PGA TOUR in Search of a Big Bang Theory

By Associated PressOctober 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Davis Love III and Lucas Glover were hitting balls next to each other Tuesday when a few more players showed up and started making arrangements to join them for a practice round at the TOUR Championship.
 
Love wanted to make sure Glover didn't mind a crowd.

'Did you want to go off as two, or do you want three, four?' he asked quietly.
 
Glover said a foursome was fine, and as Love walked back to his spot on the range, he smiled and said, 'That's a fourth of the field.'
 
Not quite, but it sure seems that way.
 
For the second straight year, the talk at the TOUR Championship is more about who's not at East Lake than the 27 guys who decided to show up for free money and a BMW courtesy car. The field is the smallest in the 20-year history of the season-ending event.
 
Most noticeable is the absence of Tiger Woods.
 
Citing fatigue after an emotionally taxing year in which his father died and he won just about every week he played, Woods skipped the TOUR Championship for the first time.
 
The timing could not have been worse for the tour brass.
 
It has been touting its new FedExCup competition that starts in 2007 and will culminate with three big tournaments leading to the TOUR Championship, where the winner of the points race earns $10 million. The idea is to get most -- if not all -- of the big stars competing every week at the end of the year.
 
Some will jump to the conclusion that this is a bad sign for the future of the FedExCup. After all, how can the tour expect to get the stars to come out every week at the end of next season when Woods and Phil Mickelson won't even show up for the TOUR Championship?
 
There is cause for alarm, but not for that reason.
 
Woods said on his Web site he was 'extremely excited' about the FedExCup, and for the most part, the feeling is universal among his peers. Golf had been getting stale, and commissioner Tim Finchem did the right thing in searching for a solution.
 
The FedExCup will only help golf, although it's debatable how much.
 
The only drawback is the seven tournaments in the fall after the FedExCup, but let's face it -- those events were bordering on insignificant already. They didn't get any top players, the galleries were sparse and the ratings were abysmal. At least now those tournaments have a purpose for those trying to get their cards, get into the Masters or start their year at Kapalua.
 
The question is how long before the FedExCup generates as much excitement as this year's TOUR Championship.
 
Finchem said he was looking for a finish line in golf with the FedExCup. Football has the Super Bowl, baseball has the World Series and golf ... well, golf never has had a season that is easy to define.
 
It starts with the Mercedes-Benz Championship in January, but some believe it really doesn't start until the first major is played at the Masters. It ends with the TOUR Championship, but some might argue -- Mickelson comes to mind -- that it really ends at the PGA Championship when the majors are over.
 
Remember, the tour has been down this road before.
 
This is the 20-year anniversary of the Vantage Championship, which was created to add some pop to the end of the season. The $1 million purse was enormous in 1986. There was a $500,000 bonus to the winner of a season-long points competition, along with a $25,000 bonus to the player who led each of the nine statistical categories.
 
That was the precursor to the TOUR Championship.
 
'It was done to help the fields at the end of the year,' Curtis Strange once 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 into it.'
 
Sound familiar?
 
The success of the FedExCup depends on how it is received not next year, but the following years when the novelty wears off. Does it go the route of the TOUR Championship and take on an air of insignificance? Does it reach a point where $10 million is chump change?
 
No matter how the tour promotes the FedExCup, greatness in golf is defined four weeks out of the year. And those four weeks are in April, June, July and August, not the tail end of the season with a $10 million prize that likely will be deferred.
 
'It's not just about the majors now,' Stewart Cink tried to explain on Tuesday. 'We're talking about the whole season, where you're trying to beat your peers. To me, that means a lot.'
 
So, Stewart, would you rather win a major or the FedExCup?
 
'I probably would rather win a major,' he said, 'because I've never won one yet.'
 
Don't read anything more into Woods missing the TOUR Championship. It has been an extraordinary year of highs and lows, and he indicated to a couple of players at the American Express Championship that he was done for the year. If not for previously signed contracts in Asia, he probably would not have played again until his Target World Challenge.
 
Expect to see Woods nearly every week during the FedExCup 'playoffs' next year. For one thing, he owes it to the tour as much as he barked about the need for a shorter season that ends in late September. He likely will skip a few tournaments he normally plays the first half of the year to get ready for a big finish.
 
And even if misses one of the 'playoff' events, will that mean the FedExCup is a flop?
 
Hardly.
 
Those tournaments will still get enough top players to have accomplished its mission of trying to keep golf compelling after the majors.
 
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  • Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.