by Alex Poletti
Two of the world’s most popular golfers, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, agreed to participate in the first ever shirts game in professional golf history this September at the Narashino Country Club in Japan. Reports indicate that the game will play similarly to a skins game, but with far more clothing.
Rumors have been swirling that the PGA tour would return to the skins game format that achieved popularity in the early 2000s. However, PGA president Suzy Whaley opted to form a different event, rather than revive the format that died in 2008.
“We are very excited about the first shirts game,” Whaley says. “This will be a high-stakes, thrilling event with more public decency than others of its ilk.”
Woods and McIlroy are two of the most well-known players of the sport today, both formerly holding the World’s no. 1 ranking. However, the two have fallen on hard times, neither making the cut of the Open earlier this year. With lots of money and publicity on the line, this was an easy choice.
“For the amount of money on the table, this was a no-brainer,” Woods says. “I’m glad they changed the format as well. I was quite the skins player back in my heyday, but I’ve gotten older and feel a little self conscious about being filmed shirtless.”
The general concept of the skins game is that each hole is worth a certain amount of money, and whichever golfer gets the lowest score on that hole gets the allotted cash. The PGA held a yearly skins event from 1983 to 2008.
“By the time I had made a name for myself in the golf world, the Skins Game was long gone,” McIlroy muses. “I wish I had gotten the chance to play one. I’ve never liked the feel of fabric while I swing. It would’ve been a welcomed change.”
According to a source close to the story, a key factor in Whaley’s decision to abandon Skins for Shirts was due to the growing Japanese market. Whaley confirmed this to The Second String.
“Because this event will be held right before the Zozo Championship in Japan, we wanted to appeal to the culture’s sensibilities,” Whaley explains. “On the whole, the Japanese culture values modesty. If we were to walk onto their golf courses American-style with no trunkel apparel, they’d never watch golf again.”
So far, only Woods and McIlroy have signed on for the event. It is expected that two fatter PGA golfers will be forced to play a Skins Game right beforehand as a form of schoolyard ridicule.