Finally Football in Peace


OK, the news is finally out. Rumored since the beginning of summer, and taken as almost fact in the past few weeks, the PGA Tour is a ship sailing a new course.
The Skipper is commissioner Tim Finchem, whos apparently had his TiVo box tied to Extreme Makeover for the last few seasons.
Give him credit ' a lot of it ' for risking the status quo that has kept the PGA Tour running like a champ for years and attempting to take it to a new level.
The PGA Tour schedule in 2007 will take some getting used to. A season-long points race called the FedEx Cup will run from January into August, allowing for 144 to qualify for a championship series of four events culminating with the Tour Championship.
Three of those events will be played in big market towns like Boston, New York and most likely Chicago, where the 144-player fields will basically play off for the right to get to the Tour Championship and play for some serious cash.
Make no mistake about it. Football won, and golf lost. Golf, no matter who was playing, just couldnt make a dent into the fall season dominated by the NFL and the NCAA.
In short, Tiger couldnt compete with the support given to Auburn, Clemson and the Missouri Tigers. Ben Crane couldnt hold a candle to Ben Roethlisberger. John Daly can play all he wants, but Jon Gruden is still a more popular figure in the fall television landscape.
So if you were the PGA Tour, what would you have done? Appeasing sponsors and networks who shell out big bucks for the product needed more.
The PGA Tour hiked up its boots and basically hitched up to the bumper of NASCAR. A points race to keep interest. A chance to have every week mean something. A chance to have the collective stars play in the same fields more often.
Time will tell if folks buy into what the PGA Tour and commissioner Tim is selling. But for now, I like it. And I like the thinking from the PGA Tour.
Tiger, Phil and Vijay might be done after the Tour Championship. But that wont mean an end to the rest of the calendar. And the rank-and-file, who has the same chance as the above mentioned stars to earn FedEx Cup points throughout the year, still gets about seven events after Labor Day in what will be called the Quest for the Card series.
Will those seven events get the same publicity as the earlier events leading up to the big bang finish? No, certainly not. But for PGA Tour card holders, its the same opportunity as has always been there to earn a living and keep you a part of the tour in the following year.
If you like the story of the player hoping to keep his job, the remainder of the schedule after the Tour Championship will remain about the same. Plenty of pressure and a good dose of name players. Vijay wont shut it down and he wont be alone. Dont worry.
Truth be told, Im a huge football fan. Like many, college football dominates my thinking in the fall as the BCS race overtakes the PGA race.
But I guarantee you that the FedEx Cup race will be getting plenty of attention as pro and college teams gear up for the start of their seasons. And thats what Finchem and Woods and Singh and Mickelson want.
Give us a chance at the front page, they might say.
I think theyll get it. Football wins one battle. But golf, while not so stubborn to stand its ground and lose, has chosen to fight on with a new purpose.
Good luck. At this point, Im all for it. I hope Im not alone.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann