Notes PGA Tour Schedule JackTiger Comparisons

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PGA Tour (75x100)Four years ago, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem arrived at the British Open having just completed another four-year television deal that approached $1 billion.
 
He spent this British Open in a series of meetings, and progress was said to be mixed.
 
Finchem is contemplating a massive overhaul of the PGA Tour schedule that would shorten the season and bring more attention to golf during the latter part of the year when it goes up against football. The tour might not be ready to present its final proposal to the networks until the final few months of the year, at the earliest.
 
According to four sources involved in the discussions, the model getting the most attention is a season that ends in September with the Tour Championship, coupled with a points race similar to NASCAR. The sources, said qualifying would take place through the PGA Championship, followed by a series of blockbuster tournaments to qualify for the Tour Championship.
 
Finchem was in meetings Monday afternoon and could not be reached for comment. Nothing has been decided, anyway, and he is sifting through as many as a half-dozen models.
 
But what emerged from a week in St. Andrews was major shifting of big tournaments, and perhaps the PGA Championship moving up one week in the schedule to early August to allow the tour time for its grand finale.
 
The sources, who are involved in discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity, said The Players Championship was virtually a lock to move from late March to May, and that it would be the week after the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow. The Tour Championship, held each year at East Lake in Atlanta, would come after the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston.
 
The sources said Finchem might try to move the American Express Championship - typically played in September in either the United States or Europe - to March to fill the Players' void, meaning it likely would be held in Florida. Another world event, the Accenture Match Play Championship, appeared headed from soggy La Costa Resort outside San Diego to Tucson, Ariz. starting in 2007.
 
There had been talk about starting the subsequent season in the fall after the Tour Championship, just like is done on the European tour. But a management source and the tournament director said the tour has abandoned that idea.
 
Instead, the final month or so of the season could be broadcast by The Golf Channel, a niche cable outlet, which would mean smaller purses and weaker fields, but still allow lower ranked players a chance to earn money without affecting the top of the money list.
 
Still to be determined is whether the PGA Tour can get involved with official events overseas, particularly in the booming markets of Asia.
 
And it could all change when the tour starts to inform the players of its plans in early September. But weeklong meetings at St. Andrews began to make it clear that the 2007 schedule won't look anything like it does now.
 
COMPARING GENERATIONS
Leaving the press center the day Jack Nicklaus missed the cut, Tiger Woods was asked what Nicklaus did better than him during his career.
 
After a long pause, Woods settled on the long irons.
 
'He hit long irons better than I did,' Woods said. 'Then again, he hit a lot more of them because of technology.'
 
Nicklaus is famous for his 1-iron, a club Woods has never hit as a pro. The Golden Bear hit the flag on the 17th at Pebble Beach in 1972 for a birdie that clinched his third U.S. Open. On the 18th at Baltusrol in 1967, a 230-yarder - uphill into the wind - set up a finishing birdie to tie the Open scoring record.
 
Woods' best shot with a long iron was probably his 3-iron from a bunker on the 18th hole at Hazeltine in the '02 PGA Championship, over a tree and into 12 feet for birdie.
 
Was there anything Woods does better? This time, there was no hesitation.
 
'Short game,' Woods said. 'I wasn't good like him growing up. I had to have one.'
 
Nicklaus has often said he never worked much on his short game, primarily because he didn't have to.
 
FUTURE OPENS
The Royal & Ancient is leaning toward bringing the British Open back to Turnberry for 2009, but first it wants to see some dirt.
 
The Open has become too big for the small road into Turnberry, which is located about 25 miles south of Royal Troon. It has not held the championship since Nick Price won in 1994.
 
Town officials have pledged to build a short loop that would provide two routes to the course. Construction is to begin this fall, and the R&A next meets in September.
 
'Once the road is built, then the championship committee will take a view whether to take the Open to Turnberry in 2009,' said David Hill, the R&A's director of championships. 'It's planned, but we'd like to see construction work.'
 
St. Andrews has not been announced for 2010, but that's only a matter of time. The Open has nine links courses on its rotation, and chief executive Peter Dawson said the R&A prefers to take it to each links every 10 years, twice every 10 years at St. Andrews.
 
'I think the world of golf likes to come to St. Andrews with reasonable frequency,' he said.
 
There's one other reason to return to St. Andrews in 2010: That will be the 150th anniversary of the British Open.
 
SURPRISE VISITOR
Amy Alcott has only been a spectator at two majors, and both were momentous occasions for Jack Nicklaus.
 
One was the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol, where Nicklaus won for the fourth time. The other was last week at St. Andrews for the British Open, where he played his 164th and final major.
 
Alcott has no special connection to Nicklaus, except for meeting him when she was a rising star in high school.
 
'I asked him if I should go to college or turn pro, and he told me, 'Absolutely I should go to college.' It was the best piece of advice I never followed,' Alcott said with a laugh.
 
She won the first of 29 tournaments as a 19-year-old rookie and made it into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
 
DIVOTS
John Daly tied for 15th at the British Open, his best finish at a major championship since he won in 1995 at St. Andrews. ... Tiger Woods and Bernhard Langer were the only players to break par all four rounds at the British Open. It was the sixth time Woods has done it in a major. ... What kind of impact did Michelle Wie have on the John Deere Classic? One study showed she was responsible for $300,000 in ticket sales and concessions.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
There were more eagles on the par 4s (21) than the par 5s (18) last week in the British Open at St. Andrews.
 
FINAL WORD
'If you didn't look at what Michelle Wie was doing, you'd have peculiar vision.' - Martin Kippax, championship chairman of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
 
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