SBD/September 26, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bill Haas Wins Both FedExCup, Tour Championship In Playoff

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Haas won both titles after ranking 25th in the points standing
Bill Haas “won a dramatic winner-take-all playoff worth $11.44 million against Hunter Mahan to capture the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup titles Sunday at East Lake Golf Club,” according to Chris Vivlamore of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Haas, who won the PGA Tour playoff title by coming from the 25th position in the points standings, said that he “was unaware that both titles -- and the large sum of money -- were on the line in the playoff.” Haas won the playoff title with the “slimmest of mathematical chances entering the final of the four-event postseason” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/26). ESPN.com’s Bob Harig wrote the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs and the Tour Championship “turned into riveting stuff when Haas and Hunter Mahan emerged tied for the Tour Championship title, which meant a sudden-death playoff that went three extra holes.” Haas got to “accept both trophies, just as Jim Furyk did a year ago, making a nice tidy affair of the awards ceremony and making everybody feel good about the FedEx Cup champion coming up clutch to win the tournament -- the only way in which he could capture the overall title.” But Harig wrote, “If Haas didn’t know he was playing for an extra $10 million, how would the folks following outside the ropes have any idea? And therein lies one of the biggest flaws with the FedEx Cup.” Having to sit “by a computer to figure out who might win and listening to the various scenarios is mind-numbing.” Harig asks, “Wouldn’t it be better to simply have the winner of the tournament win the FedEx Cup?” (ESPN.com, 9/25).

GREAT SUCCESS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s John Paul Newport wrote, “As a business proposition, especially for PGA Tour players, the FedEx Cup Playoffs have been a resounding success.” Since the playoffs debuted in ’07, Tour members “have competed for the $335 million in prize money that wasn’t there before.” For fans, the playoffs “have been less of a humdinger.” Newport notes few fans “will spend a lot of time parsing the peculiar, points-related puzzles that the FedEx Cup finale throws up.” The playoffs “have extended top-quality golf competition into the fall, an unequivocal bonus for hard-core golf fans.” The PGA Tour noted that the playoffs have “nearly 100% participation by eligible players and television ratings, for the last four years, that are 29% higher than the comparable ratings for the four prior years.” The Tour “deserves credit for tweaking the playoffs formula three times in response to its initial deficiencies amid withering criticism from some in the media" (WSJ.com, 9/24).

SHORT OF THE FLAG: Golf Magazine's Paul Mahoney tweeted, "So was the FedEx Cup a success? Nope. Sunday's last hour was exciting but just another exciting finish to yet another 72-hole tournament. … $10 million bonus is vulgar & even the winner of the FedEx Cup didn't know he'd won." CNBC's Darren Rovell: "FedEx Cup scoring is just as confusing as figure skating. Golf kills itself for making it so confusing . … Winner of FedEx Cup/Tour Championship makes $11.4 million. TWO TIMES more than Jack Nicklaus made for his career ($5.7M)." Comedian/sportswriter Gerry Dee: "Nice try FedEx Cup but I never have and never will buy into it. Still good golf but not the excitement for me that a major has" (TWITTER.com, 9/25).

SHOWING AN INTEREST: PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem Friday said the Tour has "parity right now." He added, "What we’ve seen is our ratings are up, our overall fan base is up. ... They know about the game of golf, and they’re interested in these young players.” Finchem: “The fans are interested in our product, and they’re demonstrating it week in and week out, and that’s why we continue to grow. We’re going to grow this year, and we’re going to grow each of the next 10 years based on our new television agreements. The television people have invested in it because they can see the quality of our audience and the size of our audience” (“Sports Biz: Game On,” CNBC, 9/23).

ACROSS THE POND: The GLOBE & MAIL's Lorne Rubenstein writes Sunday’s Solheim Cup conclusion “provided one nerve-wracking moment after another, and demonstrated” that the event “warrants as much attention as the Ryder Cup.” Rubenstein: “Women’s golf? It’s time to care, and time to follow. The Solheim Cup that Europe won on Sunday was brilliant stuff. Brilliant. Vital. Energizing. Simple as that” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/26). Golfweek's Alistair Tait tweeted, "Solheim Cup proved we don't need daft ideas like FedEx Cup & $11 million to stage a great event. The girls played for pride only" (TWITTER.com, 9/25).

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