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"What will fewer star appearances mean for the PGA Tour and its smaller events?"

Nice SI/ Confidential today with this especially sharp discussion on the trend of stars playing less as the tour adds more.

Gary Van Sickle and Joe Passov with two vital points:

VAN SICKLE: The PGA Tour continues to eat its young. The World Golf Championships made the lower-level Tour stops seem less, then the FedEx Cup made the WGC and all the regular stops seem less. Plus the FedEx Cup "playoffs" killed the summer schedule. Players are forced to play seven of 11 weeks from the U.S. Open on (two majors, four FedEx Cup, one WGC), thus making every other date on the schedule unattractive to the top players, and therefore to potential sponsors. “Less is more” sounds like a snappy argument unless you're out of the top 50 and suddenly can play only 22 events instead of 32. It's an alarming trend.

PASSOV: If he skips smaller, Tiger-less events such as Humana, L.A., Houston and St. Jude, they're in trouble. Here in Phoenix, where we have been without Tiger since 2001, we always say, "But at least we have Phil." Nobody moves the needle like Tiger, but Lefty is a healthy second.

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Reader Comments (21)

Must have been cool back in the day when every star showed up to every event. They didn't have the luxury of taking time off because they were burned out. I remember when I was a kid and went to a local Tour event every year, late 70's early 80's. Most all would show up. I'm not a NASCAR fan but those guys do seem to get it, it's about the fans. If they go away then there is no race circuit or golf tour.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
@ol Harv. but NASCAR has a totally different structure. NASCAR drivers get a salary with a percentage of winnings on top of that. With no salary, PGA pros probably try to maximize money vs weeks on the road, which requires taking weeks off to peak at certain times. On top of that, the Race for the Cup structure means they can't afford to miss races. A PGA pro really only needs to stay in the top 50 (and don't even need that with other exemptions) to get into the only events that matter (majors).
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric
If been wondering if the top players would ever try to revolt against additional rules by either creating their own tour or trying to blow up the PGA Tour from the inside, but I think neither is likely in reality. I'd love to see the Ponte Vedra Mafia get taken down a few notches, but I don't see much promise for dramatic conflict over these things, even though we have several organizations (and hundreds of independent players) that are not working together on major issues.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim S
these "outta the top 50" players are playing for over one million dollars in first place money each of those 20 of those 22 weeks, and the other two the top 64-75 are all playing in a WGC or major. --sounds pretty good to me....
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGS Elevator
The WGCs are the real fly in the ointment for me.
It's elitist, the no cut is antithetical to competition and has lead to relatively dull events from the git go. Early on, there was the novelty of seeing some internationals you didn't get a look at outside of majors, but so many of the guys are based stateside now…
Either take them internationally (the week before the Scottish looks like a great spot for one in the UK; #yourwelcome) or lose them entirely.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
@ol Harv in 1980 the PGA Tour had 40+ events and Tom Watson played in 22 of them, Jack fewer. It's a nice story that back in the day (yada yada) but it hasn't been true for a while. And after playing in everything Nelson retired young, so I'm not exactly sure that's desirable from stars either.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Looks like the law of unintended consequences has kicked in to make the 22 less desirable to the top guys. But it will allow the journeymen to make money towards the top 125 status and maybe a chance at some FedEx $$$'s. Can't be all bad
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Morris
Much ado about nothing.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Elf, Thanks for ruining my childhood memories. 23 for Watson in 1980, check again. The point is, 23 is a lot more than 16. No one expects them to play every week, but if they just play in the majors and the WGC and a few others, that's not good.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
@Ol Harv I got snookered by the PGA Tours treatment of the British Open again! They count it as an unofficial event in 1980, hence the 22 (sigh). Other than Stricker most guys (even Tiger in an uninjured) play 20+ events worldwide (and remember Jack played less than Watson). The numbers really haven't changed all that much.

What has changed is that with 12 pseudo-required events, you have less dispersion of the top players at different events.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
What is NOT GOOD ol Harv?

These are the WORLD RANKED entries of the top 50 ranked players in the world over the past 104 weeks (2 years) that just arrived in my email inbox. The total entries exclude Cup competitions and other unranked events. Current world rankings follow the names in parentheses. The two kids with the fewest starts are brand new pros. Stricker is semi-retired. Other than those players, every single player has entered 40 or more events without counting Cup events.

