Friday, May 11, 2007

Should NASCAR take a lesson from PGA Tour?

One question as race weeks bear down on the city where Tiger won:

Who has it right, pro golfers who pick and choose where they play, or NASCAR drivers who show up at tracks every week whether they want to be there or not?

When this PGA Tour season ends, Tiger Woods will have played about 18 events, roughly half of the shortened schedule. Others, like Vijay Singh, will play 25 to 30 events, because they choose to.

Either way, no one on the PGA Tour plays every week. It’s the way golf is. Unless your name is Dana Quigley, it’s not an every week sport.

But the case has been made – and it has merit – that tour players should be required to play every event on the schedule at least once every four or five years. It’s a good idea, one that should be on the books, but it’s not going to happen. It’s not even going to be brought up for discussion.

Greensboro, for example, works very hard at hosting the Wyndham Championship but it has no shot of Woods playing there. Ditto for Phil Mickelson.

Other tournaments are in similar situations. Pro golfers work when they choose. Like drivers, they have big-money sponsorship deals but, unlike drivers, those deals don’t require them to show up every week.

One of these days, a big-time driver is going to structure his contract so that he doesn’t have to race every week. If that means not competing for the season-long points championship, so be it.

Do you think Tiger Woods really cares about winning the FedEx Cup this year?

I know there are drivers who don’t want to race every week. But the way the sport is structured, they’re beholden to their sponsors to put their cars on the track every weekend, whether it’s in Phoenix or Watkins Glen or Martinsville.

Mark Martin may never win a points championship but he’s figured out the schedule thing, picking and choosing when and where he wants to race.

I think he’s on to something.