How will the economy affect the tours

By Rex HoggardJanuary 8, 2009, 5:00 pm
Just after breakfast on Sept. 23, 2008, President George W. Bush dispatched Vice President Dick Cheney to Capitol Hill in an attempt to sell Congress on the merits of the administrations $700 billion mortgage bailout fund. At nearly the same time PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was addressing a group of reporters at the circuits season-ending Tour Championship on the general health of the circuit.
 
The executives delivered vastly different messages.
 
Not that the Tour is immune to the financial malaise that has gripped the global economy. Its just that if youre looking for a buy sport during these difficult times, the Tour still has an IBM quality to it.
 
One of the things that happens in every recession I've been involved in is companies work harder at evaluating their investment, said Finchem, who served as an economist during the unsteady days of former President Jimmy Carters Administration.
 
That usually works to our benefit, because most companies we deal with are involved in multiple sports. On the value proposition we always pencil out very, very good. Every recession we've had we've come out stronger on the back end.
 
If Finchems bullishness seems misplaced, consider that while other sports scramble to shore up their financial positions, the Tour will feature the same number of FedEx Cup events in 2009 as it did in 08. There will be modest purse increases this year and more than half of the tournament title-sponsor agreements run through 2012, when the contracts with CBS and NBC end. The Tours contract with Golf Channel runs through 2022.
 
All this does not mean, however, the Tour is recession-proof.
 
It seems certain Finchem & Co. will have to diversify the circuits sponsorship portfolio to adjust for the overall financial instability. Financial institution and auto manufactures have historically accounted for a large portion of the circuits sponsorship model. These are the same institutions that have been the hardest hit by the current downturn.
 
Of the Tours 41 FedEx Cup events in 2008, 15 were either sponsored or presented by financial institutions. Five tournaments in 2008 were sponsored by auto manufacturers.
 
Any financial firm is backing off on any type of hospitality, said Gerald Goodman, the tournament director of the Transitions Championship near Tampa, Fla. They are examining every dime they are spending now and every tournament will feel that.
 
Sales of corporate tents at the Transitions are off between 20 percent and 50 percent, Goodman said, and The Sports Business Journal recently reported that spending on hospitality is off at 10 of the 14 first-quarter events this year.
 
It feels like the whole world has been cut by 30 percent, said Mark Brazil, the tournament director of the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
 
The general consensus is that the Tour will be dotted with fewer corporate hospitality tents and skyboxes while the economic landscape shifts. Its a reality that has forced organizers to become more creative if they are going to maintain the same level of amenities that players and fans have become accustomed to as well as the charitable contributions that are a cornerstone of the Tours mission.
 
You dont want your players and fans and the media showing up and saying, They have really cut here, Brazil said.
 
Goodman, whose event is in the first year of a four-year sponsorship agreement with Transitions, has cut ticket prices from around $55 to $45 for advanced-purchased daily packages to a flat rate of $40.
 
But the biggest hit individual tournaments are facing is the sale of corporate hospitality tents, an area that has historically been carried by the financial sector. As a result Brazil is marketing these big ticket items ' which include corporate chalets that can cost as much as $40,000 for the week ' to multiple clients instead of a single sponsor.
 
I would be surprised if any event went up in pricing, Brazil said. There has to be deals cut.
 
Many tournaments also must fill the courtesy car void that was left when Buick ' one of the Tours largest suppliers of courtesy cars - announced last year it would be scaling back on its commitment. Tournaments like the Transitions and John Deere Classic were left scrambling for replacement vehicles.
 
We figured it would cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to rent a fleet of vehicles, said John Deere tournament director Clair Peterson. That is not an insignificant amount of money, but who in the car industry are you going to go to?
 
Peterson filled the courtesy car void by pooling the resources of ten regional Chevy dealers, but other tournament directors are still searching.
 
Yet amid the economic handwringing that has become something of a national pastime, those on the Tours financial frontline are buoyed by a cautious optimism.
 
The Tour is in a much better spot than a lot of other sports, said Brazil, whose agreement with Wyndham runs through 2010. The bottom line is companies still need to advertise. They still need to get in front of people and were a very good way to accomplish that.
 

 

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  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: