Monday, September 8, 2008

An End and A Continuation

Everyone, it is with mixed emotions that I've decided to transition all of my golf blogging to Waggle Room. The most obvious reason for the transition is sheer volume of hits. Waggle Room gets over 10 times the number of hits to the home page alone, each day. That doesn't even count hits from specific posts. It is just something that lil ole GNN Blog cannot beat.

I have mixed emotions about this because I feel that I've built this place from scratch. It was my baby and it afforded me the great opportunity to take over for an even bigger community, with better resources, at Waggle Room. The folks at SB Nation have the tools to take golf blogging to the next level - and hook ups with Yahoo!, Google, and the like that will take my writing to new audiences. At the same time, the Wagglers are a lively bunch. They chat it up, post on their own, and we have a great debate there.

Don't worry, though, you're welcome at Waggle Room too. In fact, I'd be disappointed if you don't stop by there and join me. I'll still talk about the same things and bash and laud the same subjects with the same vigor. The font and colors will just be a little different. I'll still be doing the weekly podcasts and have them on Golf News Net, iTunes, and Waggle Room.

Basically, I'm replacing a small, cramped dog house, for a luxury doggie mansion where there is plenty room for everyone. I hope to see you there and I thank you for your support over the years.

Ryan Ballengee

Friday, September 5, 2008

LPGA Caves, No Player Suspensions in Policy

Double post, but worth mentioning in both places:

From a statement from Bivens on today:

The LPGA has received valuable feedback from a variety of constituents regarding the recently announced penalties attached to our effective communications policy. We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions.

After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every Tour player. In that spirit, we will continue communicating with our diverse Tour players to develop a better alternative. The LPGA will announce a revised approach, absent playing penalties, by the end of 2008.

FedEx Cup Improvements - Bob Harig Edition

Harig penned a piece for ESPN on the subject and I thought I would take down some of his ideas to present them to you. You've seen mine on this blog (via Waggle Room), so I think it's a good idea to keep talking about the subject.

Here are his ideas:

First, limit the playoff field to 100 instead of 144 while allowing a full field of players in each of the three playoff events, meaning there would be a cut each week. Those outside of the top 100 could still compete to win the tournament but would not be eligible for the FedEx Cup.Then whittle the playoff field down to 80, 60 and 30.

Then award more points for top-10 finishes, fewer points for simply making the cut. The best example of this is illustrated by Paul Casey, who tied for seventh at the Barclays and then missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank. He earned 3,455 points at the Barclays, none at the Deutsche Bank. Had he finished 70th both weeks, he would have made 4,196 points.
A couple of good ideas. I still like the idea of keeping non-qualifiers out of Playoff events, but at least he's coming up with some good suggestions. Of course, as he too mentions, no tweaking will matter if a guy comes out and wins 2 events.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Christine Brennan is On Board with Bivens

Talk about lazy journalism and editorializing. Christine Brenann of USA Today takes the cake with this half-assed column that backs the LPGA Tour's English communications policy. It doesn't really bother me that she is ok with the policy. I have heard arguments in favor of it that are at least thought out and have some independent analysis. Brennan, though, simply took what Bivens said at face value and now she's a-ok with it.

If [all those people criticizing the plan] had done that, it would have been noted that the LPGA and the PGA Tour have almost nothing in common, except for the word golf. While the PGA Tour is swimming in cash, most LPGA events live and die by selling the opportunity to play with the pros in weekly pro-ams. It's an experience unique to golf, akin to an NBA star having to play a basketball game every week with sponsors in different cities or a major league baseball player having to spend hours helping the owner learn the basics of playing shortstop.

This is not an idle exercise for an LPGA player. She is expected to interact, offer advice and tell stories with her foursome, which is filled with sponsors or their customers paying anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000 per person for the experience. If those sponsors can't converse with the player (65% of LPGA events are in the USA), the tournament often hears about it. And if the tournament doesn't do something about it, the sponsor might decide not to come back next year, especially in these tough economic times.

