The reason Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson compete in early season tournaments such as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic has very little to do with a desire to expand their competitive horizons and a whole lot to do with hard cash.
Winner’s receive about $500,000 and a trophy. It’s hardly likely Woods and Mickelson would travel half way across the world for that when tournaments like the Humana Challenge, right on their doorstep in California, offer a first place prize of over $1 million. European Tour events however, are allowed to offer appearance fees, and top players can easily command seven figures just to show up. Phil Mickelson was reportedly paid $2 million to appear at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship where he finished in a tie for second place with Rory McIlroy.
However, even in their private planes travelling vast distances every month can have it's downside, and the condition of the courses can be questionable. Mickelson injured his back attempting to hit his ball out of rough that was so dense it had more than a few players concerned for their health. Sergio Garcia also suffered a shoulder injury in the first round. It is questionable whether Mickelson will be able to defend his title at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he may be hoping that his Middle East appearance fee doesn’t end up costing more than it was worth.