Ryder Cup Controversy
STARS AND GRIPES
Phooey to god and country, unspoiled competition, goodwill and
the rest of it. The Ryder Cup went strictly commercial last week
when David Duval loudly complained that the players are getting
stiffed by one of golf's rainmaker events, and his grousing was
met with a chorus of amens and hallelujahs from teammates Lee
Janzen, Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods. "A lot of money is being
generated, and players and captains are the only ones not
getting paid," said Duval, who has never played in a Ryder Cup.
An inconsequential friendly when it began in 1927, the Cup has
become big business. NBC paid $13 million for the television
rights to the upcoming matches at the Country Club in Brookline,
Mass., Sept. 24-26, and the PGA of America will net a reported
$23 million--a figure the PGA will neither confirm nor deny.
Duval warned that players might soon skip the event if they
don't begin to receive more than their current $5,000 stipend.
At last week's Canon Greater Hartford Open at the TPC at River
Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., Duval denied threatening to
boycott, but his riffing had already polarized sentiment on both
sides of the debate. Lanny Wadkins, the 1995 U.S. captain, spoke
for the old school when he expressed surprise that pride wasn't
enough anymore. "I think some guys who are concerned [about
money] don't understand what the Ryder Cup is," he said. "Maybe
if they had been paying more attention to their games the last
couple of Cups, they wouldn't have lost."
Ryder Cup economics are simple. Like the NCAA men's basketball
tournament, the Cup funds other, less celebrated programs. The
PGA, a nonprofit organization, will allocate $12.5 million of
the take next month to its Ryder Cup Outreach Program, which
funds opportunities for minorities and juniors, among other
causes. The PGA also runs money losers like the PGA Cup matches.
As Davis Love III said last week, "There's not one player who
hasn't been helped by the PGA of America."
The PGA pays the PGA Tour 20% of the Ryder Cup's TV rights
fees--roughly $2.5 million--and that, too, helps the players.
Those funds are allocated to purses and to player-retirement
Right or wrong, Duval's defiance may spawn a bigger controversy.
How much does the U.S. Open make, and how does the purse stack
up to gross revenue? "You're going to continue to have problems
like this," says Leonard Decof, a lawyer for the Tour Players
Association. "Golf is a big business. It's getting bigger. The
players are going to wake up and realize that people are
profiting from their services, but in some cases it's everybody
LPGA's Executive Privilege
HIGH OFFICE, LOW SCORES
Cindy McCurdy isn't being paid to be the president of the LPGA,
but she is making money while on the job. Despite having to
spend 15 to 20 hours a week on tour business, McCurdy is having
the best season of her 11-year career. "There's no doubt that
being president is a good-luck charm," says McCurdy, whose best
'99 finish has been a second in the Wegmans Rochester
International, worth $93,093. She's 19th on the money list, with
$252,779. Before this year McCurdy's best season was in '97,
when she was 34th in earnings.
McCurdy is far from the first LPGA player to reap rewards in her
presidency. During her two years in office, in 1967 and '68,
Kathy Whitworth won 18 times and was the leading money winner
and the player of the year both seasons. In addition to winning
11 titles in '76 and '77, when she was president, Judy Rankin
was the player of the year, had the lowest scoring average and
topped the money list in both years. Since then, Judy Dickinson
(1990-92), Elaine Crosby (1994) and Michelle Estill (1998) have
also had their best years during their terms as president.
"At first I thought it was just a myth," says McCurdy, "but now
I'm a believer." --Tom Hanson
Chris Jenkins, Little Rock
Jenkins, 29, an insurance broker, won the Arkansas Amateur
Stroke Play with a two-over 215 at Paradise Valley Athletic Club
in Fayetteville. A scratch golfer, Jenkins was the Arkansas Golf
Association's amateur player of the year in 1998 and won the
Arkansas Open in '97.
Tom Johnson, Fair Oaks, Calif.
Tom, 17, won his second straight Northern California Golf
Association junior championship, becoming the first boy to win
consecutive NCGA titles since Eddie Fry won three in a row, from
1941 to '43. Last week Tom reached the round of 16 at the U.S.
Junior Amateur in York, Pa.
Gregg Kohansky, New York City
Kohansky, 26, a senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, made
two aces in six days on the 160-yard 7th hole at the Muttontown
Club in East Norwich, N.Y. A former captain of the Yale golf
team, Kohansky used a seven-iron for the first ace, his first
ever, and a six-iron for the second.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
What do these players have in common?
They made holes in one last week at the Greater Hartford Open,
the only Tour event this year other than last January's Bob Hope
Chrysler Classic in which three players have made aces.
Were the course conditions at Carnoustie unfair?
--Based on 875 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Should the pros be paid to play in the Ryder Cup?
Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com
Here are the current U.S. Ryder Cup standings--the top 10
automatically qualify for the team--and where the players stood
at the end of the 1998 season.
PLAYER '98 RANK
1 David Duval 2
2 Tiger Woods 4
3 Payne Stewart 10
4 Davis Love III 6
5 Mark O'Meara 1
6 Hal Sutton 11
7 Justin Leonard 15
8 Jim Furyk 3
9 Phil Mickelson 8
10 Jeff Maggert 18
11 Steve Stricker 5
12 John Huston 17
13 Chris Perry 34
14 Tom Lehman 22
15 Steve Pate 32