Posted by: furmanbisher | September 30, 2008

PGA in Dire Need of Some “Tweak Victory”

Sorry I’ve been away so long, but I wasn’t lallygagging. (It’s a clean word, you can look it up, though in some sections of the USA it may be spelled “lollygagging.”) The Tour Championship has been going at East Lake Golf Club, which was somewhat a comedy of errors, as the PGA Tour has been moving every piece of furniture trying to breathe some excitement into its “World Series of PGA Tour” golf. First, there came the Tour Championship, which was a logical conclusion to the tournament year. Good. Swell. But when?

Well, they tried to keep it from overlapping other big sports events, like the baseball World Series, Breeders Cup (though that was actually never a real consideration), and the most seriously competitive stuff, such as football, both college and pro. And, frankly, there was no way to try to guess with the big rivalries down the road. The Tour Championship started off in Texas and was moved around, but always scheduled in late October or November. No matter what direction the PGA Tour took with its precious gem of competition, it nearly always found itself embattled. Then they settled on Atlanta, East Lake Golf Club, with its Bobby Jones background, and with the hope that maybe some of the magic of the Masters, the nearby Augusta neighbor, might rub off. But there was still college football, NFL football, NASCAR racing and any number of competitors for the sporting dollar to deal with.

Finally, the Tour was moved back to September, presuming that the college football season wouldn’t yet have reached its heated stage. At the same time, Tim Finchem and his PGA Tour High Command got together and came up with a couldn’t-miss solution: THE FED-EX CUP. Not to be confused with NASCAR’s own Fed-Ex Cup, but,unabashedly a copy of it. As it turned out the first year, Tiger Woods won it, a logical and coveted conclusion. But, there was some tweaking still to be done. Then Tiger went into surgery and the field of Tour players had a big old pot to shoot while Tiger was under repair.

Then came the Ryder Cup, played the week before in Kentucky. Bad timing (!!!) Hadn’t some genius thought of this? The Ryder Cup such a smash hit, the Americans finally winning one not far away in Kentucky, that the Fed-Ex Cup fell into the status of an afterglow, not to mention the fact that the championship was already determined before the first shot was struck at East Lake. Vijay Singh has so many points in his bag he couldn’t be caught.

To further accentuate the embarrassment, it was decided to present the prize cup to Singh while the Tour Championship was still on—for television, of course. So while the fellow who finished 22nd in the Tour Championship was being presented the trophy –“weird,” Singh said– in the end Camilo Villegas, a developing young pro from Colombia won the intended climactic tournament gem of the Tour, but not the Fed-Ex Cup. It was already on its way to Singh’s den, along with the $10 million check that went with it. Really embarrassing, but Finchem and the Tour coped with it sportingly. This weighs heavily on the commissioner. All you can say is: Back to the tweaking board, fellows.


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