Finchem Hints at Schedule Makeover

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods might get his wish on a shorter season, although the PGA Tour is still months away from deciding how much it will change its schedule, if at all.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that moving the Tour Championship to September was under consideration as a way to make the end of the year more compelling.
But he cautioned that it was too early to speculate, adding that an earlier end to the official season was one of seven models the tour is studying before it begins negotiating a new television contract later in the year.
We may forward a schedule at the end of the year that looks very similar to what we currently do, Finchem said. We may forward a schedule that looks significantly different. It may be somewhere in between.
His comments came one day after the annual players meeting at The Players Championship, where the commissioner tried to shed some insight on where the tour was headed under a new TV contract.
On another topic, Finchem said he was working on additional guidelines that would clear up any perception of appearance money on the PGA Tour.
He said those guidelines would not have a chilling effect on corporate sponsors trying to put on Monday outings or on players trying to make extra money.
Prize money has risen dramatically from the last two contracts, from $96 million in 1998 to an estimated $252 million this year. Both four-year deals were negotiated at a time when Woods brought attention to the sport by winning the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, and becoming the first player to four win straight professional majors in 2001.
But the networks have said they are losing money from the last contract, estimated at about $950 million, and much of the focus has fallen on tournaments in September and October, which compete against football and get low television ratings.
Finchem is intrigued by what NASCAR did last year with its Chase to the Championship, in which the top 10 drivers advanced to what amounts to a 10-race showdown at the end of the year.
The Tour Championship is played at East Lake in Atlanta the first week of November.
Theres a consideration that we might want to play the Tour Championship earlier, Finchem said. But I have about seven different models that involve how we handle the end of the season and different aspects of the season.
Woods and Phil Mickelson have argued in recent weeks that the season is too long, starting in Hawaii the first week of January and ending just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
For the future and growth and health of our tour, were too strung out, Woods said Wednesday. What other sport plays 10 months? And that includes some weeks with two tournaments.
Left unclear is what would happen with the rest of the PGA Tour events.
Among the possibilities is starting a new season in the previous calendar year, which is what the European PGA Tour has done since joint-sanctioning events in Asia and Australia. The first event of the 2005 season in Europe was the Volvo China Open the last week in November.
Ending the season early also might give the tour an opportunity to co-sanction tournaments overseas. Woods said events in South Africa, Asia and Australia were under consideration.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month in California, Finchem said he was looking at aligning the PGA Tour with other tours in terms of joint-sanctioned events.
Well probably do more joint-sanctioned events in the future, he said at the Match Play Championship. Wed like to play some more golf in Asia. Wed like to get down south a little bit. I dont know how it plays out.
Appearance money is not allowed on the PGA Tour, although it became an issue last month when the Ford Championship at Doral paid $600,000 for the foursome of Goosen, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh to take part in a corporate outing with Ford dealers the Monday of the tournament.
Then, Golf World magazine obtained a proposal from IMG in which it offered a price list for top players to go to such outings, with a pledge they would look favorably upon playing in the tournament.
He was vague about any changes to the regulation.
We have regulations that relate to appearance money, and those
are fine, he said. In addition to that, we probably need some guidelines that relate to situations that create the perception of appearance money.
They will be guidelines that will give us an assurance ... that were not gravitating toward appearance money in our sport, and I think when you see them, that will come through.
Mark Steinberg, head of the North American golf division for IMG, said the agency would continue working with PGA Tour sponsors looking for entertainment options.
But we have also, because of the controversy, mutually decided to put on hold the execution of these events until further clarification, Steinberg said. We have no intention of violating regulations or policies, nor do we think weve done that.
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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

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    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.

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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.