SBD/Issue 9/Leagues & Governing Bodies

PGA Tour's Best Tee Off As Fourth FedExCup Comes To A Close

FedExCup Finale Tees Off In Atlanta With All 30
Players In Field Eligible To Win $10M Top Prize

The FedExCup winds down this weekend with the Tour Championship, and the fourth iteration of the PGA Tour playoffs has "delivered star-studded fields playing for big money and generating interest at a point in the season when interest in the sport was scant," according to Larry Dorman of the N.Y. TIMES. While a "few glitches remain in the system, a perfectly equitable formula is unlikely in a system that carries over regular-season points to a four-event playoff." The PGA Tour has "tweaked the system twice, and the players seem satisfied that most potential inequities have been addressed." Dorman notes there is a "standard three-word response on the tour that covers most tournament eligibility questions and purse and points distribution complaints: just play better" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote the FedExCup "remains an innovative substitute for the previous schedule, which ended in November and saw the game's top two players eschew the festivities at East Lake Golf Club." All 30 golfers teeing off today in Atlanta are eligible to capture the FedExCup's $10M top prize, and any criticism of the Cup for "its supposedly failing format is unworthy." Golfer Steve Stricker: "I don't think you need to understand the points system to really follow it. I mean, I don't understand the NASCAR points system but I still enjoy following it" (ESPN.com, 9/21). SI.com's Alan Shipnuck wrote this week's Tour Championship, offers "real intrigue and a host of storylines ... for a change." The event should provide a "stellar conclusion to the most intriguing" FedExCup yet (GOLF.com, 9/21).

MR. FIX-IT: GOLF.com's Gary Van Sickle wrote the PGA Tour could tweak the FedExCup points system every year and it still "wouldn't address the real problem: the points don't relate to anything real." They are "arbitrary numbers, and no amount of adjusting will change that fact." The only chance of making the FedExCup race "interesting to viewers and the media is to score in terms of something we can understand: relation to par." The Tour should "simply keep track of players' cumulative scores during the four playoff tournaments." That might be the "only way anyone will arrive at the 72nd hole at East Lake and know what he has to do to win" the FedExCup, and the "only way any player will ever stand over a putt knowing it's worth $10 million, a moment I think we're all rooting for" (GOLF.com, 9/20). The GLOBE & MAIL's Lorne Rubenstein writes the FedExCup points system is "complex, to say the least, and the PGA Tour must have had to find major mathematical wizards to derive the permutations and combinations in the tournament ether." It is "heavy going to understand what transpires" in the playoffs, contrary to ordinary Tour events when "low score wins, as it will at the Tour Championship" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/23).

Two-Time FedExCup Winner
Woods Failed To Qualify

I'LL BE MISSING YOU: Some pundits suggested the PGA Tour should have included Woods in the Tour Championship field even though he failed to qualify, but CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling wrote the world's No. 1 golfer "didn't deliver." The FedExCup playoffs, "like the tour itself, are designed as a meritocracy," and Woods had "just as many chances as everybody else to earn a spot in the 30-man field." Elling: "With all due respect for the loss of marketing mojo that will be felt in the TV ratings or at the gate without the defending FedEx champion on the course this week at East Lake, it was Woods' decision not to play more tournaments over the summer to increase his chances of adding points." Augusta Chronicle columnist Scott Michaux responded, "Either you have rules that reward merit in an annual points race or you don't. I don't feel the need to discuss this silly concept any further" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/21). Golf Channel's John Feinstein said, "You certainly don't exempt anybody into an event where you have to be in the top-30 for the year to qualify. That means you qualify, you don't get a sponsor exemption or Tour exemption because you help TV ratings" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 9/20). Golf Channel's John Hawkins: "If you give them a free pass into the Tour Championship, you give them a free pass to skip whatever they want leading up to it. It's a bad idea" ("19th Hole," Golf Channel, 9/22).

LOSING MY MOMENTUM: The Tour Championship comes after the Tour instituted a one-week break following the BMW Championship, the third of four FedExCup events. GOLFWEEK's Adam Schupak wrote, "Whatever momentum was building from three terrific tournaments was wiped out by the quietest week in golf." The LPGA and Champions tours also were dark last weekend, which "felt like the day after baseball’s All-Star game, aka the slowest sports day of the year, except it lasted four days" (GOLFWEEK.com, 9/20).

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