This might sound a bit unusual, but it's the way the LPGA stays in business.

"A pro-am is largely responsible for making LPGA events possible," Commissioner Carolyn Bivens said in a phone interview Wednesday. "It is the single largest source of revenue for a tournament. There are no domestic TV rights fees. This is our oxygen. It's that important. As recently as the past two weeks, I've had tournament directors tell me they are getting complaints (about international players who cannot speak enough English to talk to their pro-am partners). We have to be aware of that, because we've had sponsors who say they have had a bad time and might pull out because of it. That's our reality."

Basically, she was sold in a 30 minute convo with the Commish. She did little or no independent thought about how critical it is for the LPGA Tour to find out the other barriers to the next level beyond simple English - English so simple that the LPGA wasn't willing to label their requirement even as proficiency (which would be like passing Spanish I and being able to say Yo quiero ir a la biblioteca).

There's more to it than that.

Geoff Shackelford has figured out what I mentioned in this space, using this piece as a guide: this is all just a smoke screen. Re-read Bivens' quote about how sponsors may pull out because of English speaking players, or the lack thereof.

One Last Thing to Consider About LPGA's Policy

I watch CNBC from time to time. (I am NOT American business, though.) They have been running this ridiculous series hosted by Maria Bartiromo - the Money Honey (TM, no joke) - called The Business of Innovation. The latest episode in the series that I saw before I passed out the other night was called "Innovate or Die." It's a pretty strong title, but that's not what caught me.

What did was the CEO of LG. LG is Korean-based, if I recall, but is a global company. They have required all of their employees to speak proficient English. It is the official language of the company. Why? Because the CEO feels it is important to have a common language among employees and to speak the global business language.

It didn't really change my mind on this policy, but is interesting to consider.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chemistry Matters in the Ryder Cup

How many times have we talked about the winning formula for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup and how it involves a combination of talent AND the fact that the players actually like each other and bond like a team needs to do?


So, it still amazes me that JB Holmes has found his way onto the Ryder Cup team. Not only am I surprised because of the weak sauce on the course toward the end of the year (including the choke at the PGA), but also because players on the team simply don't like the guy.

From Barker Davis at the Washington Times:

[I]t's difficult to see Holmes' popularity in the Bluegrass State outweighing his lack thereof in the team room. If a random sampling of PGA players named the three least-liked guys on tour, Holmes might finish second to Rory Sabbatini. Why? Because the 26-year-old has no social skills. His boorish behavior and poor personal hygiene are running jokes on the PGA Tour. Given that Azinger was supposed to be a more connected captain than recent out-of-touch U.S. skippers Hal Sutton and Tom Lehman, the selection of Holmes seems almost comically misinformed.

"Personality matters," Azinger said at Tuesday's news conference. "If you have guys that are not getting along or whatever, it makes a difference."

Whoops. Then, if personality matters, how could Pres Cup MVP Woody Austin get skipped over in terms of personality and points for Chad Campbell?

Reconcile that quote with this that Azinger said of Austin:

"Woody is an exceptional person and a terrific player," Azinger said. "I've said all along I don't want to try to justify why I didn't pick anybody that I didn't pick. He would have been a terrific pick, but there are a lot of guys who would have been terrific picks."

Are you so sure of that? Cause you missed plenty, Zinger. Their names are O'Hair, Rocco, and Aquaman.

Will Europe Implode in the Ryder Cup?

Could Paul Azinger - holder of exactly 0 cards in a 5 card draw hand of poker - be waiting for Nick Faldo and the Euros the implode upon themselves and lead to a US win at Valhalla?

Brian Murphy at Yahoo! Golf brings us this:

Maybe Cap’n Zinger’s best game plan isn’t the Parade o’ Missed Cut Wild Card Picks. Instead, maybe Team USA’s strategy is this: Sit back and let Team Europe implode.

