Up until now, the needed adjustments to the FedExCup have been like the proverbial clich about the weather. Everybodys talked about them. But nobodys done anything.
Thing is, the 2008 season is less than four months away. And the PGA TOUR is acutely aware that it must research, develop and implement changes in a window of time that is closing as we speak.
The TOUR isnt talking publicly about the tweaks under consideration. Commissioner Tim Finchem is in Montreal for the Presidents Cup and wont turn his full attention to the 2008 FedExCup until he returns to the TOURs Florida headquarters next week.
But what Im hearing is that an important date on the timetable will be the final 2007 Policy Board meeting scheduled for Nov. 12-13 at Ponte Vedra Beach.
Tiger Woods, who always commands the TOURs attention when he speaks on any issue, recently talked about the need for more breathing room in the FedExCup Playoffs schedule.
Im told we can expect that subject to come up, front and center, when the Policy Board convenes. Specifically we can expect there will be discussion about the 2008 scheduling logjam that has the Ryder Cup matches beginning just five days after the conclusion of the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.
American Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger already is on record as wishing for different dates. I would like to think that the TOUR would have had a week off between the four or five events in a row that the guys have to play and the Ryder Cup, Azinger said not long ago. But they (the TOUR) didnt ask. Its just one of those things.
One tournament director told me the PGA of America, which owns and operates the Ryder Cup, was white hot when it first saw the 2008 schedule and the proximity of the Ryder Cup to the TOUR Championship.
But there has been a slight cooling off period. For starters, Azinger can take some solace from the fact that most, if not all, of his team will be in the field at East Lake in Atlanta for the TOUR Championship. That means his players wont be showing up for the Ryder Cup Matches in nearby Kentucky coming off a long layoff.
I think it could end up being very positive, Azinger said. Our guys will be playing their way right in.
One thing Finchem cant do'barring a last minute sleight of scheduling hand that would make David Copperfield blush'is put more space in the 2008 schedule between the TOUR Championship and the Ryder Cup. Too many title sponsors already have the dates on their calendars. And then theres the matter of the Ryder Cup not being a TOUR run event.
Meanwhile Henry Hughes, the TOURs point man on player relations, will be actively involved in outreaching to the players between now and the end of the year. Its interesting to note any point system tweaks will have to be in place by Jan. 1. But changes to the four-week playoff system could, if approved, be implemented after the 2008 season begins but before The Playoffs start.
Meanwhile, the UKs Observer is reporting that European Tour boss George OGrady is already talking about an answer to the FedExCup Playoffs.
It would involve a bonus points system. It would be lucrative. And it would require Europes top players to invest more of their time on that tour to be eligible for the financial carrot at the end of the stick.
In money terms, the PGA TOUR in America remains the Holy Grail for the pro golfer, OGrady told The Observer. But while there are always people going over there to try their luck there is also a steady stream of players coming back here.
The bonus system, as currently envisioned, would not include a bonus system per se. But it would incent players to play European Tour events in October, November and December at a time when they would be competing with the post-FedExCup Fall Series events in the U.S.
The system could be in place as early as 2009. And the weather problems could be solved by concentrating the venues in the Far East, especially China where golf continues to boom. The European Tour has never been bashful about staging big events outside the geographical boundaries of Europe proper.
Actually there was no phone call at all from International team captain Gary Player to inform Australias Aaron Baddeley that he wouldnt be a captains pick for the team that will take on the Americans in Montreal this week. The call came instead from countryman Ian Baker-Finch.
Baddeley probably played himself off of Players short list when he blew to a final-round 80 at the U.S. Open in June after sleeping on the lead Saturday night.
But since then Baddeley has recovered quite nicely. And his current position in the world rankings (No. 20) puts him ahead of three members (Stuart Appleby, Nick OHern and Mike Weir) on Players team.
Aaron never expected anything other than to make the team on the points, said his manager, Jens Beck. In hindsight now, Gary Player probably would have picked him.
Most impressive was the way Baddeley stood up to Woods on the final day of the BMW Championship, shooting a Sunday 66 but finishing second when Woods came up with the goods and a closing 63.
Beck said Baddeley took positives away from Oakmont rather than negatives. Specifically, leading after 54 holes at the U.S. Open told Baddeley he was good enough to compete against big time fields on big time golf courses.
Meanwhile Baddeley, who continues to refine his game under the tutelage of stack and tilt teachers Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, says he fully expects to make the International side for the 2009 Presidents Cup.
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