SBD/August 23, 2012/Events and Attractions

FedExCup Playoffs, After A Shaky Start, Is Now Accepted As Part Of The PGA Tour Culture

Finchem said event has been a success because both fans, golfers are into it
The sixth edition of the PGA Tour FedExCup playoffs began today with The Barclays being played at Bethpage Black, and five years into the playoffs, it can be said that the “scheme originally greeted with skepticism has worked on almost all counts,” according to Ron Sirak of GOLF WORLD. The “greatest impact is that it created four high-quality events at the post-majors time of the year when the big names had previously gone fishing.” It is "compelling and meaningful golf at a time when the end of baseball and the beginning of football rule the sports world.” The FedExCup has become a “catalyst for the most dramatic change in the history of the PGA Tour -- a 12-month season that begins in October after the 2013 Tour Championship, as well as the devaluation of Q school.” With FedEx “locked in as the sponsor through the 2017 season, the playoff is the centerpiece not only of the PGA Tour season but also of its television broadcast schedule, the tour’s most lucrative revenue stream.” PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw said, “No question the FedExCup has been a success. All of our objectives have been satisfied.” He added, “I don’t think we would have gotten to the 12-month season without the FedExCup.” Golfer Phil Mickleson said, “There was a lot of skepticism when it first came out. … We were not sure how it was going to evolve, but now it’s really become a staple of the PGA Tour and something that the players really look forward to and strive for.” Sirak notes if the Cup has “fallen short in any area it is in the area of ratings, which have increased but not spiked” (GOLF WORLD, 8/27 issue).

PART OF THE TOUR'S LANDSCAPE: PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, “In just a short period of time, the basic mission has been accomplished. It’s part of the golf landscape.” GOLFWEEK’s Jim McCabe notes Finchem “knows the majors pack the greatest sex appeal,” but there “hasn’t been much not to like about the first five years of the playoffs.” Finchem said, “History will determine its stature. But so far we’ve got a really great start -- five years of good tournaments, good drama, great championships. The fans are into it and the players are into it.” Deutsche Bank Americas CEO Seth Waugh, whose company title sponsors the second of the four playoff tournaments, said, “Everyone has spent so much time poking holes in the playoffs that they are missing the plot. The best 125 this week, the best 100 our week, and so on. It has really worked, and Tim deserves credit for paying attention and tweaking it each year to make it better” (GOLFWEEK, 8/24 issue). CBSSPORTS.com's Shane Bacon wrote it seems fans this year "can honestly say they're actually pumped up for the playoffs to begin." The season has not seen a "true champion," and the playoffs "start with a dream matchup" of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods being paired together for the first two rounds of The Barclays. On top of that, the playoffs "roll right into the Ryder Cup" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/22).

NOT ENOUGH FOR THE BIG APPLE? In N.Y., George Willis wrote claiming The Barclays is “totally off the sports radar would be an over-statement,” as any time McIlroy, Woods and “the other 125 top players in golf are in an event that leads to a $10 million paycheck, it’s going to draw some attention.” But the tourney “has the feel of a first-round NCAA game at a site that previously hosted the Final Four.” This week’s tournament is “important for Bethpage, which is scheduled to host the Barclays again in 2016 and has had preliminary talks about hosting a PGA Championship or a Ryder Cup” (N.Y. POST, 8/21). On Long Island, Mark Herrmann noted Jason Dufner, who ranks No. 3 in the FedExCup points list, is not playing in The Barclays as he “believes he has enough of a cushion to coast into the next round” of the playoffs. Herrmann: “Unfortunately, he is right. That is a flaw in the playoff system, but it is a bigger flaw in Dufner. He is making the playoff concept look silly.” But what if the “respective Nos. 1 and 3 players, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, put their feet up?” Woods has “done it, and it was not a happy sight for the playoffs.” In some ways, The Barclays is “the best of the playoff events because it attracts all the top golfers but, with 125 qualifiers, it also has some room for Cinderella” (NEWSDAY, 8/22).
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