I always thought it curious that Nick Faldo, who exuded all the charm of a tax auditor when he was winning majors, would be the man to rally Team Europe to another Ryder Cup win. The gut feeling here was, Team Europe was bound to start feeling pressure after all those stirring wins over the U.S., and would enter the ’08 Cup slightly uneasy as the heavy favorite. Throw in Faldo’s ability to spar with the media and his fellow Euro Tour players, and you had a combustible mix waiting to explode like a bad high school chemistry experiment.

Zinger got just what he wanted when Faldo, apparently enamored by a friendship with Ian Poulter, stiffed the enormously popular Clarke for the spiky-haired dude in the Union Jack pants. This set the British media back into a familiar and comfortable place: attacking Faldo.

Word out of Europe is, Faldo loves the fact that Poulter, too young to feel the full icy wrath of Faldo the Player, actually looks up to Faldo the Cap’n. Thus, Faldo could pick Poulter – legitimately, a fiery competitor who showed well at Birkdale – and avoid having Clarke, and even another spurned pick, the Ryder Cup lion Montgomerie, sit in the back of the room giggling when Faldo tried to fire up the troops.

Now players like Sergio Garcia and even American Jim Furyk are questioning Faldo; Poulter has enormous pressure to perform; and the Americans have their ace in the hole – Faldo’s always-present ability to tick off those closest to him. That’s a winner for Team USA.

It's a good point. People are seriously ticked off that Ian Poulter got onto this team. (Nevermind Paul Casey being kinda meh, but Poulter is the sticking boy because it is he who has the too chummy relationship with Faldo.) Poulter is getting projected upon to him the decades worth of anger from players and European media that just don't like Nasty Nick. I'll bet that, in a way, they want Poulter to fail to show something to Faldo. And if it just so happens that the Euros lose the Ryder Cup if Poulter folds like a house of cards (I think he may), then so what?

Some media in Europe have suggested that Poulter will be under the greatest pressure to perform compared to any player in the history of the event. That's probably hyperbole, but the last man who was trying to press under pressure - Paddy Harrington - laid an egg in the matches.

American Larry Dorman has this on Poulter in the NY Times:

Poulter will be under more pressure to perform at the Ryder Cup than any player in the recent history of the event. Everything he does will be scrutinized in light of his friendship with Faldo and the suspicion, vehemently denied by both, that Poulter had been assured of a berth on the team even before he decided to pass up the Johnnie Walker Championship last week at Gleneagles, Scotland, to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, where he missed the cut.

Seriously, I am still stunned that Darren Clarke did not make the Ryder Cup team!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So, the FedEx Cup is Over. Let's Fix It. Again.

With Vijay Singh as a dead lock to win the FedEx Cup, I've realized that FedEx Cup 2.0 is also not bulletproof against a guy who will win half of the Playoff events. So, in an effort to make this thing slightly more exciting, I offer suggestions for Version 3.0 at Waggle Room.

Bivens and Sirak Interview, And More

Carolyn Bivens is on the bandwagon for the Olympics crowd, right? And, of course, the Olympics has two official languages - English and French (dead language). For as much as Bivens claims that Eun-Hee Ji's English-less acceptance speech in Rochester was what set into motion this plan, I am much more likely to believe that Bivens drew upon her experience with the Olympics to bring the policy forward at this time.

Anyway, was pointed to the Sirak interview with Bivens in Golfworld and found many of the gems I heard on Golf Central last night as I was catching up on the golf world.

First, I find it hilarious that Carolyn was surprised about the backlash to this issue. From the piece:

Bivens was both surprised and angered by the reaction to the proficiency policy. "I find it troubling that media that does not know the whole story would jump on a racist bandwagon," Bivens told Golf World. "If these players don't take this step [and learn English], their ability to earn a living is reduced. They will be cut out of corporate and endorsement opportunities. I can't imagine that someone who has thought this through does not realize that in opposing this measure they are penalizing the very people they are trying to help."
At times, I really am convinced that Bivens has good ideas, but just fails so much in executing and communicating them that it is stunning she got the job based - in part - on her marketing background.

