The LPGA's ADT Championship begins this Thursday in West Palm Beach. Like in past years, TFM will be in attendance.
Palm Beach Post golf writer Craig Dolch had an excellent article in yesterday's paper on the tournament's new format.
I totally agree with Beth's statement. If you make the final 8, you only get $20,000 for third? What if there are that many or more people in a playoff? Doesn't seem fair to me.
The LPGA Tour can only hope a player is in precisely that position a week from today at Trump International Golf Club for the final round of the first playoff-style ADT Championship.
Instead of the tour's top 30 players competing over four days for a $215,000 first prize - as has been the case the past five years at Trump - a 32-player field will be cut in half twice, with the remaining eight competing in an 18-hole Sunday sprint for a $1 million first prize, by far the richest in women's golf.
Yes, things have changed on the LPGA Tour. When Boynton Beach's Karrie Webb won the first ADT Championship in 1996, the $150,000 first prize enabled her to become the first player to earn $1 million - in a season. A decade later, a player will earn that in four hours.
The new format is not yet being embraced by players, but it is expected to command attention from fans, and that is the LPGA's goal.
"This is a watershed moment for the LPGA to be playing for a $1 million first prize," said Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who was hired 14 months ago, after the playoff-style format was created. "The guys regularly play for a lot of money, so I think it's pretty exciting. There's been a lot of buzz about this as we've moved around the country."*****
While the winner will leave with $1 million, the runner-up will get $100,000 and the third-place finisher $20,500 - what someone typically receives for finishing 10th at a regular LPGA event.
"It's basically a winner-take-all deal," said Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, who isn't in the field.
Someone may remind TFM that neither golf or life is fair. I'll grant that, but the ADT's new format has other and bigger problems.
Sorenstam takes issue with how the first prize, which is five or six times that of the average LPGA event, will skew the money list. With the seven-figure payoff, four players - current leader Ochoa, No. 2 Webb, No. 3 Sorenstam and No. 4 Kerr - could walk away with the money title if they win. Sorenstam suggested the tour count half the winner's purse on the money list and count the other $500,000 as bonus money, but that idea was rejected.It does skew the money list. History will say that so and so golfer was the leading LPGA money winner. Will anyone go past that headline to notice why that woman actually finished #1? The #1 spot could also come down to one round of golf or one shot. Is that fair? Is it truly indicative of who the best golfer was in the year?
Another small gripe with the tournament but more are to come.
The LPGA is trying to create a shootout format to create excitement. I'm a hardcore LPGA fan and feel the more golfers with a chance to win the better. The LPGA is trying to create interest in other sports fans.
Some players also are questioning the format. After the first two rounds, the field will be cut in half to 16 (a playoff will take place if necessary), then to eight for Sunday's final round, where all previous scores will be wiped out. It's conceivable that a player could have a six-shot lead going into Sunday and then finish seventh and make just $17,000 even though she had the lowest score of the week.
"I think everyone should be able to play all four rounds," Inkster said. "It's the type of course where you can shoot 75 in the first round, but if you shoot three 69s, you might win. I don't agree with wiping out the scores, either. For $1 million, you want the best player for four days, not the best player for 18 holes."
One of last year's runner-ups, Soo Yun Kang, would barely have made it to Saturday under this year's format. Soo Yun was tied for 13th after two rounds.
I've never understood how players qualify either. Why not just take the top 28 money winners and the four major champions? That would be far clearer.
Another oddity: The purse pays the same $14,000 to each of the eight players cut Saturday. And each of the 16 sent packing Friday will get the same $8,000 whether they're two over or 20 over. Where's the incentive to keep grinding on Trump's four difficult closing holes if you know you're not advancing?
Several players admitted that they can't understand how the system works to get into the field. Winners of the four majors as well as other selected events get automatic spots, while there also was a two-part qualifying system in which players earned spots based on top-20 finishes.
"It's too difficult to calculate on a week-to-week basis to figure out where you are," Daniel said. "It kind of makes no sense for me, although I know people who play more events have more of an advantage."
That's how I would have re-done the ADT. That plus all 32 players going the 72 holes or cut it to 16. The resetting of scores for Sunday makes the tournament too prone to one golfer having a hot round. A counter argument could be made that the reset keeps Sunday from being anti-climatic if one golfer has a big lead after 54 holes.
TFM has never been enchanted with the ADT's new format. However it won't prevent me from watching the event this weekend.
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