While millionaires playing for a $10 million Christmas bonus proved to be compelling television, slightly-less-wealthy pros playing for their jobs is as real as it gets. Keeping track of earnings, as opposed to the long-form calculations needed to track FedEx Cup points, is simple and eternal – cash a check or check the “help wanted” ads.
FedEx Cup: The points system is confusing, the concept stretches the definition of playoffs and this year’s Cup featured more doomsday scenarios than a BCS title game, yet despite it all, or maybe because of it, we ended up with a tense final turn at East Lake and a dream photo op for Tour types – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sharing the same stage ... and smiling.
It’s tough to contrive special, but the Tour did it with Woods taking home his second FedEx Cup trophy in three years and Mickelson giving us a reason to pine for next season with his second Tour Championship triumph in 10 years.
Note to Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: if there is any loot left from FedEx, the math geeks who came up with this year’s point structure should get a little something extra in next week’s paycheck.
Ken Green: He lost his brother, his girlfriend, his dog and his right leg, but Green has not lost his desire to play professional golf again or his ability to inspire.
On Monday a large group of Green’s friends gathered in Danbury, Conn., for a charity tournament to raise money to help pay Green’s escalating medical bills. Among those on hand were fellow Champions Tour players Fred Funk, Andy Bean, Scott Simpson, Chip Beck, Bob Tway and Brad Bryant.
The tournament raised $200,000 for Green, and his energy raised the hopes that he could become the first golfer to play professionally with a prosthetic.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golf’s Olympic bid: Neither President Barack Obama nor Oprah Winfrey could sway the International Olympic Committee’s decision – which begs the question, who was missing? Gandhi? The Dalai Lama? Brian Urlacher? – and Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games went to Rio de Janeiro.
Although golf’s Olympic bid will not be known for another week, the decision was at least a logistical hit for the game’s Gold Medal aspirations.
If golf gets the IOC nod, the game’s best and brightest will be asked to work the games in between starts at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey, the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota and whatever version of the FedEx Cup playoffs is around. Imagine the SkyMiles.
And if you think golf took a hit, imagine the mood in Chicago. Now all the Windy City hopeful have to look forward to in the fall of 2016 is another September swoon by the Cubs.
Tiger Woods: According to various reports, the world No. 1 turned down an invitation to pose in 'ESPN the Magazine''s upcoming “Bodies” issue, a thinly-veiled rip-off of 'Sports Illustrated''s swimsuit issue.
While we understand Woods’ reluctance to pose in the buff, we can’t help but think if not Woods then who? The “Bodies” issue already will feature LPGA players Sandra Gal, Anna Grzebien and Christina Kim.
No Henrik Stenson? The big Swede must want to save his “beefcake” shots for World Golf Championship audiences.
While ESPN searches for a Woods replacement, we offer a list of players nobody wants to see in the issue: Tim “Lumpy” Herron, Angel “El Pato” Cabrera and John “El Wacko” Daly.
Bay Hill: We learned this week that Arnold Palmer & Co. will dial down the course for next year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, playing the layout as designed as a par 72. Similarly, Jack Nicklaus smoothed the rough edges of Muirfield Village for this year’s Memorial, which begs the question : When did the King and the Bear go soft?
First they agreed to ceremonial spots on the first tee at Augusta National, now this.
Sponsorship madness: The Tour doesn’t have long to bask in the warm glow of success following last week’s Tour Championship. The circuit is facing an uphill sponsorship battle starting in 2010, when 11 title or presenting sponsors come due for renewal by season’s end.
Among the most glaring holes in the Tour docket will be replacement checkbooks for Torrey Pines, formerly the Buick Invitational, and the Heritage, a Tour staple since 1968.
We will miss the likes of Warrick Hills, the long-time home of the now-defunct Buick Open, but Torrey and Harbour Town are special. One can all but guarantee Woods and Mickelson at Torrey, and Hilton Head Island features one of the Tour’s best courses and most-relaxed vibes. If the Tour can’t sell that, where are we?
“I’m optimistic,” said Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot. “I’ve reached out to players and agents. I might need Boo (Weekley) to make a sales call.”
Now there’s a sales call “Cut Line” would like to sit in on.
Slow play: Woods and Padraig Harrington, locked in competition, were put on the clock by Tour officials. No, we are not talking about “Stopwatch-gate” at Firestone. The high-profile duo was timed again on Saturday at East Lake.
The “clocking” followed news that the Tour had stiffened penalties for slow-play violations this year, doubling annual cumulative fines (which start at $20,000) for frequent violators ($40,000 for a second consecutive year, $80,000 for a third consecutive, $160,000 for a fourth consecutive year, etc.).
The new rule suggests a chronic problem that, considering the vast amounts of money available to even the most rank-and-file member, will not be fixed with fines. If the Tour wants to take a bite out of slow play, slap one-stroke penalties on habitual offenders and publish the names of the Tour’s slowest players. Missed cuts and embarrassment can be powerful deterrents.