The issue of an "official language" of the United States has been brewing for probably a decade, and most intensively in the past few years with politicians discussing immigration reform. For the LPGA Tour to inject itself into the debate by making English a de-facto official language and then be stunned when the Tour becomes a lightning rod for both sides of said issue leads me to believe that this was not thought through well.

Even critics of the policy understand the benefits of learning English. I said as much in my qualified first reaction to the policy. But, again, mandating English as a condition of employment seems to be taking it way too far. Considering that the future of the LPGA Tour is likely not in the United States, it also is extremely hypocritical and comes across as biting the hand (and foreign money) that is feeding the Tour's bank accounts.

To me, this policy is beginning to come across as a back door excuse for lousy sponsorships on the American part of the Tour. Sponsors for US events are dropping like flies (Safeway, Ginn, Fields, Semgroup) and it appears that the Tour is hemorrhaging on that front. Perhaps instituting said policy is a way of saying to sponsors and fans that they feel they have identified a problem with the product and want to correct it. There's no easy way of saying that the nationality of players winning and dominating is a problem, so they tried this as an explanation.

Moving onto the motivation for the policy:
Of the three areas the LPGA has identified as linguistic trouble spots -- media interviews, victory speeches (where sponsors are praised) and the pro-am competitions -- the pro-am is unique to professional golf and is perhaps the tour's strongest arguing point. Ichiro does not have to interact with four fans one day of every week. The cost of entering a four-person team in an LPGA pro-am is around $24,000; if the pro can't speak English it creates an awkward situation.
Sure, that's possible. But pro-ams are not exactly fun for players that speak English well. I was fortunate enough to caddie for Christina Kim in one about four years back in Kutztown, PA; a now dead event. She was her usual effervescent self to the execs from Wrangler Jeans that we were with for the day. But that was not true for all of the players in all of the groups. Some appeared to be the total opposite of chummy with their playing partners. More often than not, the pro-am is a disappointment.

I would wager, though, that this will ultimately end in the Tour having said policy, but with fines instead of suspensions.

The 19h Hole: The Team is Set

Today, Captain Paul Azinger announced his four Captain’s Picks to round out the US Ryder Cup team that is set to try to win back the cup from Europe at Valhalla in two weeks. His picks were Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, JB Holmes, and Chad Campbell.

They join Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, Justin Leonard, and Ben Curtis to complete the team.

It appeared that Stricker and Holmes were going to be on the team no matter what. Stricker practically had played his way onto the team in finishing ninth in qualifying that ended after the PGA Championship. Were it not for Ben Curtis’ run to a runner-up finish at Oakland Hills, Stricker would have made the team outright. If the qualifications were changed to end after the Deutsche Bank Championship, Stricker would have made his way back onto the team and unseated Boo Weekley.

JB Holmes did not have the same record that Stricker did. He finished 17th in the points standings, despite a win this season at the FBR Open. Outside of that, Holmes fared pretty poorly on Tour this season. In his biggest audition in the final group of the PGA Championship, Holmes duck hooked a drive on the first hole and seemingly caved his chances. Despite that, Azinger indicated he may pick Holmes because of his Kentucky roots, knowledge of Valhalla, and long driver.

Hunter Mahan found himself in a world of trouble after an interview in Golf Magazine in which he suggested that Ryder Cup participants were treated like slaves and that the PGA of America may not even care about winning the event – just making money. Despite the gaffe, Mahan was solid on the course. He had four top 15 finishes in his last seven starts and an opening 62 at the Deutsche Bank Championship likely locked in his place. Azinger, a belligerent man at times himself, likely shrugged off Mahan’s comments in lieu of that kind of play.

The real surprise was Chad Campbell, who will now be in his third straight Ryder Cup. Despite missing eight cuts this season, Campbell had a top seven finish in Boston this past weekend. That must have been what got him on the team because his best finish other than a runner-up in Houston was a top 3 in Milwaukee opposite the Open Championship.

