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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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.