Jerry West Tries Clutch Shot to Save LA PGA Stop

The question is, will Tiger Woods take his call?

Jerry West is not the kind of man who just throws his name behind anything — if he is in, he is all the way in.

Which means Jerry West as the new executive director of the Northern Trust Open is not some fancy celebrity title. Jerry is not just schmoozing sponsors and waving to the crowd in early February — he is there to build back up what was once called the Los Angeles Open.

Of course the hire of a legendary name in the Los Angeles sports scene was in part about raising the profile of an event that has gone from historic to pedestrian. The Northern Trust Open feels now just like any other stop on the summer long PGA tour. Sure the players rave about the old-school course at the Riviera Country Club, but getting people to come out and watch has been a challenge (which is a euphemism for it having sucked). Attendance has been dropping for a decade. Despite big name players like Phil Mickelson, who won the event this year.

There are things West can do to improve the fan experience — parking is always a problem in Pacific Palisades, and the food at the event was not gourmet by anyone’s definition.

But if you really want to boost attendance, West needs to get Tiger Woods playing here again.

As Woods goes, so do tournaments and ratings on the PGA Tour — that includes at Riviera, a course he skipped the last couple of years. Last time he played here was in 2006, when he got caught without an umbrella in a rainstorm then had to withdraw due to illness the next day.

The tournament needs him. Everyone speaks well of Mickelson or Zach Johnson, but Tiger Woods gets people to pay the admission price. And this is still Wood’s hometown event.

The PGA Tour needs Los Angeles — it’s big city events like Chicago and Boston are not doing well. Los Angeles should be the easiest to revive, this is a course Ben Hogan loved so there is a tradition like few other places. It can succeed again.

And there is nobody in Los Angeles who doubts Jerry West can come through here. We have seen him do it too many times in the past.

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