American Andy Ogletree played poor golf over the weekend. He finished last in the tournament. Only Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, 599 in the world rankings, met him with a 23-round stroke, but Ogletree showed that things could be worse and entered the club with 24 over-par. There must be a reason why the 24-year-old, ranked 1404 in the world, has only earned $17,000 in his career. Of course, Ogletree was still one of the winners. Unlike amateurs, who plow the courts without fees, he received 120 thousand dollars for piracy. He had competed in the first tournament of the Saudi Tour in St Albans near London, not in the Monthly Cup at Casrup-Rauxel Golf Club.
Of course, the winner’s check also looked pretty big, Charles Schwarzl got four million dollars, and he won in three days more than three years. Former pro-Australian Greg Norman, who appears to be the CEO of the Saudi tour with permission from Saudi financiers to throw the bills without limits, was happy with South Africa. Martin Kaymer, who ranked 16th with a score of nearly a quarter of a million, didn’t find anything reprehensible about being part of a party who wanted anything soulless. So it is in the nature of things that the critics do not come from the ranks of the participants.
One point of this story, of course, is that the US PGA Tour, which in turn generates and distributes an insane amount of millions, must draw the moral card. Their commissioner Jay Monahan bluntly asked if the senior professionals should apologize for their tour of the house. One can now come to the conclusion that it is insane how quickly athletes leave the system to which they owe everything when higher wages tempt them elsewhere. But of course it is not. This is how elite sport works.
What is striking, however, is how helplessly the organization must monitor development. Aside from banning defectors from the US tour, they can’t think of anything. The criticism from relatives of the victims of 9/11 terrorism is justified, with one initiative complaining that golfers sold their lives to the Saudi system. But even that doesn’t prevent the next batch from happening in Portland at the end of June. After all, Saudi tour cutter Rory McIlroy managed to achieve great success. As the Northern Irish claimed his 21st PGA title at the Canadian Open on Sunday, he smiled and said he now had “more than anyone else” – meaning Norman.
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