SBD/November 18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Questions Remain On Whether PGA Tour Starting New Season Early Was Successful

PGA Tour officials think early season events need time to catch on
The abbreviated portion of the PGA Tour's new '13-14 wraparound schedule concluded yesterday with the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, and while the six tournaments felt a "little like an opening act before a big concert ... it beats the sound of silence that came before," according to Ron Green Jr. of the GLOBAL GOLF POST. If the new schedule was designed to "attract more stars to events like the McGladrey Classic and Mayakoba, let's generously say that remains a work in progress." TV ratings on Golf Channel also "offer room for growth." Sponsors of the fall tournaments "were promised more relevance to their events," and in a "technical sense, they got that." But it is "going to take some time" for these events to feel like full-fledged Tour stops. PGA Tour Exec VP & COO Andy Pazder said, "It's going to take some time to catch on." However, Green notes for rank-and-file players, the "new starting line is a good thing," as they will have a "good jump on the expanded season even if this year doesn't feel like next year yet" (GLOBAL GOLF POST, 11/18 issue). GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussed whether the new schedule was a "worthy experiment, a dismal failure or somewhere in between." Golf magazine's Joe Passov said, "I'm not convinced this setup was one ounce more compelling than the old Fall Series. To me, it just confuses matters going forward." SI's Alan Shipnuck: "If nothing else, it created a strong Asian swing, an important colonization for the PGA Tour." Golf.com's Jeff Ritter: "My impression is that they simply wanted to lock up sponsors for these events, and the scheduling wrinkle was created to close a few business deals. In that case, mission accomplished." SI's Michael Bamberger: "You surely cannot call it a failure after one year. It will take years for us to really accept this new definition of the golf season. It's inherently awkward, but it can work" (GOLF.com, 11/17).

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM: In Abu Dhabi, Steve Elling reports the European Tour has "extended by three years its commitment to complete the season points race in Dubai." The tour will "end in Dubal through 2017, and at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the only venue the season-ending DP World Tour Championship has known, but the Race to Dubai format faces an overhaul." The tour also is "moving ahead with plans" to open a satellite HQs at Jumeirah. DP World is "signed as the title sponsor through 2014, but it would be a surprise if the company did not maintain its relationship, based on all the signals." Meanwhile, the "future of the Final Series design is far less certain." European Tour CEO George O'Grady said that he was "personally 'disappointed,' a term he used several times, that top stars Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel skipped the event this week because of issues over the inaugural Final Series design, which required players to enter two of the preceding three events leading into the DP World finale." O'Grady said that the tour would "take the next few weeks to survey players about the design and that there would be no rush to judgement" (Abu Dhabi NATIONAL, 11/18).
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