A friend of mine who plays golf on the PGA Tour for a living called about a month ago and said, “Next time you see my name it’ll be in the Viking Classic.” Not to be confused with anything Scandinavian, it’s a tour tournament played on a golf course in Mississippi.
He is, you see, on “unofficial vacation.” He didn’t qualify for the Fed-Ex Chase, or whatever they call it. You see, after about the dozenth re-tooling, the moguls of the PGA Tour ruled that the “official” season ended with the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC. The Tour then shifted into another gear and only 144 players moved on into the three “qualifiers.” The results of all those tournaments played previously were thrown out, including the Masters, US and British Opens and PGA Championship. Nothing but the points the qualifiers accumulated in “the chase” would be recognized going forward. Thirty survivors would then play for the big moolah in the Tour Championship at East Lake, coming up next week—$10 million to the champion.
The Tour Championship is “major” to Atlanta and this area, and to the Coca-Cola sponsor. Unfortunately, the joke is on the PGA Tour, and all of us, but nobody’s laughing. We already know who the champion is and it’s—Vijay Singh. Vijay won the first two qualifiers, the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank and finished with 122,561 points. All Vijay has to do at East Lake is finish last and he still wins the Fed-Ex Cup and the $10 million. In fact, just show up and tee off and he’s the champ.
The Tour Championship has been castrated.
The Tour simply over-legislated itself. The winner of the Masters and the British Open won’t be at East Lake, and probably Player of the Year, Padraig Harrington, the Irish policeman’s son, didn’t qualify. Neither will Tiger Woods, but we’ve known that since June. Vijay says he’s going to play hard. He won the Championship once before. He wants to complete his set of book-ends. What else? The rest of the way he’s playing for the IRS.
Couldn’t somebody in the Tour have seen this coming? As many times as this TC has been tweaked, couldn’t they have made it fool-proof by this time? And in the meantime, the original Fed-Ex field chugs on, wise old NASCAR slurping up all the attention.
There are two parties for whom I feel sorry—the Coca-Cola Company and East Lake. They deserve better than this.