PGA Tour applying the 'more is more' philsophy

By Jason SobelAugust 19, 2014, 8:00 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Consider it a Catch-22. Or a double-edged sword. Or just an example of the PGA Tour being a victim of its own success.

When the FedEx Cup playoff format was introduced in 2006 and implemented one year later, commissioner Tim Finchem offered two major benefits to players and fans alike: It would allow the schedule to end before the meaty part of the lionized football season and it would offer everyone an opportunity to enjoy an offseason away from the game before it geared back up again.

In effect, the PGA Tour was attempting to enact a less-is-more philosophy.

Think about how it’s worked for football. From February through August, the game hibernates and plans its impending attack on our loyalties. Fans pine for the pigskin when it’s gone, and then celebrate its arrival with the fervency of most holidays. Year after year, again and again, the cyclical nature of the game dangles a gratuitous carrot in front of our noses and lets us take a significant bite, only to run off again and leave us chasing.

That’s never been the case in golf – and it won’t be anytime soon.

This season’s schedule of 45 tournaments has already increased to 47 for next season, with Finchem revealing, “We’re looking at one more.”

The commissioner’s optimistically tinged self-fulfilling prophecy of eight years ago has effectively stalled. While the first two playoff events – this week’s Barclays and next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship – conclude prior to the NFL’s opening week, the final two are directly up against what Finchem knows all too well is an unbeatable Sunday ratings behemoth.

The Barclays: Articles, videos and photos

Meanwhile, the duration between the last putt of this season and the first tee shot of the next one is exactly 22 days – and, oh by the way, that “offseason” happens to include a little thing called the Ryder Cup.

You get the drift. The carrot isn’t dangling in front of our noses. It’s being stuffed down our throats.

“The difference between now and when we talked about that originally is that we now start a new season,” Finchem explained Tuesday. “The season’s over. So it’s really still about the same variables for a player. How many tournaments are you going to play over the course of a season?”

The result – not that Finchem will admit it – has been a heavily diluted product because of so many inconsistencies. Every top player competes at the major championships and The Players. Just about every one of them plays in at least three WGC events. Same goes for all four playoff tournaments, although coming weeks might prove that prediction a little too hopeful.

Other tournaments simply fall in line under the next tier. Three top-10 players one week; seven of the top-20 the next week; 16 of the top-50 after that. Unlike NASCAR, another sports league for an individual sport, there’s no consistency with elite competitors vying against each other on a weekly basis, leaving the PGA Tour in a sense of athletic purgatory.

But therein lies the Catch-22.

Before we criticize Finchem and those in Camp Ponte Vedra too harshly, it should be noted that their navigation of choppy waters during the economic recession was nothing less than masterful. In a sport dependent on sponsors ponying up millions of dollars each week to hold the competition, they not only treaded these waters but witnessed continued growth throughout.

No sports executive in his right mind would turn down an incoming flow of income. None would retract when expansion is a clear possibility.

And that’s exactly what’s happened with the PGA Tour since the FedEx Cup playoffs were first implemented. That’s why the final few events of the season will run opposite the beginning of the football bonanza, why there’s hardly any space between one season’s end and the next one’s beginning and why golf never feels like it ever goes away.

It’s also why it won’t change anytime soon, either.

“We felt like if the playoffs got to be interesting enough, we could carry our audience pretty well for a few weeks into football and that’s materialized,” Finchem said. “So we like the positioning of the dates.”

When speaking on another topic Tuesday, the commissioner also stated, “I’m always of the view that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Clearly, that’s the attitude toward the current schedule. From a sponsorship standpoint, supply is exceeding previous demand, which has in turn led to greater supply.

Eight years after the FedEx Cup format was first introduced, this remains an example of the PGA Tour being a victim of its own success. Call it a problem, but it’s hardly the worst problem to have.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x