Vijay Singh may have made a valid point when he took his sledge, not his wedge to the organisers of the Australian Open, saying that Australia should be embarrassed at not being able to put up enough prizemoney to compete with the economy of Fiji, which recently included its marquee event of the season, the Fiji International.
Singh has won three of golf’s Majors, so his opinion carries some weight.
The Australian Open will have a total prizemoney of pool of $1.25 million when it is held in November in Sydney. That figure is almost laughable, if it were not so sad. Small wonder that all manner of schmoozing is necessary to get players such as Jason Day and Adam Scott, or even Marc Leishman, to support golf in their native land.
In remarks published in The Courier-Mail, Singh said, “This tournament (the Fiji International) has more prizemoney than the Australian Open and that is ridiculous, really. Fiji is so small of a country compared to Australia yet we have this golf tournament (with major government backing and Fiji Airways sponsorship).I think Australia should take a hint and come up with a tournament that is better (prizemoney-wise).”
It does seem odd that Texan Jordan Spieth seems more willing to play in Australia than do some of the natives, but golf is a business like any other professional sport. Athletes know there are no guarantees regarding future earning prospects, so they play where they are paid the most.
Singh is something of a benevolent elder statesman in the sport of professional golf. At 54 years of age, he shows no indications of having any desire to call time on his professional career. He still plays the regular PGA Tour, along with the Champions Tour for the 50-and-over set and his game still has enough fire that he enters every event in which he plays with the belief that he can win.