SBD/September 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour's FedExCup Riding High As Playoff Finale Tees Off In Atlanta

FedExCup Playoffs wrapping up with star-studded field at Tour Championship
The PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs are on "quite a roll" heading into The Tour Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta with "star-studded leaderboards, top-flight golf, boffo TV ratings, monster hits on websites and plenty of buzz on Twitter and Facebook," according to Steve DiMeglio of USA TODAY. The FedExCup "has been looking mighty fine in its sixth year," as golf is "still a desired part of the sports landscape in the autumn." The attention is "exactly what the PGA Tour's brass envisioned when the idea to give the season a year-end kicker to replace what used to be a whimper of a finish started to take root a decade ago." Golfer Lee Westwood said, "The FedExCup is quite good, wouldn't you say? I've been really impressed with how big the tournaments are and how big the series feels." NBC's Roger Maltbie: "Without question, the playoffs have certainly fulfilled their role in bringing interest to the game at a time in the season with the NFL and whatnot getting started." However, DiMeglio notes the FedExCup "still has its warts," as players can "skip a tournament and still win the playoffs." Also, golfer Tiger Woods noted before the postseason started that a player could "win the first three playoff events and lose in a sudden-death playoff in The Tour Championship -- and not win the FedExCup." But PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, "I think overall, these playoffs are doing exactly what they intended them to do, and they bring great pairings together" (USA TODAY, 9/20).

FORMAT IN THE ROUGH? GOLFCHANNEL.com's Ryan Lavner wrote while the prospect "is unlikely," Woods was "correct in saying Wednesday that a player could win every tournament the entire season -- including the first three legs of the playoffs -- but then finish second at the Tour Championship and not win the FedExCup." Woods said, “I don’t think that’s quite fair, but that is our current system.” Woods said that he "was told that the decision to change the format was, in part, a reaction to what happened to the NFL’s New England Patriots, who in 2007-08 had a perfect regular-season record and steamrolled through the playoffs, but eventually were defeated in the Super Bowl." Asked if the players are beginning to embrace the FedExCup, Woods said, “Guys still don’t quite understand the point system yet … because we’ve changed it several times over the years” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 9/19).

MEDIA DRIVING SUCCESS: Finchem during yesterday's State of the Tour address said TV ratings are up 31% over '11 for weekend coverage and up 14% on Thursdays and Fridays. Of those watching a Tour event, they watched on average 19% longer than last year. "By every estimation, it's been a fantastic year," Finchem said. During the first three events of the Playoffs for the FedExCup, PGATour.com had 2 million total streams, a quarter of those coming from iPad and iPhone apps. Traffic on PGATour.com is up 75% during the playoffs, and it was up 115% for the BMW Championship, the third playoff event. The tour's digital presence will increase next year when the full tournament TV broadcast will be simulcast online and on mobile devices (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
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