Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PGA Tour tries, again, for dramatic finish

Now that the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs have been reconfigured again, we know something for certain -- but that's been the problem all along.

Unlike the first two seasons of the FedEx Cup playoffs where the winner had been determined before the Tour Championship was played, the 2009 version of the playoffs guarantees no player, not even Tiger Woods, will be able to have locked up the big playoff check before the end of the Tour Championship, which will be played Sept. 24-27 in Atlanta.

Sounds like an improvement.

The FedEx Cup has fizzled in its first two years because Tiger and Vijay Singh have bleached the drama out of the four-event playoff by locking down the overall championship before it could build to a big finish. They've done it by playing spectacular golf but, in the process, they undercut the idea of a dramatic finish at East Lake before the PGA Tour fades beneath football's glaring light.

Under the new twist, it won't be possible to win the $10-million bonus before getting to East Lake. At least that's the idea.

The new format announced by the PGA Tour on Tuesday includes a handful of changes. Among the most significant:

-- The season-long points race won't end until after the third playoff event. Previously, it ended prior to the playoffs with players being seeded for the final four events. Next year, season points will accumulate through The Barclays, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship. After the BMW, only the top 30 will advance to the Tour Championship but only after the points have been reset.

-- Only the top 125 in points will advance to the playoffs, a reduction from the 144 who advanced the first two years. The top 100 will qualify for the second event and the top 70 will reach the BMW.

The FedEx Cup hasn't suffered because of bad golf. In fact, it has had some great shows, including the Singh-Sergio Garcia playoff this year and Camilo Villegas' double-shot finish this year.

The playoffs won't ever attract March Madness-like attention and they haven't come close to doing for golf what the Chase has done for NASCAR. But they keep working to make the system better. They seem to be on the right track.


George Hanson said...

With this decision Wells Fargo has sent a clear signal that they do not intend to be involved with this golf tournament after the 2009 event. And I bet their involvement in the 2009 event will bare the bare minimum.

Andy Brown said...

They are trying incredibly hard to get it right and one cannot blame them for not trying to set it right. Now whether it works or not is a completely different issue. I think this new system isn’t all that impressive. As Daniel Chopra put it precisely, if a guy beats the crap out of everyone all season then he deserves to win. The problem with the first two editions was that two guys, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, played so well that they deserved to win and that obviously meant the drama was absent and that was how it was bound to be. Now you cannot have quality drama forced down your throats if there is only charcter playing his part to perfection which was the case in the first two seasons.

Now if next season we have two players competing against each other and it goes down to the wire then no one will be complaining about the system. Of course if you still don’t like the way the system works then you have got to distinguish between the ten million dollar bounty at the end of the season and the winner of the best player of the season award. If you can do that, then any gimmick would satiate the appetite of the fan eagerly waiting for a dose of excitement.

Play well