Fergus Bisset: The billion dollar man

The day it was announced Tiger had become sport's first billionaire, Fergus was battling for the £100 first prize in the Alliance.

Forbes Magazine announced this week that Tiger Woods has become sport's first billionaire. By picking up the $10 million bonus for winning this year's FedEx Cup, they calculate that the 34-year-old's career earnings from prize money, sponsorship, appearance fees and course design has surpassed the incredible landmark.

It seems ridiculous that one man should be so ludicrously wealthy because of a sport that's suffering badly as the global economy continues to limp through challenging times. Many golf clubs and facilities are nearing the brink, professional tournaments are disappearing as sponsors pull out, golf tourism is struggling, newspapers are being forced to lay off golf correspondents, yet Tiger continues to get richer. Forgive me if I'm sounding a little left wing here but it doesn't make sense does it?

Something I was writing about this week made me think further on the wealth-divide in golf. The R&A (one of the most important organisations in world golf) has announced they are awarding £52,000 in grants to projects in Africa. It's part of a wider commitment to donate £500,000 towards developing golf in Africa over the next year. The R&A is generous and forward thinking in their plans to promote and encourage golf across the globe, but the finances at their disposal are fairly insignificant in comparison to the assets of golf's number one player. If the R&A had a tenth of Tiger's wealth to dish out, just imagine how far golf could be progressed around the world.

Anyway, back to reality and this week's Alliance at Ellon - my first Alliance outing of the season. I played a very encouraging round of one-over-par 71 that, as always, could have been so much better.

I battled through the more difficult front nine in two-under and was feeling confident of improving my total as we began the easiest stretch on the course from the 10th to the 16th. Infuriatingly, however, I played those holes in three over.

I have to put it down to complacency. Before the game my aim was to hold on to my score until the turn then make in-roads on the short par 4s at the start of the back nine. When I reached the 10th, I relaxed too much and made silly mistakes as my concentration wandered. On the short 15th I missed a par putt about the length of a squirrel's tail.

Fortunately, I composed myself to record a pair of pars on the astoundingly difficult last two holes and ended the day at a respectable +1. On the whole, I was pleased with my performance and will take some confidence into next week's Scottish Alliance Championship at Gullane.

Colin Nelson who won at Ellon with an excellent three-under-par 67 will pick up £100 for his efforts. With just 9,999,999 more Alliance victories he'll match Tiger's career earnings.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?