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Sep202013 Tour Finals: "Where's the drama?"

Dave Shedloski penned a feature in the latest Golf World on the Tour Finals, forever to be known by its acronym WTF (explained in his lede graph). You can try and read it here.

The excellent story quotes numerous players questioning the integrity of a system which, due to disproportionately higher purses compared to normal Tour events, rewards one top finish in the playoff events, with little incentive to play each week (sound familiar?).

The story doesn't event get into the WTF absurd timing, going against a full cupboard of more interesting sports events, including the FedExCup playoffs. Remember, it had to go now to fit in the calendar-year scheduling, which was driven by saving the four fall events. No dollar left behind!

However, it's the complete absence of drama compared to the now-defunct Q-School that elicits this best quotes, including this one from Will MacKenzie.

"If I'm looking at it from the outside, I'd be asking, 'Where's the drama?' There's not a lot of build-up, you know?"

And this from Tad Ridings on the Q-School contrast.

"They were worried about a guy getting hot for one week at Q-School and getting a card, but this deal, it's still lightning in a bottle. You finish third once and you're done. I don't see that the series is working as a series per se."

And this is what they're saying on the record. Imagine what they're saying in those "just between us girls" moments on the range?

By the way, the WTF is off this week. I know everyone already knew that, but just in case...

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Reader Comments (25)

All of these points are valid and it's amazing they were not addressed. The players are right, you could potentially have had a horrible year on either one of the Tours, barely get in the WTF playoff series, get hot, on the Tour next year, JUST LIKE Q-SCHOOL. WTF......
09.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Here is a nice little gem, buried in the back of the article.
More free advertising for Titleist:
The week in general was a good turning point for Noh. He
struggled for much of 2013 after competing in three FedEx Cup
playoff events last year. An equipment switch from Titleist
to Nike contributed to a subpar year as he dropped to 160th
on the FedEx Cup points list.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Blunt
I caddied in 2 Q School finals back in the day. It is, no excuse me, WAS one of the greatest events in all of sport. Since they killed it, I have completely tuned out and have no idea what it takes to get on tour, no chance I try to learn.

WTF is inaccurate it should be called Who Gives a F---???
ol Harv - I'd argue that the WTF are a much easier way for a lot of these guys to get their cards rather than Q-school. Plus, they can make a little coin while playing and being treated like real professional golfers unlike Q-school where they made very, very little and were treated like wannabe professional golfers.

Q-school was awesome. It identified the guys who could bring their game to the table when needed and play under pressure. Sure, lots of guys can shoot 65s on their home courses and win a few mini-tour events. Very few of those guys can play for their tour card and have the mental and physical fortitude to tough it out even if they don't have their A+ game, which is the point anyway.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
Sometimes it helps to consider facts rather than half-baked opinions when attempting to see if PT management is actually accomplishing their goals with the new WC Tour Finals.

Following is the current top 25 thru three events that would get cards if the series was now complete. The group is broken into the top 10 (fully safe for new cards), middle 5 (probably safe for new cards) and bottom 10 (still potentially in jeopardy). It looks like a pretty good collection of talent to me.

And, just consider how good it might look in the future if all fifteen of the top 100 ranked players on OWGR had joined the event instead of only one (Marcel Siem of Germany). The initial absence of these players is the reason WHY the first three fields have only had 129 players rather than the 144 that the tour suggests will probably attend as time passes. All of them are members of ET who earned as many FE points in a relatively few world events that they entered as number 200 on the PT-only FE points list.

Just as it took a little while for ET members to decide to join PT in order to participate in the FedEx playoffs, it will likely take a few years (and some one event participants who place in the top 3 and instantly earn cards) before they start to come in large numbers to the WC Tour finals in search of an easy way onto PT.

$210,125 Seung-Yul Noh (T7, CUT, Won) - Age 22
$180,000 Trevor Immelman (Won, CUT, CUT) - Age 33
$164,000 John Peterson (T5, T3, 3rd) - Age 24
$118,400 Will MacKenzie (CUT, 2nd, T22) - Age 39
$108,000 Patrick Cantlay (2nd, DNP, DNP) - Age 21
$67,071 Ryo Ishikawa (CUT, 5th, T7) - Age 22
$61,533 Scott Gardiner (T3, T47, CUT) - Age 37
$57,250 Troy Matteson (T41, T6, T14) - Age 33
$48,125 Will Claxton (T7, CUT, T14) - Age 32
$45,071 Hudson Swafford (CUT, T14, T7) - Age 26

