SBD/October 10, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour Season Kicks Off New Schedule With Frys.com Open Lacking Big Names

Senden thinks that the new system has given fall events greater credibility
Everything about the Frys.com Open "looks and feels like a new season" on the PGA Tour, "except for the calendar," according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. This is the "first time the tour starts its season in one calendar year and finishes it in another." Since the FedExCup began in '07, the tour had "a half-dozen events that were nothing more than playing opportunities for the restless or a time for others to make enough money to secure their cards for the following season." To "avoid losing sponsorship of the fall tournaments, the tour made them part" of the FedExCup season. Golfer John Senden said, "This new system has given these fall events greater credibility" (AP, 10/9). USA TODAY's Steve DiMeglio writes what "used to be a season-ending Fall Series is now an autumn springboard to the new season." Full FedExCup points "are available and for the first time a Masters berth awaits the winner of these former Fall Series events." The new season "bridges two years with 45 events in 43 weeks," including the four FedExCup Playoff events (USA TODAY, 10/10). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote, "By every measure these events are improvements over what they were last season, post-Tour Championship afterthoughts adrift in the fall abyss." Each of the fall events "now carry full FedEx Cup points and an invitation to the Masters, upgrades by any measure." But the "competitive reality of the Tour’s new split-calendar schedule will leave these freshly emboldened fall stops with fields that look a lot like the fields they had when they were entrenched in the Tour’s no-man’s land" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 10/9).

ARE THERE ENOUGH BIG NAMES? In San Jose, Matt Schwab notes only one player in the World Golf Rankings top 30, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, is "in the field that will begin play" today at CordeValle Golf Club. PGA Tour Exec VP & COO Andy Pazder said, "Compared to last year's field, we've seen a very, very significant improvement in the middle of the field, kind of the meat of the field. You look at the 31 through 125 group of players from last year, and it's a much, much stronger field." Frys.com Open attendance last year was less than 40,000, and Tournament President Duke Butler said that he is "expecting at least that many this week." Frys.com "struggled to land the marquee players because the tournament comes on the heels of the Presidents Cup and a grueling 2013 season." But Butler said that a more favorable tour schedule in '13-14 "could bring in more big names" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/10). The AP's Ferguson notes while the field "might not look that strong on paper, odds are that will change." Last year eight PGA Tour members "took part in an exhibition in Turkey called the World Golf Finals, held the same week as the Frys.com Open." In exchange for "a release from the tour, they agreed to play the Frys.com Open at least once over the next three years." Those players were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar (AP, 10/9).

AN END OF AWKWARDNESS: ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote the move to a wraparound schedule "is a good one, even if we don't see a majority of big names competing." The simple way to handle it "would be to have no official PGA Tour events following the Tour Championship." But that "won't happen." The tour is about "offering playing opportunities, and it doesn't want to be on the sideline while Europe, Asia and Australia are offering those chances." So we have "these six tournaments, and if we're going to have them, they might as well count." It always was "awkward in the first six years of the FedEx Cup to have the Tour Championship followed by a handful of tournaments that counted toward the money list but not the FedEx Cup" (ESPN.com, 10/9).
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