So, we have our team. We have six rookies on the team – Stricker, Weekley, Mahan, Holmes, Kim, and Curtis. If that’s not staggering enough, the combined record of the players with any experience is not good: 19-37-17. The players with any experience score nothing more often than they score something. That’s bad news for the US psyche heading into Valhalla.

The question, then, has to be whether or not this strategy of Azinger’s will pay off. It is clear that Azinger did not want to overwhelm his team with rookies – having gone for Sean O’Hair over Chad Campbell would have made for more rookies than veterans. Fresh blood may very well be needed since the Europeans have sucked the life out of the usual cast of characters in every contest since Brookline.

But, at what cost will there be new faces on the team? Azinger passed over players with major championship wins, like Zach Johnson and David Toms, for players with local knowledge and younger legs. The Captain must be of the mind that one can only build experience by playing and that he would pick these men to be thrown into the fire first.

His strategy may turn out to be effective. It may work out such that all of the rookies find a way to work with the stalwarts and form two man teams that will mesh immediately. After all, the formula pairings of Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood, as well as Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik were borne out of such circumstances.

What is more is that the entire team will likely have a care free attitude going into the event. The Patriots are under almost no pressure to win having been embarrassed in the last three Ryder Cups. If they were to pull out a victory at Valhalla, it would be viewed as one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Ryder Cup – no joke. As we have seen in the men who have managed to challenge Tiger Woods in major championships, having nothing to lose sometimes can make a player (or pack of them) most dangerous.

No matter what, the Captain’s Picks of both Azinger and Nick Faldo have raised some eyebrows. Those picks will be the most scrutinized of the contest and will provide some of the biggest insights into the genius – or lack thereof – of these two guiding forces.

Vacation's Over

Hi everyone, I spent about the last 2 weeks or so on and off the road with little chance to post. A guy deserves a break every now and then. But, I'm back and ready to take you through the end of the golf season!

Captain Zinger takes the mic in 10 minutes and we'll talk soon there after.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Volatility = New Chances to Skip Events?

That's what Phil Mickelson said and that's why he LOVES the new system.

Phil Mickelson dropped a bomb Thursday at the Deutsche Bank Championship that probably had a few officers at tour headquarters reaching for aspirin, if not hankies.

Those aren't raindrops from the latest tropical storm falling in Ponte Vedra Beach, those are teardrops of sheer fright. After a handful of prominent players had expressed the opinion Thursday that the new FedEx points system had overreached, Mickelson offered an entirely unanticipated answer.

"I think that the intent was to have more turnover, and certainly it has done that," he said. "I don't feel as though the season, the regular season, has anywhere near the same impact that it had, and so that could be a good thing because now we don't have to play as many events if we don't want to."

"Positioning ourselves for the FedEx Cup is really not important because the last‑place guy, if he wins, vaults into first," he said. "So that could be kind of cool, too."

Hahaha. This is awesome. The Tour made the FEC too volatile and gives opportunities for players to skip more events because all they have to do is play well for four weeks in August and get $10 million. Brilliant.

I am really loving the Deutsche Bank Championship more and more. Phil Mickelson seems to use this event as a way to poke fun at the FedEx Cup and Tim Finchem. And TPC Boston is awesome, too!

Some Lazy Reporting on the LPGA Ruling

Beth Ann Baldry really mailed this one in for Golfweek on the reactions of several people to the LPGA English requirement. Basically, it's the standard lazy piece of talking to a couple of different sides of an argument and forming no conclusions. Read it if you want, but here's the part that interested me.

Richard Lapchick has studied diversity in sports for nearly 40 years. He thinks the tour has “unleashed a public-relations disaster” and predicts the LPGA will have to change its decision “pretty soon.”

Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, can’t think of a single instance when a policy that has garnered this type of negative reaction hasn’t been reversed. While the LPGA points to its English policy as fundamental to its business initiatives, Lapchick said sponsors can’t publicly embrace the rule.