$41,900 Bud Cauley (T5, T44, CUT) - Age 23
$41,333 Tyrone Van Aswegen (CUT, CUT, T4) - Age 31
$40,000 Heath Slocum (CUT, T8, T17) - Age 39
$38,671 Chad Collins (T60, T24, T7) - Age 35
$36,000 Sean O'Hair (T11, CUT, T17) - Age 31

$34,750 Ricky Barnes (CUT, T6, CUT) - Age 32
$34,091 Jim Herman (T43, T53, T7) - Age 35
$33,650 Bobby Gates (T7, CUT, T48) - Age 27
$32,500 Troy Merritt (T15, T17, CUT) - Age 27
$29,325 Greg Owen (CUT, T8, T52) - Age 41
$29,175 Vaughn Taylor (CUT, T8, T56) - Age 37
$27,071 Spencer Levin (DNP, CUT, T7) - Age 29
$26,000 Camilo Benedetti (CUT, T8, CUT) - Age 34
$25,920 Alistair Presnell (T11, CUT, T43) - Age 34
$23,925 Steve Wheatcroft (T60, T59, T14) - Age 35
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
Chris you are right. Dan Forsman was in my player's group in '82. He doubles 1 and 2 in the first round. I remember standing on the 3rd tee feeling sorry for Dan, thinking "poor guy has a great swing but he is+4 and done after 2 holes" He sucked it up got his card, and has never looked back.
Interesting stuff. Q School *was* great drama, but not to/for a particularly big audience. Not many outside the hardcore of golf fans/watchers knew what was happening to whom at Q School. I don't see that as a problem or demerit. But in terms of mass impact, Q School didn't have much of an audience either. (And I mean this in the least pedantic way possible: It's *Tag* Ridings, with a "g." Not Tad.)
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKP
Q school didn't have a sponsor wanting visibility.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Never watched much of the Q school finals. Maybe it was because it finished in the middle of the week. Wasn't the finals on one course/one location? About 7 rounds?

Since they play on 4 courses, I think it could benefit a player who doesn't play well on one particular course. That appeals to me. The long gap between the event last week and the final event doesn't make sense to me.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H.
Nobody thought about q school until golf channel began televising it. Then nobody watched. And nobody went to the event itself except family and a few retirees. And nobody paid to sponsor it.
So now q school is gone and only a few cranky old guys care.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
"Where's the drama?"

In the Wild Card races in MLB. College football seems pretty "meh" this week.

Also looks like Henrik the Locker Destroyer is cruising for now. Watched GC with the sound off courtesy of some hijacker. Seemed to be a snooze fest. How was the commentary? So, no drama in Atlanta either, for now. Unless Eldrick having a double and triple counts. Tech-UNC won't move the needle tomorrow either.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
The current system is infinitely superior to the Fall Series / Q School set up of prior years. They just need to find a better time slot than opposite the big Tour Playoffs. What they should do is have these events Mon-Thursday (or Wed), and even possibly at the same sites as the big events - maybe directly after they are done or something. Make use of the "bye" week for the big finale. The biggest proponents of Q school are the primary benefactors; the marginal veteran PGA pros, who knew that their Tour caddy, equipment, and overall experience gave them a huge leg up in a short, intense setting such as Q School. Now we have real tournaments, and achievement over a longer window to measure them. Can they improve the point allocation to reward the season winner ? Possibly, but those guys are already getting their top 25 into the tour based on the regular season. The heavy playoff allocation again benefits the PGA Tour washouts. What they should do is limit those guys to one or two trips through this series, and if they don't make it, let them wait till the Senior Tour.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
The Tour DOESN'T WANT to find a different time slot for the WC Tour Finals. The two fields (FE Playoffs and WC TF) DO NOT intersect. If players are eligible for one they ARE NOT eligible for the other. They want the two series to overlap as much as possible - so that both groups can play as much as possible in the leadup to the two final series - then separate during the two series - which then allows the newly identified 50 PT members to rejoin the main tour when it starts up again in October.

The current scheduling allows both groups to have the maximum number of playing opportunities and - with the slight one week offset - allows the final event of both series to have a week to itself without any broadcasting conflicts.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
@ SGarrett - I get it and agree, but for exposure purposes, the will always be buried behind the Fedex. Maybe that is fine with them.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
BrianS, it is absolutely "fine" with PT if the WC TF is buried behind the FE Playoffs. PT management are certainly not trying to upstage themselves. They simply want to insure that PT remains the "world tour of golf" and that the quality of its membership continues to reflect that fact. That is WHY the original logic behind the FE Playoffs and now the emerging logic behind the WC Tour Finals is directed toward allowing relatively easy access to PT by ALL THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD. If you wish to continue to be "THE BEST" you need to constantly recruit the best players in the world into your membership!!!!!!
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
This new system is drastically better. The Webcom Tour, not Q School, is the gateway to the PGA Tour. The Fall Series isn't just floating by itself anymore--- It counts for FedEx Cup points for the following calendar year. Top players can go overseas in the fall and pick up PGA Tour wins at events like the WGC in China. There is actual closure after the PGA Tour Playoffs end, and Player of the Year can be named days later. All of this is step in the right direction.

