Thursday, May 17, 2007

PGA schedule chomps on some dates

What does the PGA Tour have in common with Florida football?

Beyond Chris DiMarco, of course.

The new tour schedule is a lot like the Gators’ football schedule.

There are huge weeks – like when the Gators play Georgia and when they play Tennessee.

Those weeks translate into the Wachovia Championship and The Players on the tour schedule.

Then there are those weeks made for the second and third-teamers to get some action – Saturdays against the Florida Atlantics and Western Kentuckys of the world.

Like the AT&T Classic in Atlanta this week. Or the Colonial in Fort Worth, Tex., next week. Oops, sorry, it’s officially the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial now.

Only one player in the top 10 of the world rankings – Henrik Stenson – is playing Atlanta this week.

Only one top 10 player – Jim Fuyrk – is committed to playing at Colonial next week. Most the top players are headed to Europe for the BMW PGA Championship, one of the biggest events of the season across the pond.

It’s become, increasingly, a fact of life on the PGA Tour.

There are high spots – the past two weeks have been exceptionally entertaining – and then there are flat spots like the two-week lull happening now.

That doesn’t mean the weekend in Atlanta won’t be compelling – tournaments take on their own personality once the scoreboard comes to life – but it’s like a cloudy night. You can’t see the stars.

At Colonial, once a prominent event on the tour, they’ve added little touches like a buffet breakfast for caddies and a giant television in the players’ locker room but the tournament is stuck in a bad spot on the schedule.

Location, location, location.

After the Wachovia and Players, most of the top players are going to take some time off then return for The Memorial, bypass Memphis then arrive at the U.S. Open.

It’s why Jack Vickers pulled the plug on The International earlier this year. He didn’t love his date and he hated the idea that he couldn’t always get the top players, specifically Tiger Woods. Ultimately, Vickers chose to surrender the fight.

There is no easy solution. Forcing players to play isn’t going to happen.

Will other tournaments disappear? It’s possible but not likely right now.

Will we flip the television on this weekend to watch anyway?

Of course we will. It’s not football season yet.