“It’s a decision that’s going to be too offensive to too many people that a large corporation can’t associate itself with it,” Lapchick said.

“It’s as politically incorrect as it can get.”
But the reaction for this really hasn't been all negative. From what I have seen, it appears mixed at worst. Some love it. For Baldry to qualify this as drawing such a negative reaction is lazy.

I will agree, though, that the LPGA has done a number of things in the recent years that have resulted in reversals. First, it was media rights. Then, it was Ginn. Maybe this is next.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LPGA/English Requirement, Take 2

Yesterday, my initial gut reaction on this LPGA English requirement business is that it was necessary, but hypocritical. (Some folks who read it definitely missed the point. Some focused on the English-being-biz-language part, which was a mistake.)

I've had some more time to think about it since I've been traveling on the road over the past day and here's my final conclusion.

The LPGA shouldn't make players learn English. The stars of the Tour should certainly be encouraged to speak English because it improves their marketability, etc, and can only help the players in their opportunities across the world. But it should be a requirement of membership. Doing so is taking it too far.

The players intrinsically know the value of knowing English, Chinese, Japanese, and any other language. They know that their marketing opportunities and the growth of the Tour is somewhat limited by their ability to communicate with the world. If they choose not to learn a reasonable standard of English - and other languages - then the Tour suffers and they do also.

This is particularly true of the LPGA Tour, whose growth in Asia trumps that growth made in America. For the Tour to get more exposure, better sponsors, etc, the Tour needs every advantage in marketing - including breaking language barriers.

Still, the Tour exists for its players. Carolyn Bivens has said so herself in media interviews. She has also said that it is her goal to get better purses, benefits, etc, for the players. If that is her goal, then she is working for the players. The players do not work for her. Therefore, to make such a requirement out of English goes back on the very nature of her work.

Without the players, the Tour is nothing. The players make the Tour what it is. With that in mind, it should be their choice to learn English - or any other language - because it is their responsibility and freedom to define how the Tour grows globally.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Demading English on the LPGA Tour

I blogged as neutrally as possible at Waggle Room about the story out of last week's meeting of South Korean players at the LPGA Tour Safeway Classic in which Commissioner Carolyn Bivens revealed that the Tour would demand English proficiency for players having been on Tour for two years or more.

After taking some time to think about it - the hypocrisy of Bivens, the importance of English in this culture and the world, and the struggling sponsorship situation - this is a must for the LPGA Tour.

Does it wreak of hypocrisy? Oh yeah. Carolyn Bivens has been on record talking about how Asian players strengthen the Tour and has followed the money that comes with the advent of Asian dominance of the Tour. There's a legitimate Asian swing with another potentially developing in the early part of the season because of struggling Hawaiian events. Bivens wants to follow the money from Asia and Asian fans, but also demands the players speak English.

But, English is the language of this Tour. At least for now, the Tour is US based. The language spoken here - predominantly - is English. Sponsors sign advertising and sponsorship agreements in that idioma (a lil Spanish joke). They pay thousands and millions to play with Tour pros. Any players paired with these groups that speak poor English have a tough time making the experience enjoyable, or at least not totally awkward. With how much sponsorship is struggling here in the US for the LPGA Tour (and golf in general), it would seem that any measure would help.

Invariably, this language requirement will help the Tour here in the States, especially with fans and media that find connecting with Asian players next to impossible at times. Certainly, this is not true across the board. One need not look further than the great LPGA-niched blogs that I reference to know that hardcore, good LPGA fans don't care about any language except that of golf. It is a unifying language to the truest of fans. But for those who don't speak golf, they want English to understand the game's up and coming stars.

Americans tend to root for people who are somewhat like us, or at least willing to immerse themselves into our culture. So many people think of Annika Sorenstam as an American though she clearly isn't. It's the lack of a language barrier and years of excellence that have made our fans so grateful and respectful of her.

