Finchem Optimistic for FedExCups Fall Finish
Just more than a year ago, Tiger Woods and John Daly squared off in a sudden-death playoff at Harding Park, a refurbished public golf course along the shores of Lake Merced that staged a World Golf Championship. It sounded like a rock concert and felt like a major. And it delivered the kind of drama rarely seen this side of August.
They slugged it out down the stretch with an awesome display of power, a duel ultimately determined by a 3-foot putt Daly missed on the second extra hole to hand Woods his sixth and final PGA TOUR victory of the year.
'I don't think there are a lot of people watching NFL football right now,' Daly said, and the room erupted in laughter.
But the joke was on golf.
ABC Sports got only a 2.8 rating for that Sunday afternoon, and that was the second-highest rated golf tournament of the fall. The highest was a 3.0 at the Presidents Cup, which featured Woods, Phil Mickelson and a U.S. team trying to win for captain Jack Nicklaus.
All of which leads to an important question as the PGA TOUR looks ahead to 2007.
How can the FedExCup possibly top that?
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was looking to create interest in the end of the year when he came up with the FedExCup competition, a season-long points race that culminates with golf's version of the playoffs. The idea is for the top players to compete in three 'playoff' events starting Aug. 23 and ending Sept. 16 at the TOUR Championship, with $10 million going to the winner.
The concept has merit. Anyone who thinks this is a bad idea hasn't been paying attention to golf in the fall -- or maybe they're among the few who have been paying attention, because not many watch golf after the PGA Championship (or before football starts).
'If you're not going forward, you're going backward,' Finchem said. 'All the other sports are investing millions of dollars in being more competitive with each other and with us, and you have to continue to find ways to connect with the fan.'
The FedExCup is taking golf forward.
A year ago at the TOUR Championship, the rating was 1.9, and that was with Woods in the field (albeit six shots behind Bart Bryant). The rating plunged to a paltry 0.9 this year when Woods skipped for the first time in his career.
Next year can get only better.
If nothing else, this adds another element to the PGA TOUR season that will not be decided until the TOUR Championship, no matter how many majors or tournaments a player (Woods comes to mind) might win.
The PGA TOUR further helped itself Tuesday by deciding to reduce the field each week during the playoff tournaments. The playoffs will start with 144 players at the Barclays Classic, drop to 120 players for the Deutsche Bank Championship, and only 70 players will advance to the BMW Open in Chicago. The Tour Championship still gets the top 30 players chasing the $10 million prize.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether the FedExCup represents a baby step or a quantum leap.
One gets the impression from the marketing machine at the PGA TOUR that the FedExCup is the greatest concept in golf since Bobby Jones built a golf course on a former nursery in Augusta, Ga., and invited his friends to play a tournament each spring.
Realistically, it might be the best concept since the World Golf Championships began in 1999, and the novelty wore off about four years later. It was cool to have the top 50 or the top 64 players in the world competing against each other, but now they do that at least eight times a year. Add to that the FedExCup playoff series, and they could be competing against each other as often as 12 times a year.
What's important is to keep expectations at reasonable levels.
If two of the biggest draws in golf (Woods and Daly) produced only a 2.8 rating in a playoff, how is it going to get better with Woods, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia trying to pile up points as they position themselves in the FedExCup? And that's assuming the stars play their best. The fear is that the FedExCup comes down to Zach Johnson and Troy Matteson.
Plus, it would be a mistake for TOUR officials to think that the FedExCup will determine the player of the year.
If someone were to win two majors (again, Woods come to mind since he has done that four times) and far more tournaments heading into the playoffs, it would be foolish to think he would not be voted player of the year.
Golf still is defined by the four majors.
Instead of comparing the FedExCup to NASCAR and its Nextel Cup, think of golf in the same terms as horse racing.
Fame is found at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. And at the end of the year is the lucrative Breeders' Cup, a showcase of the best horses.
And during the Breeders' Cup, most people are watching football.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.