There have been some cynical suggestions in the media this week that the PGA Tour used the curiosity surrounding the return of Tiger Woods in order to gain some bonus publicity about Farmers Insurance becoming a full-time title sponsor of the tour event at Torrey Pines.
That may be true or it may just be sour grapes because media types took time out of their day earlier this week to phone in to a teleconference, thinking it was a grand announcement about what was going on with the big guy.
It really doesn’t matter, since the media will also use every available opportunity to launch a Tiger question now that he’s confirmed that he will return to the Masters in about three weeks in what is shaping up to be the event of the decade in golf. So everybody is willing to use anyone in order to get what they need.
In order to satisfy that curiosity, events that are intended for reasons other than Tiger curiosity will be used for that very purpose. I must admit that I launched a couple of off-topic queries to John Cook for a column on Tiger that I was writing for Sun Media. You can read that here.
Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner, has committed to play in the Montreal Championship, an inaugural event on the Champions Tour that will be played July 2-4 at Fontainebleau Golf Club in Blainville, Que. Cook will be joined in the field by Hale Irwin.
The new Montreal event will be played long after the dust settles on the Tiger saga and considering the government funding it’s receiving, a strong field would be appropriate and a deserved reward in a city that has traditionally supported big-time golf events such as the Presidents Cup in a big way.
Cook doesn’t believe a strong field will be a problem.
“When they announced last year that there was a possibility of getting the Montreal event, there was a serious buzz around the room,” he recalled. “When it was confirmed that we were going to play in Montreal, everybody looked at each other and went, `Yeah, we should be there.’
“I know a number of other players have been up to Montreal a number of times and, of course, enjoyed the Canadian Open in Toronto and around the country. I can tell you unequivocally, the excitement is huge and there’s much anticipation about getting back up to Montreal and showing everybody a good time,” he said.
“I think the great thing about the Champions Tour is all the players play most every single week, so each week, the field is basically the same and that’s as strong as it can be,” said the 1983 Canadian Open winner.
“With Tom Watson playing a little bit more here and there, that’s always a great addition and hopefully, he gets a chance to come to Montreal and, of course now, with Fred Couples joining the Champions Tour, hopefully, he can find it in his schedule to come on up, too.
“Even so, the field will be very representative, Everybody else will certainly be there that everybody knows their names and (they) probably grew up watching play golf and maybe even got them into the game of golf. I would say yes, the representation of the Canadian Tour will be in full force once we get to Montreal.”
Name value is extremely important on the Champions Tour, but whether it’s because 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50 according to the popular theory in fitness, the old guys so commonly referred to as graybeards and roundbellies are making a pretty good showing of themselves lately.
Watson’s performance at last year’s British Open is the most shining example, but Couples is now Champion Tour age with Kenny Perry and Mark Calcavecchia due later this year.
The last few years of Cook’s PGA Tour career were plagued by health issues, but he has won four times on the Champions Tour, including two victories last year.
“It piques your interest again,” he said. “My later years on the PGA Tour, while I was semi-competitive, it basically came down to I was trying to make cuts. In my whole career, I wasn’t ever trying to make cuts – I was trying to win golf tournaments.
“Once I turned 50 and my health got turned around and I got competitive again, my game’s come back to a place where I think it’s as good as it’s been if not ever, then in a long time. I feel like I can keep on going and compete out there,” said Cook.
“You always have that little bit of a wonder whether you can still do that part again and there’s plenty of guys on our tour that are going back and forth (to the PGA Tour) and being very representative of how good players in their 50s can be and even in their 60s with Tom Watson,” said Cook.