The worst part about the Webcom Finals is that it gets such good TV time slots. That stuff should be on tape delay and we should be getting extended live coverage of the PGA Tour Playoffs. Only this week's Tour Championship is getting adequate coverage.
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDB
@SGarrett: "And, just consider how good it might look in the future if all fifteen of the top 100 ranked players on OWGR had joined the event instead of only one (Marcel Siem of Germany)."

You need to fill me in here - are the top 100 on the OWGR exempt to the WTF, or are you referring to something else? I was of the understanding that it was just the 126-200 guys from the PGA Tour and the 1-75 on the Web.Com Tour who were exempt, plus any non-member who ears enough in FedEx Tournaments to enter the top 200. Are the top 100 OWGR players who fulfill that last criteria the ones you are referring to?
09.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Hawkeye, you are correct. However, when PT very quietly released the actual lists of the non-members who qualified via the "equal to or more than number 200 on the member FE list" it contained a total of 22 players.

Three were qualified for direct membership because they also exceeded number 125 on the 2013 member money list - Matsuyama, Gonzo and Olesen - and therefore had no need to enter the WC Tour Finals. All - plus Darren Clarke who remains eligible from his British Open win - accepted 2013-14 PT membership.

Four more were US players who were non-members for 2013 - Patrick Cantlay, John Peterson, Jeff Klauk and Peter Tomasulo - who all chose to enter the WC TF. Cantlay and Peterson have already locked up cards for next season. The other two have one more chance.

The remaining fifteen players were all members of ET and each happened to be ranked inside the top 100 on OWGR as of the conclusion of the PT regular season that concluded at Wyndham. Of those 15 only Marcel Siem elected to play and he missed the first three cuts. The entire group of 18 international players - including the three who qualified directly via the money top 125 - are listed below, preceded by their world rankings as of the conclusion of Wyndham:

28 Hideki Matsuyama
29 Matteo Manassero
31 Branden Grace
35 Richard Sterne
41 Jamie Donaldson
42 Francesco Molinari
44 Thorbjorn Olesen
48 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
53 Miguel Angel Jimenez
60 Paul Lawrie
65 Chris Wood
66 Marcel Siem
69 Alexander Noren
73 George Coetzee
74 Stephen Gallacher
82 Shane Lowry
92 Marcus Fraser
100 Rafael Cabrera-Bello

This season's result is not an anomaly IMO. When I computed a similar hypothetical group that would all have been in excess of member FE 200 as of the conclusion of last year's 2012 Wyndham event, it looked like this (total of 19 rather than this year's 18 international non-members and all but one were inside that year's top 100 on OWGR):

24 Martin Kaymer
26 Francesco Molinari
31 Peter Hanson
33 Nicloas Colsaerts
34 Paul Lawrie
39 David Lynn
41 Thomas Bjorn
44 Gonzalo Fdez-Castano
46 Simon Dyson
50 Alvaro Quiros
52 Branden Grace
58 Jamie Donaldson
59 Anders Hansen
70 Robert Rock
71 Ryo Ishikawa
73 Miguel Angel Jimenez
76 K.T. Kim
89 Thorbjorn Olesen
110 Thomas Aiken

Five of this group of 19 took up direct membership for the current 2013 season - Kaymer, Hanson, Colsaerts, Lynn and Ishikawa.

I believe this pattern will continue into the future. And, it may actually increase in magnitude as CIMB and HSBC - along with any new international events that are created in the future - start to award FE points in addition to inviting significant numbers on non-members who will be able to earn those points. Whether an increasing proportion of eligible players start to accept those invitations is an open question, but I suspect that the lure of lots more cash (and fewer taxes) at US based events compared to what they are able to earn and pocket elsewhere will certainly be a strong motivation.

