• Out of Bounds

Bermuda bonanza crying out for overhaul

ESPN staff
October 24, 2012
Two of the year's four major winners are not at the Grand Slam of Golf © Getty Images

Is there a less fitting name for a tournament than the misleadingly grandiose 'Grand Slam of Golf'? Well, no.

The title is loaded with significance, and the event is propped up by a pile of cash: the man who finishes last in the four-man field is still guaranteed a hefty £125k. But ultimately, it never quite adds up to the sum of its parts.

This year is a particularly shining example. The Grand Slam is meant to pit the year's four major winners against each other, presumably with the intention of crowning the greatest of all - but in 2012, only two men taking part, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, have got their hands on a major in the past 12 months.

Rory McIlroy, the US PGA winner, swerved the Grand Slam in order to defend his BMW Masters title in Shanghai - how's that for a snub? - while Ernie Els was forced to pull out because of an ankle injury.

Padraig Harrington, without a major or notable tournament victory since 2008, slotted in for Els, while 2011 US PGA champion Keegan Bradley filled McIlroy's boots. Second and third alternates Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods both honoured commitments to play in Asia instead of turning up in Bermuda.

So this year, it all feels slightly pointless. In fairness, it doesn't help that there are several other season-ending events: the $11m FedEx Cup, which always commands a stellar field and values drama over the worthiness of its winner, and the Dubai World Championship, the European Tour's similarly cash-rich equivalent.

Those tournaments seek to draw a line under the season and usher the year towards a neat conclusion. The Grand Slam maybe wants to do that, but it doesn't - it's kind of a pre-conclusion conclusion, and thus just feels like a bit of a jolly knock-around. Get an invite - if you're lucky, you don't need a major to your name in the last four years - play a couple of rounds, and if you end up last then well, have £125k anyway. Nice work if you can get it, right?

The US PGA also does its bit to rip away the Grand Slam's thunder, by pairing together the year's three major victors for the first two rounds. And to be honest, that arrangement hardly gets the pulse racing at the best of times.

So the Grand Slam's credibility has been chipped away, and few people would be inconsolable if it was knocked off the calendar. If it's to receive an injection of credibility, a rethink is needed: perhaps make it just the one round, thus making it a less onerous ask for those with other commitments, or turn it in to a matchplay event. Its stock certainly can't sink any lower than the current level.

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