For the second consecutive week there will be no cut on the PGA Tour, an anomaly brought to you by the FedEx Cup and unfavorable forecasts. In the media biz, however, the last seven days easily qualify as a heavy news week with enough celebrations and revelations to fill the void left by two anguish-free Fridays.
World Golf Championships. OK, this week’s HSBC Champions won’t be doling out official money or FedEx Cup points and, after Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, is missing a few “who’s” from America’s “who’s who” list of top players, but after a largely insular existence this week’s stop in Shanghai is a good start for the WGC concept.
The WGCs were in danger of losing “world” from the preface considering just six of the 33 official-money world events had been played outside the friendly confines. But there are 1.33 billion reasons why this week’s event at Mission Hills has potential.
“Growing the game” was this season’s buzz words and China’s estimated population (1.33 billion) leaves a lot of room for growth.
World Golf Hall of Fame. Despite the curious conflict with Doug Barron’s performance-enhancing drug bombshell, the induction ceremony on Monday was emotional and enlightening, particularly Arnold Palmer’s recollections of meeting and playing golf with Hall o Fame inductee and former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Golf’s Hall of Fame may still have room for improvement – one suggestion to move the induction event to the week before the Players Championship was particularly interesting – and may not be Cooperstown just yet, but it’s still a good show. And considering Monday’s fireworks, that’s saying something.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Viking Classic. The only viking that was classic last week wears purple, is older than dirt and ripped the heart of the Green Bay faithful.
But then there wasn’t much Tour officials could do with more than 20 inches of rain in the last 20 or so days – don’t storms that big normally come with a name? Yet with a “bye” week this week and so many season-ending money list implications on the line couldn’t officials have delayed their decision a few days.
Essentially, the Viking Classic had a 14-day window to play 54 meaningful holes and things have gotten better at Annandale Golf Club since the Tour bolted. On Thursday, officials at the golf course said it hadn’t rained since Saturday and the golf course was reopened to members on Wednesday with no restrictions or adjustments to the layout.
Nobody wants to spend a few extra days in Madison, but with so many players vying for their livelihood it seems like it was worth the wait.
Loopholes. It’s beginning to seem like the PGA Tour policy book has more small print than a credit card application. Consider the plight of Jamie Lovemark, who lost in a playoff two weeks ago at the Frys.com Open but had to forego an invitation he earned via his Frys’ top 10 into the Viking Classic in order to play the first stage of Tour Q-School.
When the Viking was washed out, however, Lovemark was awarded a spot in next week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic based on his Frys’ performance.
Nothing against Lovemark, a fine player who is simply playing the hand he was dealt, but it appears as if he’s getting a mulligan while players like Matt Jones (No. 129 in earnings) sit out the season finale on the sidelines.
We suggest a loophole solution, expand the field by one to make room for Lovemark, who deserves the spot and a clear conscious.
PEDs. Without any further insight from either Barron or the Tour, Monday’s news that the 40-year-old journeyman had become the first to run afoul the circuit’s performance-enhancing drug policy is a victory of process, if not common sense.
The Tour has invested a small fortune, estimates bring the circuit’s anti-doping bill to about $2 million per year, to prove it is above the doping questions that dog other sports and Monday’s announcement seems to support that notion.
Besides, the image of a shirtless Doug Barron begs the question: If this is the face of doping on Tour, is it really a problem?
Black Monday. On the same day doping innocence died on the PGA Tour, democracy took a header on the European circuit. The tour announced in an internal memo to players that because there were only four nominees for the four open positions on the circuit’s policy board officials would forego elections.
Just a minor point of parliamentary procedure here, but shouldn’t the rank and file get a chance to decide if they want Player X calling the shots?
Who is running the European circuit’s polling process, Katherine Harris, the former Secretary of State for Florida during the infamous “chad” episode?
Senior Players Championship. Change the name, change the layout, change the land if you like, but TPC at Avenel by any other name is still a bad swap for the Champions Tour from Baltimore Country Club, site of this season’s Senior Players Championship.
On Wednesday, Champions Tour officials announced the Senior Players was moving from Baltimore CC to Avenel in 2010, noting it is a one-year switch but not so subtly pointing out “Baltimore Country Club . . . has one year left in its site agreement.”
Nothing against TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm – the oft-maligned nip-tucked track that not so long ago hosted the Tour’s Washington, D.C.-area stop – but Baltimore CC is a keeper, even for an event dubbed a “fifth” major.