Big changes to the structure of the PGA Tour season have been rumored for months and now PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has made it official: starting in 2007 the season will be markedly shorter, and will end with a championship playoff sponsored by FedEx.
Here are the bones of the new season:
• The tour will be centered around the FedEx Cup, which will have a season-long points system.
• The season will largely end with the PGA Tour Championship Series: four August and September tournaments that will conclude the championship series. The final event will be the Coca Cola Tour Championship, which will be moved from November to mid September.
• After the Tour Championship, there will be a “Quest for the Card” Fall Series, which will determine the remainder of the 125 players who will become eligible for the next year’s FedEx Cup.
The FedEx Cup apparently will become the biggest monetary prize in all of sports. The number $10 million is being batted about, with another $20 million to be divided amongst the runners up.
Finchem said that the Tour has two objectives: ” to pull the season together and make the whole season impactful; the other is to have a strong finish. If you look at the other sports, the major sports, there is a multiple of somewhere between two and four times the average rating in the playoffs. In most sports, the playoff section of the season is actually worth more than the entirety of the regular season.”
I don’t even know where to begin with all of my thoughts on this, so here are a few at random:
Tiger and company wanted a shorter season. They got it. But it could be one of those be careful what you wish for scenarios. Depending upon how the points system works out, they could end up playing in more tournaments. In think that in Tiger’s ideal schedule, he sees himself playing in eight or ten tournaments (including majors) a year, tops.
Tournaments held in the early and mid summer are likely to be very happy about this, because its likely that they will get more of the big name players. Those who get scheduled after the Tour Championship may as well be running a Nationwide event. I can’t see a single “name” player doing anything in the fall (okay, maybe Vijay).
The huge payout could drain the European and Asian Tours of its better players. On the other hand, the shorter season could result in some PGA Tour players doing overseas tournaments—especially those with guaranteed money.
I’m not sure anyone will really care about the championship chase. Golf is about tradition, and tradition means the Majors.
It’s good to get the bulk of the golf season out of the way of the college and pro football seasons, and baseball’s postseason. Nobody was watching anyway.
They’re going to have to be very careful in the way they set up the final four tournaments. Otherwise, its possible that the winners of the four majors (or the single winner of all of them) could be out of the chase in the final event. That would definitely not make TV happy.
What happens to the World Golf Championship series?