The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is PGA tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. He gets the award for installing the gimmicky Fedex Cup to the Pro Golf tour he manages. Several long-time tour stops are being lost in the shuffle.
No one but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and a few other people like this idea. Golf writers have panned it, fans in Chicago, Washington DC, Texas and Upstate New York are unhappy, so are many tour players. What made Finchem think this was a good idea? History has shown, the only tournaments that create a special interest are the majors. Besides the playoff system Finchem has devised is flawed. In five years this thing will be in the Sports disaster dustbin but golf fans in long-time golf markets will be without their tour stops. All for a misconceived idea to create interest. Golf doesn't have a Super Bowl, it has four majors. Everything else is window dressing.
For bringing harm to the sport he is supposed to be commissioner of, Tim Finchem is today's Knucklehead of the day.
Open Post- Cao's Blog, Bright & Early, Right Wing Nation, Basil's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Mudville Gazette, Is it Just me,
NEW YORK - Tim Finchem plans to stay on as PGA Tour commissioner for six more years, and judging from the media bashing he endured in Washington and Chicago the last few weeks, you can be sure there are some who would prefer he take early retirement.
In those two major markets, he is the Grinch who stole golf.
The nation's capital has been host to a PGA Tour event since 1980, when former commissioner Deane Beman brought the Kemper Open to Congressional, the home course of presidents, powerbrokers and Ken Venturi's famous U.S. Open victory. Then it moved to the TPC at Avenel, bringing a slow and certain death.
The tournament didn't learn until a couple of hours before the PGA Tour's grand announcement in January that it was not part of the illustrious FedEx Cup competition; rather, it was being dumped into the junior varsity portion of the fall schedule. And with Avenel going through renovation, there likely won't be any golf in Washington next year, and maybe not for awhile.
At least Chicago didn't lose the PGA Tour every year — just every other.
The Western Open, the second-oldest golf championship in the United States and once considered a major, now will be called the BMW Championship and played in Chicago in odd-numbered years. One of the four "playoff" tournaments at the end of the year, it will be held in even-numbered years at major venues such as Hazeltine, Crooked Stick and Bellerive.
That means no golf at the highest level in a golf-crazed market every other year.
Finchem was a convenient target, the czar behind these changes aimed at making the golf season shorter and more interesting.
But it's not all his fault.
If anyone has complaints, look no further than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. They were the catalysts who first started barking about the PGA Tour season being too long. All the commissioner did was respond to his two biggest stars.
Mickelson, who prefers to shut it down after the majors, was among the first to suggest the season was too long and too dull.
"I think for us to compete against football, and for us to continue our season after the PGA Championship as long as it does, I just think it kind of loses its luster," Mickelson said at La Costa in February 2005. "It's just not exciting. I'd love to see a lot less tournaments on tour, so the top players play in a greater percentage of those events."
Woods and Mickelson are not the best of friends, but it sounded as though they were in cahoots on this one. For it was only two days later that Woods also argued for a shorter season.
"End it Labor Day," he said.
A week later at Doral, Woods was more expansive on his wish for an early end to the regular season, which would allow top players to compete against each more often besides the eight biggest events — four majors, The Players Championship and three World Golf Championships.
"It would be more exciting for the fans, and I'm sure the sponsors and TV and everybody, if we did play more often together," Woods said. "The only way you could do that is if we shortened the season, which I've really been trying to get into Finchem's ear about."
And when Tiger speaks, Finchem usually listens.
The commissioner had his own concerns. The sports market is changing rapidly, and the fear was that golf would be left behind if it didn't shake up a model that has been working since the PGA Tour was formed.
The idea of a shorter, more compelling season sounded like a good idea at the time. And while Woods didn't finish his last two years at Stanford, he learned enough math to realize what a January-September schedule would mean.
"Unfortunately," he said, "you're going to have to lose some tournaments."
Finchem did his part, delivering a season that ends on Sept. 16 next year at the Tour Championship, preceded by three $7 million tournaments that attempt to give the PGA Tour a Super Bowl.
(Actually, golf has four Super Bowls known as the majors. This is more of a Pro Bowl).
It might not be perfect. The FedEx Cup points system might not make sense.
But the season will end before the Heisman Trophy watch is narrowed to five players, before the NFL season takes shape, before NASCAR crowns its champion.
Did it have to lose Washington in the process? Not necessarily. But did anyone outside the Beltway care about the Booz Allen Classic until it was knocked off the schedule? There's usually enough blame to pass around Washington on matters of national interest, and golf is no exception.
Memphis got the spot on the schedule that Washington wanted. But the PGA Tour has been in the land of Elvis since 1958, and it was the scene of the tour's first 59 by Al Geiberger, and its roll call of champions includes Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.
As for Chicago?
Remember, the Western Open once moved around the Midwest — even going out to San Francisco one year — until it stayed in the Chicago area starting in 1962. As part of the playoffs, the tour thought it was important to create a rotation of great golf courses. The Barclays Classic will no longer be held at Westchester every year, and the tour is still looking at alternative sites in the Boston area.
Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices.
And until the PGA Tour goes through its first season under the revamped schedule, no one can be sure it's a bad idea.
If it is, blame them.
Cross posted to Bullwinkle Blog
Labels: Knucklehead of the Day