The Western No Longer

I actually got to read this Ed Sherman column on the death of the Western as it appeared in the Chicago Tribune. And I wonder how many people at the Tour realize what the "Western Open" name has meant to pro golf? Doesn't matter now.

Officials, using well-rehearsed lines, tried to explain why Chicago golf fans shouldn't feel jilted.

"We really don't look at it as abandoning Chicago," the PGA Tour's Tom Wade said. "We look at it as really upgrading and bringing a top-level, world-class event to Chicago."

How much of an upgrade do we need?

Sure, the September field will be deeper, but Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh are Western Open regulars and Phil Mickelson is an occasional visitor.

Are the crowds, which average in the high 40,000 range on the weekend, going to be substantially bigger because Retief Goosen is in the field? I'd rather see Woods every year and take a pass on Goosen.

The fact is, a strong local sponsor never would have allowed the tournament to be moved.

It remains a mystery why, after Motorola bowed out in 1999, a Chicago-area company never stepped up to support the event.

Now BMW, for a substantial $12 million to $14 million per year investment in sponsor costs, has renamed the tournament. It's hard to see the Western Open name go, but at least Evans Scholars will see a major boost in funding. That's one upgrade we can accept.

It wasn't BMW's decision to rotate tournament locations. That ruling came from the PGA Tour.