Tour's restructuring gives players, fans a headache

By Jason SobelMarch 21, 2012, 8:35 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – I've made up my mind. I'm going to enter Q-School.

Oh, not the PGA Tour's annual qualifying tournament. That's going to cease to exist in its current form soon, one of myriad changes announced by commissioner Tim Finchem this week that will further complicate how the Tour operates.

Instead, this Q stands for Quizzical School, where ostensibly someone will explain how this whole things works. From full FedEx Cup points to a potential for half-points or quarter-points in certain events, from a season that starts in October and ends in September to the obliteration of that other Q-School as we know it, it’s becoming more difficult to follow the proceedings without an advanced degree in Finchemology.

Already, my head hurts. And I cover the PGA Tour for a living. Quite frankly, if I was a casual fan, this is the type of format change that could put me over the edge. Sure, I'd still watch the four majors and catch some entertaining final rounds, but when paying attention starts to feel like a homework assignment, that's when you've lost me.

Can’t imagine I’d be alone, either. Though there are certainly devotees who stand around the office water cooler on Tuesday afternoons breaking down potential FedEx Cup scenarios, the possibility of a more confusing points system will only serve as a bigger turnoff to those who don’t partake in NASA calculations during fun party games.

Now don’t get me wrong. Change in itself is rarely a bad thing and in this instance, the PGA Tour is changing for a reason. I have no doubt that the brass in Ponte Vedra Beach has crunched the numbers and believes this is the most prudent business model going forward – especially when it comes to finding a new title sponsor for the Nationwide Tour.

Of course, prudent business models and fan-friendly ones are hardly one and the same.

While many specifics of the newest restructure remain up in the air, it’s obvious that it won’t be a simplification of the process. Not only do the majority of fans not currently understand FedEx Cup points, many competitors continue to be baffled. One longtime pro told me this week that he doesn’t know how he accumulates points, doesn’t know how many are available on a given week and doesn’t know how many are needed to advance throughout the playoffs. And this is a player for whom they matter; he claimed enough points to reach the Tour Championship last year.

Meanwhile, one of the things to which every player and fan has always been able to relate – the romantic notion that any professional golfer can claim his full-time PGA Tour playing privileges through the six-round final stage of Q-School – will cease, instead becoming a three-event free-for-all between those 126th and lower on the money list and the top-75 on the Nationwide circuit.

If nothing else, the latest restructuring has been the subject of chatter inside the ropes and around the locker room, with some intelligent opinions and concern taking over.

“The core fundamentals of it are a good idea, but the details are going to have to be very precise,” explained Bobby Gates, who finished 126th on last year’s money list, but earned his card back through Q-School. “I don’t think they can afford to have a situation like they did with the FedEx Cup, where they keep tweaking and tweaking. This is someone’s livelihood. Some guy could miss out on making millions of dollars on the PGA Tour and being set for his life because somebody seeded him in the wrong spot.”

“It’s good for the players who are out here now,” Brendan Steele said. “I know that’s probably not a super popular opinion that I have there. But what I really like about it is that I think it saves the Fall Finish; it makes those exciting events. It gives them what they really need and deserve. Those are good events and they need FedEx points. That will pump up those fields.”

All good points and all certainly part of the driving force amongst backroom discussions toward making the PGA Tour more equitable to players and marketable to sponsors.

It’s the fans, though, who get screwed in this scenario. The NFL has been dubbed at times the No Fun League, but at least the nature of the game rewards those who win and penalizes those who don’t without much room for any grey area.

Even those who understand and approve of the changes can see that things will only get more complex for Joe Public.

“It does get more and more complicated with the addition of the FedEx Cup,” Steele admitted. “And now you’re talking about a season that spans two years. But the good news is, golf fans are golf fans. They’re going to come out to Bay Hill when it’s Bay Hill week. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the beginning of the season, middle of the season, whatever – it’s Bay Hill week. It’s a great week.”

That is true, but it’s the fan sitting on his couch at home, the one with a clicker in hand and 1,000 other channels from which to choose whom the PGA Tour should be worried about alienating. If confusing scenarios and mathematical projections were fun, the world would be a much different place – and the impending format would be an unabashed success.

Instead, that isn’t the case. There's a business motto employed by many companies and often incorporated into everyday life: Keep it simple, stupid. When formulating its new system, the PGA Tour forgot one of those words.

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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 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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.