Mark NessmithThis Week at Dec. 21, 2005

By opting out of Mercedes Championships,
Tiger and Co. say no to an endless summer

Tiger Woods will be skipping the season-opening trip to Hawaii for the '06 Mercedes Championships at Kapalua's Plantation course in January and he's not alone.

Once again, Phil Mickelson won't be there, again citing family reasons (you'd have to think that, at some point, even Lefty's kids are going to get sick of seeing so much of him!). Padraig Harrington won't be leaving the Emerald Isle for the trip to Hawaii and Retief Goosen will be staying in South Africa.

Vijay Singh, being sort of a local guy will be the top name in the field, with Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk the only other two from the top 10. This is assuming they don't beg off too. So, no matter what plotline the tournament and PGA Tour flacks try to sell, the big story in Hawaii is going to be the absence of big dogs.

Which begs the question: What exactly is it going to take for PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem to listen to Tiger and the others? They've been saying over and over that the season is too long, but are getting nowhere. "I haven't had an offseason and I need one," Woods told reporters.

I'd like to think guys like Mickelson, Harrington and Goosen figured the only way to get Finchem's attention is to stop talking out of their butts and - instead - just start sitting on 'em!

I don't have the time or inclination here to dig out the stats, but we all know what happens to attendance and viewership when Tiger doesn't play. The same goes for any of the top guys, though certainly to a lesser degree. Yet Finchem skips along merrily, trotting out gimmicky playoffs, made-up majors, and imitation Ryder Cup Matches. Sure his intentions are good - to increase interest in pro golf. But he's got to remember two things. First, there is a saturation point. Hey, if X number of tour stops is good, twice that's got to be better, right!? Wrong! Secondly, Tiger and co. are your product; listen to them! Without them in the field, you're left trying to sell guys like Ted Purdy, Jason Bohn and Tim Petrovic.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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