Along with revamping the schedule to end the FedExCup Playoffs around Labor Day, the PGA Tour is "contemplating an overhaul" to the FedExCup finale, and one idea "floating around" is for the Tour Championship and the final day of the playoffs to be separated, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. The Tour Championship, the last of the playoff events that begins today at East Lake Golf Club near Atlanta, "could end on a Saturday." That would leave Sunday for the top players to "compete over 18 holes" to determine who gets the $10M FedExCup prize. One question is "how many players qualify for the final day." A "popular number making the rounds is six players." Jordan Spieth "buys into the idea that it would only add to the interest and to the TV ratings." His only concern is having "two big prizes -- the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup -- stacked on top of each other" (AP, 9/19). ESPN.com's Michael Collins wrote, "Let's say we finish the tournament on a Saturday late in September. What does that change? Are you getting more or new eyeballs? Let's say we have a shootout on Sunday between four guys playing for the big prize. Are sports fans switching over from a football game to watch? Nope" (ESPN.com, 9/20).
CALLING AN AUDIBLE? In Atlanta, Steve Hummer wrote the Tour should move the Tour Championship "out of the path of the football bullet train." Tournament Exec Dir Tom Clark said, "We’ve not been told anything different than (the speculation that’s) been printed. We’re obviously making a big pitch to move this to before Labor Day. I think that would really help us." Hummer notes to the "credit of those running the Tour Championship, they have not tried to ignore the realities of the setting." They "encourage players to wear their school colors on the college football Saturday." They also partnered with Chick-fil-A to "create a 'college corner' on the course." Clark said, "It would help the game of golf, help more people come out, grow the game, keep kids out here. Sunday before Labor Day would be ideal" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/20). In Chicago, Barry Rozner noted each year since the four-tournament playoffs began in '07, at least two events and sometimes three "conflicted with college and pro football, so the casual golf fan would end the season with the PGA Championship in August and move on without paying much attention to the postseason." It "defeated the purpose of the FedEx, which was to keep golf in the headlines and give the players a way to wrap up the season in style" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 9/20). Golf writer Geoff Shackelford said of this year's playoffs, "We’ve had this dream setup of big-name winners ... and yet it’s fallen flat. How do you compete with these first few weeks of college football? When you watch these games, you have no chance." The Ringer's Joe House: "Everybody is cognizant of how flaccid the moment feels because of all the competing sports interest. We’re two weeks away from the start of the baseball playoffs, college football is in full tilt. ... Having the professional golf season wrap up on Labor Day weekend is the only way for any of this to make any sense" (“Shackhouse Podcast,” THERINGER.com, 9/18).
NO IMMEDIATE CHANGES: ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote the Tour Championship "won't move around anytime soon, but it should." There is the "very viable argument that moving it around the country does a service to golf fans and players and adds a bit of spice to what is supposed to be a huge culmination to the PGA Tour season." Money "talks in all matters of sponsorship," and Coca-Cola and Southern Company, the "main sponsors of the event, are based in Atlanta." Hence, the "desire to keep the tournament near corporate headquarters," which is the case through at least '20. However, moving the tournament to "different venues -- at least every other year -- could create some excitement at other places" (ESPN.com, 9/20).
CHANGING THEIR TUNE: GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote winning the FedExCup has "fully evolved into an accomplishment that transcends even the most lofty expectations the PGA Tour had when it introduced its unique version of a playoff." Players may have "initially embraced the concept," but the FedExCup's place among the game’s "most coveted achievements was very much in flux." The $10M was "always attractive," but the FedExCup "wasn't necessarily high on players' priority lists." That notion "has changed, slowly but surely, as evidenced by this week’s field at East Lake and the level of play so far this postseason." Spieth said, "Players are probably more focused on the FedExCup than the Tour Championship" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 9/20).