Tiger Woods urged to respect WGC-HSBC Champions tournament
Major sponsor says players should honour such events, which are the pinnacle and lifeblood of the sport
HSBC's sponsorship chief has urged Tiger Woods to respect the bank's large investment by playing at this year's WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai instead of "meaningless … money-making opportunities".
Giles Morgan, HSBC's global head of sponsorship, said the bank had "had words" with the golf tours about impressing on players the importance of appearing at the biggest events.
World number one Woods has caused controversy by skipping the last two editions of the US$8.5 million tournament, the richest in Asia, in favour of exhibition appearances in China.
"I do think the tours - and I think the tours are working on this - should make sure that there is respect to the tournaments," Morgan said.
"As opposed to playing in meaningless … money-making opportunities around the World Golf Championships [WGC]."
He added: "It's up to the tours to enforce the criteria to their membership. And we've expressed our position to the tours, which is that we know they can't enforce their players to play and that's fine, we understand that.
"But we do think that players need to be respectful of … these major events [which] are really at the top and the pinnacle and the lifeblood of the sport.
"If you've got sponsors investing that level of money, the players should respect the calendar."
The WGC-HSBC Champions, played in November, is one of four World Golf Championships per year, which rank only behind the majors in prestige.
Over the last two years, Woods (pictured) has opted for highly lucrative exhibition appearances in China and elsewhere instead of playing the Shanghai event.
"The World Golf Championship is an enormous event and we pay a major prize fund for that and we are absolutely not in the business of paying appearance fees on top of that," said Morgan.
Morgan said he expected Asia's golf schedule, now split between two competing tours and crowded with events, to gain cohesion in the coming years.
"The trouble is when you have different tours and different administrations with different goals it means that you don't necessarily get a timetable that is entirely worked out," he said.