Problem More than Phil vs Finchem

By Scott LeeSeptember 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: Scott Lee is a contributing writer for He has been covering the world of golf for more than a decade and offers a unique and entertaining look at topical matters in the sport.
There is no I in playoffs. There is an O. And a whole lot of zeroes.
Apparently, Tim Finchem and the PGA TOUR thought they could just flash an eight-digit payday in front of the worlds top players and theyd come running like college kids to a free Dave Matthews show. But when youve got enough pull to get Hootie and the Blowfish to play your wedding reception, why settle for general admission?
Tim Finchem and Phil Mickelson
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem with PLAYERS champion Phil Mickelson -- in happier times (Getty Images)
Of course, the main admission here should be that, while the concept of The PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup (try saying that three times real fast) is a good idea, the current format is not.
First it was Tiger... then Ernie... and now Phil. When your first-name-only star power is skipping The Playoffs, theres a hint that some tweaking might be necessary. According to Phil, he put his two cents into the multimillion dollar discussion, but got goose eggs in return.
Whats becoming more apparent as The Playoffs roll on is that, in this game ' in this day and age ' there may not be a perfect system.
Thats because the only incentive for these guys to go out and play is more of what theyve already got. There was a time when $10 million could get you Alaska; today, its not enough to buy a top-of-the-line golfer.
The individual nature of golf is what makes it so hard to gain their full support for the post-season. Here, there are no teammates to let down if you decide to pull out of a playoff game. In fact, the rest of the FedEx field might never say it out loud, but it wouldnt surprise me if the words Mickelson and withdraw came up in more than one church service over the past few days.
So, for the third straight week, a high profile player is a no-show at The Playoffs. For the third straight week, the TOUR is disappointed.
(While were on the subject, what exactly was the TOURs official stance on Bernhard Langers decision to skip ALL of The Playoffs in order to play the European Tour? I must have missed that one.)
Ty Votaw, the former LPGA Commssioner whos now the PGA TOURs Executive Vice President of Communications and International Affairs, has decided to focus on the positive.
'One of the many storylines our fans will be following this week will be who will leave Chicago with the FedExCup points lead,' he said.
By my count, it will be the second time in a week that it happens.
It makes me wonder if Votaw wishes he was back at LPGA headquarters. Do you think Karrie Webb could give him this kind of a headache?
For those who think Mickelson has WDd himself right out of The Playoffs, consider this: If a rested Phil were to win The TOUR Championship at East Lake in Atlanta next week, there are only two scenarios that would prevent him from winning the FedExCup.
One involves Steve Stricker winning this week in Chicago and then going top-3 in Atlanta. The other, sexier scenario would have Tiger Woods winning for a fourth time at Cog Hill, and then finishing second to Phil at The TOUR Championship. Woods would then beat Mickelson to become the inaugural FedExCup champion ' by a whopping 20 points!
That may be the only way the PGA TOUR comes out of this Playoffs smelling like roses.
So until we get Tiger vs. Phil II, itll be Phil vs. Finchem.
So Phil Mickelson is out of the BMW Championship, allegedly over his beef with the front office. And while everybody and his senior editor wants to know the super-top-secret reason(s) why Phil is not playing in Chicago, I cant help but wonder why he should play.
Money? Hes 16th on the Forbes Top 100 Celebrities list. With a take of about $42M a year, you can bet hes already got a little something put away for the golden years, and theres still plenty left over to add to Amys impressive collection of boots.
On that Forbes list, Mickelson ranks right behind David Beckham and in front of David Letterman. And last week in Boston, he played the role of David himself, knocking off Tiger Woods when it actually meant something for the first time in well, ever.
Isnt that itself worth taking a week off just to celebrate?
Mickelson has cited his kids back-to-school week as another reason for skipping the BMW, and who can blame him for that? Yes, Mickelsons 18th-green family reunions are sometimes cheesier than a deep-dish pizza. Yes, Id much rather see Eric Axley win again, if only for the victory hug. But no, I will not chastise a player for choosing family over golf. Even big time, pro golf.
Weve seen it in the past, with the likes of Lee Westwood (2001) and Thomas Bjorn (2003) skipping the Masters Tournament for family reasons. I applauded them then, and I still do. I mean you cant just miss the birth of your firstborn, name him something in deference like Dogwood or Azalea and still expect everything to be fine when he hits puberty.
Most recently, Ernie Els backed out of the Deutsche Bank to see his two youngsters off to school.
Maybe in lieu of the ten mill, Finchem should be offering a lifetime supply of diapers. Or backpacks. How about a nice Spiderman lunch box?
Or, if what Lefty says is right, perhaps the TOUR should have just lent an ear.
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Related Links:
  • Phil Withdraws from BMW Championship
  • Full Coverage - BMW Championship
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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

    Getty Images

    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”