Magazine article The Spectator

$10 Million Nobodies

Magazine article The Spectator

$10 Million Nobodies

Article excerpt

Golf has reached the eye-watering end of the season in the United States. By Sunday night, one man in a baseball cap will walk off the 18th green in Atlanta $10 million richer. This week is the final event in the FedEx Cup play-offs, a four-week season-within-a-season on the American Tour in which a total of $67 million is up for grabs for the top 125 players. Not a bad reward for a sunny afternoon trying to put a white ball in a hole in fewer strokes than everyone else. Being a golfer is one of the few jobs where the less work you do the richer you become. As Alan Partridge in his sports interviewing days put it to one of the world's finest players, 'So, Seve Ballesteros, only 63.

Not very good is it? Everyone else has got a lot more.'

For most of the players this week, the money really doesn't matter - an exception can be made for Henrik Stenson, the Swede who is having the season of his life after almost going bankrupt when he trusted his money to Allen Stanford.

Even a mediocre golfer can live like a king in America. It used to be the adage in golf that you drive for show and putt for dough. Now you get immense riches just for showing up. Last season, you had to get down to 100 on the US money list before you found someone who hadn't won $1 million over the year. This season a 49-year-old journeyman like Jeff Maggert has won $1 million despite finishing outside the top 30 in 18 of the 20 events he has contested.

As a format, the FedEx Cup, now in its seventh year, is exciting. Those 125 are whittled down over three weeks to 100, 70 and eventually 30 players, who compete in the season-ending finale in Atlanta. Some big egos get pricked along the way. Rory McIlroy, and Lee Westwood, both of them recent world No. 1s, failed to make the final 30 this year. Neither of them will go hungry - they have earned many millions from golf in the US over their careers, and that's before you add in the massive endorsements a world No. …

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