Finchem Hints at Schedule Makeover

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods might get his wish on a shorter season, although the PGA Tour is still months away from deciding how much it will change its schedule, if at all.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that moving the Tour Championship to September was under consideration as a way to make the end of the year more compelling.
 
But he cautioned that it was too early to speculate, adding that an earlier end to the official season was one of seven models the tour is studying before it begins negotiating a new television contract later in the year.
 
We may forward a schedule at the end of the year that looks very similar to what we currently do, Finchem said. We may forward a schedule that looks significantly different. It may be somewhere in between.
 
His comments came one day after the annual players meeting at The Players Championship, where the commissioner tried to shed some insight on where the tour was headed under a new TV contract.
 
On another topic, Finchem said he was working on additional guidelines that would clear up any perception of appearance money on the PGA Tour.
 
He said those guidelines would not have a chilling effect on corporate sponsors trying to put on Monday outings or on players trying to make extra money.
 
Prize money has risen dramatically from the last two contracts, from $96 million in 1998 to an estimated $252 million this year. Both four-year deals were negotiated at a time when Woods brought attention to the sport by winning the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, and becoming the first player to four win straight professional majors in 2001.
 
But the networks have said they are losing money from the last contract, estimated at about $950 million, and much of the focus has fallen on tournaments in September and October, which compete against football and get low television ratings.
 
Finchem is intrigued by what NASCAR did last year with its Chase to the Championship, in which the top 10 drivers advanced to what amounts to a 10-race showdown at the end of the year.
 
The Tour Championship is played at East Lake in Atlanta the first week of November.
 
Theres a consideration that we might want to play the Tour Championship earlier, Finchem said. But I have about seven different models that involve how we handle the end of the season and different aspects of the season.
 
Woods and Phil Mickelson have argued in recent weeks that the season is too long, starting in Hawaii the first week of January and ending just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
 
For the future and growth and health of our tour, were too strung out, Woods said Wednesday. What other sport plays 10 months? And that includes some weeks with two tournaments.
 
Left unclear is what would happen with the rest of the PGA Tour events.
 
Among the possibilities is starting a new season in the previous calendar year, which is what the European PGA Tour has done since joint-sanctioning events in Asia and Australia. The first event of the 2005 season in Europe was the Volvo China Open the last week in November.
 
Ending the season early also might give the tour an opportunity to co-sanction tournaments overseas. Woods said events in South Africa, Asia and Australia were under consideration.
 
In an interview with The Associated Press last month in California, Finchem said he was looking at aligning the PGA Tour with other tours in terms of joint-sanctioned events.
 
Well probably do more joint-sanctioned events in the future, he said at the Match Play Championship. Wed like to play some more golf in Asia. Wed like to get down south a little bit. I dont know how it plays out.
 
Appearance money is not allowed on the PGA Tour, although it became an issue last month when the Ford Championship at Doral paid $600,000 for the foursome of Goosen, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh to take part in a corporate outing with Ford dealers the Monday of the tournament.
 
Then, Golf World magazine obtained a proposal from IMG in which it offered a price list for top players to go to such outings, with a pledge they would look favorably upon playing in the tournament.
 
He was vague about any changes to the regulation.
 
We have regulations that relate to appearance money, and those
 
are fine, he said. In addition to that, we probably need some guidelines that relate to situations that create the perception of appearance money.
 
They will be guidelines that will give us an assurance ... that were not gravitating toward appearance money in our sport, and I think when you see them, that will come through.
 
Mark Steinberg, head of the North American golf division for IMG, said the agency would continue working with PGA Tour sponsors looking for entertainment options.
 
But we have also, because of the controversy, mutually decided to put on hold the execution of these events until further clarification, Steinberg said. We have no intention of violating regulations or policies, nor do we think weve done that.
 
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.