Finchem Changes Likely Regarding PGA Tour Schedule

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Tim Finchem is tempted to leave the PGA Tour schedule the way it is. The season starts in Hawaii, then follows the sun (except for the occasional rain delays) through the four major championships until it stops at the Tour Championship and everyone counts their money. The model has worked well in the 11 years Finchem has been commissioner.
Total prize money, $56 million in 1994, will surpass $250 million this year. Fifteen players already have won $2 million this year, and three of those guys haven't even won. Ratings continue to spike when Tiger Woods is contention, and his winning two majors this year certainly helped.
But the closer the tour gets to negotiating a new television contract, the more change looks inevitable.
'You want to grow,' Finchem said in an interview at Firestone, his first public comments about a new schedule since March. 'To compete effectively - even if you weren't going to grow, just to maintain your position - you look at who you're competing with. And everyone you're competing with is changing to get better, sometimes dramatically.'
The prize in this competition is a stronger audience, specifically the number of fans watching on TV.
The PGA Tour saw the NFL negotiate a new television deal in which 'Monday Night Football' is leaving network TV for ESPN. Prime-time football on the network is moving to Sunday night, and the NFL will allow important games to be shifted from afternoon to evening so NBC isn't stuck with any duds.
Next to the negotiating table is NASCAR.
Its popularity already was motoring along without restrictor plates when NASCAR revamped its schedule last year to create 'The Chase,' which features the top 10 teams competing over the final 10 races of the year.
This is where golf likely is headed.
Finchem says there are still 'a number of options,' but two sources who are privy to the discussions said last week that the tour is focused on a playoff race that would begin shortly after the PGA Championship and include four tournaments that lead to the Tour Championship.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of their relationship with the tour, said two of four tournaments already have bought into the plan, one of those the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Finchem declined to discuss details of any models the tour has considered.
'To say any one option is the lead option ... there are issues with all of them,' Finchem said.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson took the lead earlier this year in saying the schedule was too long, stretching from the first week in January to the first week in November. In television terms, that would be from the start of the NFL playoffs to when the next season's NFL playoff race is taking shape.
For casual fans, television interest in golf doesn't start until Pebble Beach (the week after the Super Bowl), and it begins to slide after the majors are over (and football resumes).
Golf might need something to inject some enthusiasm, especially late in the season.
'You need to challenge yourself every few years and say, 'Are we taking all the steps necessary to allow us to compete effectively?'' Finchem said. 'It may develop that you say, 'You know what? There's no better way to do it, so let's just leave it alone.' It's certainly easier to do that. But I think it's been good to challenge what we're doing, and I think the likelihood is we'll make some changes.'
Finchem has tried before to generate interest at the end of the year.
When the World Golf Championships began in 1999, the season ended with the American Express Championship. Played the first two years in Spain, it followed the Tour Championship on the U.S. tour, and the season-ending Volvo Masters on the European tour. The idea was to create back-to-back weeks of big tournaments.
But it didn't work for Europe, and too many top Americans didn't bother going to Valderrama.
Whatever change Finchem has in mind must have the support of Woods, the No. 1 attraction in golf. Woods already has met at least twice with the commissioner, including last week at Firestone.
Still, the process is not causing Finchem too much concern.
The greater challenge came three years ago. Finchem negotiated a four-year TV contract in July 2001 that approached $1 billion, then spent the next year scrambling to replace nine corporate title sponsors when the economy soured after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This task is more about moving a variety of pieces into the right places, each move affecting another.
'It's taken a lot longer than we thought,' Finchem said. 'It's going to be very late in the year before we get to television (negotiations). I would be concerned about that, because we don't like to be within a year of starting the next season. But this year is a little different in the sense we've extended so many title sponsors.'
Bridgestone signed up as title sponsor of the World Golf Championship at Firestone through 2010, and Finchem said he has 20 other title sponsors secured through the length of the next TV contract (2007-10).
Now all he has to do is figure out where they all fit.
And hope it works.
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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (