PGA Tour Looking for its Own World Series
What the PGA Tour wants is a World Series, its own version of a Fall Classic.
Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is pulling together the final pieces of a radical shift in the schedule to feature a shorter season and a points race that intensifies after the majors. The plan is for three blockbuster events to qualify for the Tour Championship, with perhaps a $10 million payoff to the winner.
Multiple sources involved in the discussion, all speaking on condition of anonymity because the changes have not been announced, say the three tournaments will be the Barclays Classic in New York, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston and the Western Open in Chicago.
Still undecided is a title sponsor for the Western Open, with Chrysler in negotiations over the weekend.
Finchem will give his ``State of the Tour'' on Wednesday at the Tour Championship, although he might only be able to provide an outline of the proposed changes.
``I'm not quite sure what I'm going to say,'' Finchem said in an interview. ``We've got so many things going on. Given where we are, on the brink of going to TV (negotiations), I don't want to mislead anyone. But I want to give folks a broad sense of what we're looking at.''
A PGA Tour source said Finchem might be in position to announce The Players Championship moving from the end of March to the beginning of May, which would give golf a major event every month from April to August.
The changes are designed to put some sizzle into the end of the year, when TV ratings plummet as golf struggles to compete against football.
Finchem believes golf can hold its own in September when football is just getting started, and would fare much better than in early November when the Tour Championship typically is held. He was inspired by higher ratings the last two months at the Presidents Cup, which came down to the final match, and the American Express Championship, where Tiger Woods beat John Daly in a playoff.
``Good tournaments can compete and perform very nicely,'' Finchem said. ``And the Tour Championship doesn't do that bad, but it's too far removed. It reinforced to us that if you put something special out there, we can carry the audience with us into September. And if it's a strong enough finish, then the season becomes more important.''
This isn't the first time the tour has tried to revamp the end of the year.
It created the Vantage Championship in 1986, which offered a $1 million purse -- enormous in those days -- along with a $500,000 bonus to the winner of a season-long points competition. Also available was a $25,000 bonus for leading each of the nine statistical categories.
The event was tweaked a year later. The Nabisco Championship -- the precursor to the Tour Championship -- again offered massive prize money and a separate payoff for the points race, only all the money counted as official.
``When it first was played in 1987, it was a huge deal,'' said Curtis Strange, whose playoff victory over Tom Kite at Pebble Beach in the 1988 Nabisco determined the money title and made him golf's first $1 million man.
``It was done to help the fields at the end of the year,'' he said. ``The top players didn't play any more than they would have. But guys from (Nos.) 25 to 50 did everything in their power to get in it.''
The Tour Championship has lost some of its buzz in recent years. Its prize money, $6.5 million this year, is less than the World Golf Championships ($7.5 million) and not much more than tournaments such as the Wachovia Championship. Plus, the Tour Championship has not decided player of the year seven out of the last 10 years.
The new model would not allow for that.
Woods already has won two majors, two World Golf Championships and has clinched the money title. One source privy to the discussion said under the new model, points would be adjusted after the PGA Championship so that up to 70 players would still have a chance to qualify for the Tour Championship and win the points chase.
The source said the latest proposal is for the points race to start at the season-opening Mercedes Championships and run through the PGA Championship. Then, points would be staggered for the final month of the season, much like NASCAR's Chase for the championship.
The Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone would switch to the week before the PGA Championship instead of the week after. That means players like Woods or Phil Mickelson might have to compete in six events in seven weeks.
``We kind of have to if you want to have a chance of the playoff system, especially toward the end of the year,'' Woods said. ``If you're playing well, you're going to have to play them all.''
Woods has met with Finchem at least four times this year, and presumably has signed off on the changes.
The one fear about change is getting rid of tournaments that have languished in the fall with bad fields and low TV ratings. But as the tour gets closer to its finished product, it appears more likely that those events will be played after the Tour Championship and give some players a chance to still finish in the top 125 and keep their cards. In fact, two sources said the tour might add an event in Northern California, and a title sponsor already has been found.
It's all part of a plan to make golf compelling beyond the four majors.
``There has always been this challenge, having as long a season as we have, trying to define it for the fan,'' Finchem said. ``The reason the other sports find it easy is because their season is always about the end. We need a culminating event that's special, and that you have to play hard to get into.''
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
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