Wednesday, November 21, 2007

PGA Tour Counter to Dubai World Championship?

Tim Finchem has to counter what the European Tour just did. He just has to, right? Well, perhaps Finchem had wind that something like that was in the works when George O'Grady began dropping hints about the Euro Tour counter to the FedEx Cup. Finchem announced the (lack of) changes to the FedEx Cup for the 2008 year before O'Grady announced his plans for 2009 and beyond. In that announcement, Finchem left the door open for changes to the FedEx Cup during the season - particularly in February. That decision was criticized by many, including me.

Perhaps the decision to not make any changes before the 2008 season was a chess move of trying to lure out the big European Tour announcement first and then reacting to it accordingly. With that possibility in mind, what will Finchem and Ponte Vedra do to get back some of the limelight they voluntarily shed by creating the Fall Series and this opening for the European Tour?

Well, I'm doing some maintenance work on the Golf News Net to get ready for 2008 tournaments. In doing the schedule for the PGA Tour next season, I took a peek at all of the expected tournament purses. Clearly, the Players Championship has the largest purse on the PGA Tour at an approximated $9 million. The new Dubai World Championship that closes out the European Tour season will top that by one million dollars. (Cue up Dr. Evil.)

That means that, as of 2009, the PGA Tour will no longer officially host the world's richest golf tournament. Do not think this distinction is not very apparent to the PGA Tour brass. It is one they would like to maintain, I bet. Why not do that then by injecting a boat load of money into the event it so desperately wants to be considered a major championship?

The Players Championship falls almost exactly halfway through the PGA Tour regular season for the FedEx Cup. Midway through the season is a perfect opportunity to inject some needed buzz around the FEC that simply did not exist in its first season. What better way to do that than to create a midseason bonus for the leader of the FedEx Cup? How about $5 million to the winner? It would potentially make a winner of the first half of the FEC and the Players Championship worth almost $7 million with a single putt on the 72nd hole. That is double what the hypothetical Race to Dubai and Dubai World Championship winner could have.

This idea fits. It fits within the window that Finchem created for himself by not making changes to the FedEx Cup now, but allowing room for them later. He may have felt that it was best to see what was coming from Europe given that it would take effect in 2009. Then, he could rally the Tour and its financial resources to put something in place for 2008 or 2009 that would crush the European Tour.

It may not be likely, or even close to possible, but it's not a bad idea.

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