It's not surprising that David Duval provoked outrage when he cried that the PGA of America is exploiting the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Duval and Tiger Woods, who joined in grousing that the $5,000 stipend allotted to Ryder competitors was too meager, were correct in noting that the PGA reaps $17 million or more in net revenue from the Cup. But Duval, Woods and some other members of the 12-man team that will play Europe's best at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Sept. 24-26, seemed to forget that the PGA is a nonprofit organization that uses Cup proceeds to run events for lesser lights and to support various golf-related charities.
Facing charges of greed, Duval claimed that he'd been misunderstood, that what he really wanted the money for was his own charities. Woods said that was also true in his case. But as Brad Faxon pointed out, Woods and Duval, who have won a combined $6.4 million this year, hardly need such help if they want to give to charity.
So what's really the issue here? "The reason this [controversy] is occurring is the Presidents Cup," says Payne Stewart, laying the blame on the Ryder wannabe event hatched by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in 1994. With the Presidents Cup, which matches a U.S. team against a squad of foreign pros from anywhere but Europe, filling even years and the Ryder odd—and with both events requiring the U.S. players to glad-hand corporate heavies—top pros now must go through the whole tired exercise every 12 months instead of every 24. Woods hints that this is part of his objection when he wearily says, "It's pros on parade."
In fact, two biennial international team matches are one too many. Last December's Presidents Cup in Melbourne roused so little interest—partly because the time difference between Australia and the U.S. made it inconvenient to watch on TV—that even the U.S. players seemed drowsy, losing 20� to 11� to a team featuring the likes of Vijay Singh and Steve Elkington, players who can be seen on the Tour every week.
Stewart worries that, burdened with two international team events, the top golfers will start opting out of the Ryder Cup, as the top U.S. tennis players do with the Davis Cup. The answer is not to funnel the Ryder proceeds through the players. This was never about philanthropy. The answer is to recognize the Presidents Cup for the clutter it is and get rid of it.