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[Opinion] “U.S. PGA” in Korea

Posted July. 12, 2005 03:15,   


The U.S. PGA Championship offers an average of 900,000 dollars in first prize money alone, while that of major tournaments is about one million to 1.2 million dollars, a slightly larger amount. A single victory brings a player wealth and reputation immediately. The aggregate prize money for participating players is 4.5 million dollars on average, ranging from three million to 7.5 million dollars. The senior PGA Championship in which over-50 players compete follows the PGA in terms of prize money and popularity. The LPGA, where Pak Se-ri, Park Ji-eun and Kim Mi-hyun play, is behind the senior tour in prize money and popularity.

That is why some say a victory in the PGA is the same as 10 wins in the LPGA. The PGA, a “dream competition” in which Choi Kyung-joo has made his name with two wins so far, is a place where world-class players contend for victory with one another. Neither Annika Sorenstam, also known as the “empress of golf,” nor Michelle Wie, who is called “genius,” has been able to make a PGA cut. There was only one woman who made the cut six decades ago.

With 45 to 48 competitions a year for these “golf gurus,” the players participate in a competition almost weekly. It is hard to hold a PGA tour by inviting them to the Far East over the Pacific Ocean. It is said that a competition outside the U.S. takes two weeks for players to move, adapt to the environment and adjust to the physical conditions after coming back to the U.S. Against this backdrop, it is only natural that it is extremely difficult to attract top-rank PGA players to those games. Reportedly, Tiger Woods got 2.5 million dollars in participation fees alone to attend a Japanese tournament.

The Sony Open is the only regular PGA tour event in Japan. It is held at the beginning of the year as an opening tournament on Hawaii, halfway between the U.S. and Japan. That is because some players do not want to fly all the way to Japan. It is uncertain whether it knew the situation, but the Korea National Tourism Organization hosted a PGA tour event on Jeju Island in November this year with six billion won in funds and budget and 3.7 billion won in extra funds from sponsors, which currently under inspection by Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection. As the tournament coincided with Thanksgiving, there were few famous players in the game and its promotion effect was weakened. It holds true that blind enthusiasm gets you nowhere. Being able to relax is one of the basics of a good golf swing.

Kim Chung-sik, Editorial Writer, skim@donga.com