09.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
does PVB have shills that post here? I think so.
09.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentertour caddy 60
The new system is about identifying the best players to feed into the PGA tour not what is more interesting for onlookers. There is huge drama in place right now. Just ask those players who are on the bubble.
09.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
Drama? The drama is the over-kill on the TW penalty / no admittance from last week. That is where the drama is!
@SGarett, thanks for the excellent research! I didn't think it was that many Euro players who were eligible for the Finals, and I'm pretty sure that some of those on the list weren't even aware of it themselves...

I believe you are right in your prediction, that this is a route that many international players will want to seek in the future in order to get a proper card on the US Tour. Due to the fact that the top 25 on the Tour, who have already locked up their cards and aren't on the list, are still playing the finals, it does mean that one top five finish virtually guarantees a Tour card. One would think that good Euro players would fancy their chances at achieving that.
09.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Hawkeye, I totally agree that the WC TF route will be increasingly used by top 100 ranked non-members in the years ahead.

The WC Tour Finals timing is also interesting for a couple of other reasons:

1) With the series being held opposite the FE Playoffs, it is fairly difficult for ET events to award big purses in that time frame as many of its top ranked members are busy playing in the FE Playoffs. Therefore, the differences in the $1 mil WC TF purses and the ET purses being offered at the same time is NOT massive.

2) The WC TF series normally concludes about a week prior to the either the Presidents or Ryder Cups - a time when some of the European and International ET members might be headed to the US for a Cup event (at least when the respective Cups are staged in the US). And, in the years when the Cups are staged outside the US, non-members might want to play early in the series and then perhaps bypass the final event or two in order to go to the upcoming Cup location and prepare there.

Perhaps, as you suggest, several were simply not aware that they had qualified for this year's initial series. But, if they were aware, it would have certainly been pretty easy for - especially for upcoming P Cup players like Grace and Sterne - two South Africans who are ranked WAY INSIDE the top 50 on OWGR to come over to the US a few weeks ahead of the P Cup and acclimate themselves by participating at some of the WC TF events as a warmup for the P Cup. Both would have likely had good shots at picking up a membership on PT for 2013-14 if they had opted for this strategy.
09.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
I think the WTF is a way to avoid the LPGA type of situation where they have a lot of players with three names that nobody can pronounce correctly. US / Western-world golf fans aren't big on this. I don't think the PGA would see the influx of Asian ( Korean ) players that the LPGA saw. But why take the chance. I guess it sounds kind of racist, but I think that is the reality. A lot of the big mucky mucks talk about making the game global but I think we see the true feelings of the PGA mucky mucks anyway. With the money involved I kind of see their point. If you're a sponsor with a primarilly US based product having a lot of foreign players isn't appealing.
09.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I think you are way off base in suggesting that the WC Tour finals are a step toward a closed shop by PGA Tour. Any non-member good enough to match number 200 on the PT member FE points list is eligible to enter the WC Tour Finals. That IS NOT a very high hurdle and 22 non-members achieved it this season (see list in an earlier post I made on this thread).

Next season It will become even easier when both the CIMB event in Malaysia and the HSBC event in China - along with all the other 2013 fall events - award FE points for the first time. Both of the asian-based events will invite many talented Asian golfers who will get chances to play well and potentially move on to PGA Tour. In addition, sponsor invites are routinely available - and accepted - at several tournaments for talented non-members (including asians).

This season's number 200 on the member FE points list was Kevin Na with only 92 FE points! Three regular event 40th place finishes matches that number. Two regular event 25th place finishes matches that number. A single top 10 and any other top 50 matches that number. Or, any single finish in the top 6. Matching number 200 on the FE points list IS NOT a very high bar.

Further, any player who qualifies for the WC TF fields and chooses to participate, is left with a next-season Tour Card even if he fails to secure a PT card. And, for players who are not yet competitive on the international stage - and capable of entering the many "world class" events that are now recognized by PT and offer FE points - Q School still remains and offers unlimited access to the Tour. From there - in as little as a year if successful - any player can move on to PT membership.

The problem so far for many Asians is not access to PT membership. The problem is succeeding on PT once they have a chance to complete (see Bio Kim, Sung Kang and many more examples). Along those lines, I was happy to see both Ryo Ishikawa and Seung-Yul Noh secure enough money in the first three WC Tour Finals events to once again secure a card for next season. They are both talented young asians IMO. And, it will also be great to see how Hideki Matsuyama does with his new PT card that was secured by matching number 125 on the 2013 PGA Tour money list as a non-member.

Talented players from all over the world can secure PT memberships through a variety of avenues. It is not a closed shop and I think you and others will soon see just how open it is - as talented non-members from around the world start to use the newly created avenue of matching number 200 on the FE points list to access the new WC Tour Finals and secure PT membership via that new route.
09.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett

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