension of disbelief that was simply too much to ask.
The basic plot was good.
Monty, a dour, resolute determined leader with a bad back battling through the pain barrier to the last green.
A young aspiring Rose reaching home a shot behind and left grasping at the straw of leaders' mishap. But there was no mishap and the leaders holed-out, tied on a staggering twenty under par, to face a shoot-out.
If a suspension of disbelief was needed to this point, what followed required mind-numbing chemical substances.
The sudden-death pay-off involved only one hole, the last, and the protagonists played it with monotonous consistency twice before the scriptwriters arrived at a final draft.
Monty was to succumb in a way that even the most ham-actor's agent would have rejected.
Having tied the play-off hole twice in exactly the same way, Woods, acting the best player the world has ever seen, played an iron off the tee into perfect position leaving him a mid-iron into the flag positioned tightly at the back of the green.
Monty, playing the sullen Scot adversary to perfection, smashed his drive so far that it ran out of fairway to topple into a bunker and come to rest against the lip.
Playing his second shot first, Woods misses the green big and left. All is suddenly not lost.
Monty merely has to splash out of the bunker, stick his third up to the hole before holing-out for a par and surely another halved hole.
But no Bagger Vance was written-in, shades of Van de Velde entered the script and Monty needlessly went for the flag. His ball splashed into the pond and with it plopped his tournament hopes.
As a drama it was poor. The setting was bad, consistent with other European Tour venues of recent times.
The script was somewhat predictable and, although the stars played their parts well they somehow remained locked in character.
Overall, for a high budget production this hardly merited the money and the demands made on the suspension of ones disbelief was just too much.
|| 21 - MAY 2002