Money Still Matters on PGA TOUR
Aside from claret jugs and green jackets, success in golf has been measured by money.
The PGA TOUR is now trying to convince you that money doesn't matter. And getting its players -- not to mention fans -- to believe that might be the toughest obstacle in this transition to the points-based FedExCup.
Joe Durant is switching irons for the first time in eight years, a process that took him close to a year. It's always a risk whenever a player tinkers with his equipment, and that's why Durant said he had to be absolutely sure he was doing the right thing.
'With where the purses are now and the chances we have week after week, you don't want to go out with equipment you're not comfortable with,' he said.
Wrong answer, Joe.
What he should have said was, 'With all the FedExCup points available week after week ...'
The PGA TOUR has 19 events this year with at least a $6 million purse, up from 13 events a year ago. Total prize money will approach $270 million, double what it was in 1999 when the first Tiger Woods-driven television contract began.
That's good news.
But for an organization that walks around with thumbs under its lapels, it treats this like no news at all.
Sunday morning at Kapalua, a PGA TOUR official was going over his notes when he mentioned the two milestones at stake for Singh, who had a three-shot lead. A victory would allow him to surpass Sam Snead for most victories in his 40s, and he would crack $50 million in career earnings. There was no mention of his 4,500 points to become the first FedExCup leader.
Money is a hard habit to break.
Tim Herron was 11 shots out of the lead going into the final round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, no chance to win.
'If I'm not in position to win a tournament, I play to make as much money as I can,' Herron said.
Did anyone really expect him to say he was playing for points?
'It's going to be confusing for a while,' David Toms said. 'You know what a top 10 does for you moneywise, but what's a top 10 do for you in points? That's something guys will have to figure out.'
Toms tied for eighth at Kapalua and earned 725 points, whatever that means. He also got $170,000, which could go toward buying his own sky box at LSU football games.
Yes, money still counts for something.
Money doesn't drive the best players, but it has always been the chief statistic associated with success. The tour still uses money to determine who keeps their cards.
'The reason we can play 19 events for $6 million is because we have a points race, because we've changed the structure of the tour, because we have a new TV contract,' Jim Furyk said. 'We need to promote that and get the public aware that we're playing for points. But it's going to be difficult. It's going to take awhile for the players to get used to.'
The tour is doing what it can to make the money list obsolete. The statistics it makes available to The Associated Press show leaders in the FedExCup standings, followed by their positions on the money list. Its hope is that newspapers will publish only the points, although the Honolulu Star-Bulletin ran only the top money leaders Tuesday.
And if the money list becomes passe, what becomes of the Arnold Palmer Trophy for winning the money title?
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said the trophy will be awarded at the end of the year -- FedExCup bonus money will not count toward the official money list -- and Furyk said it will remain a goal for most players.
'If it's got Arnold Palmer's name on it, it's going to be important,' Furyk said. 'It's not going to be the most important thing. It's not going to make me play more events. But it's still nice to win.'
The strangest part of the season is that the money list does matter -- but not right now.
All that counts for the first eight months are the FedExCup points. The top 144 advance to the 'playoffs,' and players gradually are eliminated until the top 30 advance to the Tour Championship, with a $10 million bonus (deferred money) going to the winner.
A week later, everything reverts to the money list.
The top 30 in FedExCup points are frozen. The tour will have a new exemption category starting in 2008 that ranks the top 30 from the FedExCup standing behind tournaments winners and ahead of the top 125 on the money list. They will be eligible for all the invitationals, no matter where they finish on the money list.
The Arnold Palmer Trophy won't be decided until after the seven tournaments in the fall, and whoever wins the FedExCup is not a lock to win the money title. As much as Singh plays, he could finish $2 million behind Woods through the FedExCup, play three times in the fall and finish ahead of him on the money list.
Still to be determined is whether the majors care more about money or points. They tour hopes they consider both.
The Masters, for example, currently invites the top 40 on the money list. It's entirely possible that someone who finishes 30th in the FedExCup winds up 58th on the money list. That might help the tour if players feel they have to play in the fall to qualify for majors.
Their success would be measured the old-fashioned way.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.