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The Gravy Train’s Brake

A simmering kettle finally boiled last week. And when it did, the most asked question was, “What took so long?”
It happened in Singapore when a man named Giles Morgan, the global head of sponsorship for HSBC, answered questions before the start of the bank’s LPGA Tour event. When the subject turned to the November WGC-HSBC
Champions in Shanghai, Morgan had some choice words for the world’s top players, calling them out for skipping some World Golf Championships events while pocketing hefty appearance fees to play elsewhere.
“We’ve expressed our position to the tours, which is that we know they can’t force their players to play and that’s fine, we understand that,” Morgan said. “But we do think that players need to be respectful of these major events (that) are really the pinnacle and the lifeblood of the sport.”
Contrary to some reports, Morgan did not single out Tiger Woods by name, although when he referenced people “playing in meaningless … money-making opportunities,” all eyes turned to Woods, who skipped the last two HSBC Championships to play exhibitions in Asia.
But his point was bigger than one golfer and one tournament. In a world where corporate happy talk has become the elevator music of most sporting events, Morgan’s candor raised a few eyebrows and earned him some applause as he voiced the frustrations felt by sponsors who pony up eight figures only to have big-name players say thanks but no thanks.


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