Se Ri Pak is a great example of the evolution of feelings of fans for Asian players. When Pak (really Park) arrived ten years ago and took the game by storm, she didn't speak a lick of English. She has worked hard, though, to learn and become proficient in the language. It has made her more endearing to fans who are more likely to think of her like Annika than Na Yeon Choi. Still, there is a gap there because she still gaps in the language.

Do I think it's fair how players will be targeted? No. Does it seem like a suspension of membership for not knowing English is awfully harsh? Yes. But, it does seem important that the Tour make strides to get players proficient in the global language of business. Otherwise, the Tour cannot cash in on opportunities around the world - something it desperately needs to do given the current sponsorship situation.

It is simply my hope, though, that this does not become an arbitrary witch hunt as part of an attempt to Americanize the Asian stars. They offer the same Five Elements of Celebrity as a player of any other nationality. To ask them to shed any more of their natural diversity and cultural appeal other than their language would be too much to ask. Hopefully this does not set such a precedent.

Who Would You Rather Be?

Nick Faldo? Paul Azinger? Both have some critical decisions to make after the Labor Day holiday. Most importantly, they each have to determine their captain's picks to round out their respective Ryder Cup teams.

Azinger has to pick four players from the US Ryder Cup points list. Arguably, he will be picking from a selection of guys having mediocre years, inexperienced up and comers, and veterans that would likely be rookies in the competition.

Faldo, on the other hand, seemingly has a wealth of riches. He has the same types of guys, like Nick Dougherty, Martin Kaymer, and Darren Clarke, but they all appear to be playing well when it counts Faldo, though, only has two picks and will likely hurt some feelings (especially Monty's) if he leaves someone out.

Who would you rather be? Who would you pick on each side?

Reframing the Meaning of the FedEx Cup

In my monthly piece for Sports Central, I touch on how critical it is that the PGA Tour finds and defines a real identity for the FedEx Cup. After having gone to two extremes in the first two years, it may need to stick with one or risk diluting the point by going to the middle.

Check it out!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Safeway Classic and 54 Hole Events

The Hound Dog has a really great summary of the final stretch, including the playoff, at the Safeway Classic. Eventually, Cristie Kerr won for the first time this year and the 11th time in her career.

This was a 54 hole event, which they're trying to phase out of most of the LPGA Tour schedule. For whatever reason, people think it's not as good of an event if you only play 3 rounds. But, what I love about them is the very aspect that caused the playoff this week.

54 holes is not a lot of time to win a tournament. You have to play streaky and hot to win. You can't take a round off and still win - unless you go like 61-61-70.

The stretch of having a half dozen golfers in the mix on Sunday was great, and they were all good names, too. Why not keep that every once in a while? It's a fun change of pace!

You Know Your Place on the Sports Spectrum

...when Notre Dame football - irrelevant for almost 10 years now - sideswipes your television coverage on a network. And that's happening to the Tour and BMW Championships in the next few weeks, which air on NBC.

Jon Show has more in Sports Business Journal:

Scheduling conflicts will force the final two FedEx Cup playoff events to move up their time windows to accommodate NBC’s commitment to air Notre Dame home football games, which could further affect television ratings for events that will already suffer from the absence of Tiger Woods.
The opponent in question?
The Sept. 4-7 BMW Championship is the third event in the playoffs and conflicts with the Notre Dame-San Diego State game. The season-ending Tour Championship, Sept. 25-28, runs up against Notre Dame-Purdue.
REALLY? Cupcake State bumps golf?! And that is even despite golf nearly doubling Notre Dame's ratings last season. That school has some pull.

Titleist Really Mailed This Graphic In

Golf Observer, one of my favorite golf news sites, is sponsored by Titleist. I don't really like them all that much because of previous wars of words with them from sponsored bloggers, their corporate site, etc. Anyway, I found this graphic - no joke - on the front page of Golf Observer today.

All I can say is, whoa.