December 19, 2011
You can certainly file these Lee Westwood quotes under the header "things you don't hear professional golfers say."
Westwood, who won in Thailand over the weekend, seems primed to have a big 2012. The win not only propelled him ahead of Rory McIlroy in the OWGR, it also allowed him to become the leading career money-earner on the European Tour, and the first Briton to surpass the £25m mark in on-course earnings.
Needless to say, Westwood's Christmas presents came early this year.
However, when the dust settled on his historic victory, it wasn't his on-course accomplishments that were making headlines. Instead, it had to do with comments Westwood made about professional golfers making too much money.
During an interview with The Independent, Westwood gave some refreshing comments on the eye-popping money professional golfers make these days.
"We play for a staggering amount of money, no doubt about it and I've always stressed we are very very fortunate," he said. "I think we are paid too much money — compared to police and teachers and nurses. But then compare it to footballers. I think the only thing you can probably justify it by is that when golfers have a bad day, we don't get paid anything, but when we have a great day we get paid a lot. It's part of the pressure involved. There isn't a wage as such."
It's hard to disagree with Westwood's comments. Looking back at the prize money Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus played for in their prime, there's no doubting the sport has turned into a cash bonanza for the most successful players in the world.
However, if you were to look at the mini-tour guys just scraping by to keep their dream alive, you'd see a number of professional golfers probably make as much as some police officers and teachers. The difference is most people never see these guys teeing it up in local events. We only see the big names playing on the Golf Channel.
Westwood makes a great point about the guys at the top of the sport, but it's a different story for a majority of the professional golf population. Will we ever see the money decreased in the future? Probably not. But it's still nice to hear from a ground pro who seems to be looking at things from a different perspective.