Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are private contractors, which means they can pick and choose the events they attend each year. While that may be the case, it didn't stop HSBC Champions officials from taking a shot at the top two players in the world on the eve of the World Golf Championship event.
"On the one hand we have by far and away the strongest field in Asia this year, 13 of the top 20 are here. But of course we are disappointed the top two are not here," HSBC's Giles Morgan said.
"We are looking at a true world golf championship. As a sponsor we can provide the prize money and all of the wonderful facilities for spectators, customers, the media etc. But the one thing you need of course is the players."
Woods and McIlroy are coming off a week where they each played a 72-hole event, and followed it up with a money-grab 18-hole match -- McIlroy and Woods reportedly made $1 million and $2 million respectively for the exhibition match -- the following day in China.
Both could've easily played this week in the WGC event, but here's the thing: They're not under any obligation to tee it up at this point in the season. Why? For one, they don't need the world rankings points. Secondly, ever since the event went under the WGC umbrella in 2009, the word "appearance fee" disappeared.
Should tournament officials of a major event be disappointed that the two biggest names in the sport decided to pass on the event for a $50,000 per player clinic in Kuala Lumpur (Woods) and a trip to see Caroline Wozniacki play in Bulgaria (McIlroy)? Sure. They spend a ton of money to put on these events and not having Woods and/or McIlroy pass is certainly a slap in the face.
But like a number of mid-level events on the PGA Tour, you have to assume the tournament name or field won't net you one of the biggest names in golf. The only thing that matters is appearance money and world rankings points. The tournament may have the latter; however, when you're coming off a one-day event where you made upwards of $1 million for playing 18 holes, you can see why the decision to skip was an easy one.