There is a lot of 'myth" in some the supposed limited play arguments that are being batted about. Average total entries for this top 50 group is slightly more than 51 entries per player. Granted they are not all like Ryo Ishikawas (currently ranked number 149 on OWGR with an other worldly 76 ranked starts in the past 104 weeks), but they are also not all sitting home eating bon bons :-)

Yes, a world tour of sorts is emerging and it will likely continue to emerge. Seems that PT and the Federation have figured out that there is a great big world audience for high quality golf.

30 Hideki Matsuyama (30)
31 Jordan Spieth (21)
34 Steve Stricker (7)
40 Adam Scott (2)
42 Tiger Woods (1)
44 Jason Day (16)
45 Richard Sterne (41)
46 Bubba Watson (25)
47 Dustin Johnson (22)
47 Miguel A Jimenez (43)
48 Phil Mickelson (3)
48 Rory McIlroy (6)
48 Ian Poulter (20)
48 Ryan Moore (45)
49 Jamie Donaldson (44)
50 Jim Furyk (13)
50 Luke Donald (14)
50 Sergio Garcia (17)
50 Graham Delaet (32)
50 Rickie Fowler (33)
50 Thomas Bjorn (46)
51 Matt Kuchar (8)
51 Brandt Snedeker (9)
51 Webb Simpson (24)
52 Justin Rose (5)
52 Jason Dufner (10)
52 Zach Johnson (11)
53 Lee Westwood (18)
53 Jonas Blixt (34)
53 Peter Hanson (39)
54 Hunter Mahan (26)
54 Bill Haas (28)
54 Louis Oosthuizen (29)
54 Billy Horschel (35)
54 Kevin Streelman (36)
54 Bo Van Pelt (42)
55 Graeme McDowell (12)
55 Keegan Bradley (15)
55 Martin Kaymer (37)
56 Boo Weekley (48)
57 Matteo Manassero (31)
57 Francesco Molinari (47)
58 Charl Schwartzel (19)
58 Scott Piercy (40)
59 Henrik Stenson (4)
59 Nick Watney (27)
60 Branden Grace (38)
60 Thorbjorn Olesen (49)
61 D.A. Points (50)
62 Ernie Els (23)
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
The WGC's are boring, elitist, point stacking and other adjectives NSFW, as has been pointed out. Add the TW/18, the SA20, and the rich just keep getting richer, with less effort.

Anything that is remotely relatd to ''entertainment'' now has a boatload of subtitles. It used to just be rock and roll, country and western, blues, popular, classical, and now within country there is classic country, bubble country, Texas chart, and 20 other variations, and that is just C&W, we still have rock, then blues, then dance, then blah blah.......

And so with golf, look for variations in pro golf 1 day, 2 day, ''state leagues'', mixed sex, and 20 other ways of doing it, and they will all have a following and even TV time.

So figure out ehat you care about, and don't bother reading or commenting about the rest. None of it is going away.And rock on!

As for me, I like both kinds of AND western.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Guys, I really don't understand why Finchem hasn't taken more heat. He appears to have a monumental case of short man's ego (but without the Napoleonic genius to back it up). Wasn't he behind the huge expansion of the hugely money-losing TPC network? He replaced Q-school (the portion broadcast last year was much more exciting) with a scheme that's supposed to make people care more but is apparently doing the opposite. He expanded the regular season at the expense of the Fall/Silly Season, which had been every player's chance to recharge and, if necessary, rebuild. Last and most relevant to this discussion, he wedged the ridiculous FedEx Money Grab right after the PGA, a sure-fire way to burn out American players just before the Ryder Cup.

All of this belongs to Finchem, and he's apparently rewarded himself with a greatly expanded seven figure salary (and a cohort of highly-paid yes-men to justify the pay and blame when things go wrong). Sure, people will say, "look how much more money players earn now", but Honey Boo Boo could've increased tournament purses during the Tiger Woods era. Maybe worst of all, the nonprofit tax and governance structure has left Finchem more or less unaccountable, and the Tour has become so corporatist in structure and mindset that people sometimes forget that it's technically a nonprofit organization (take that, USGA critics).

Besides the huge ego and the greed and detachment of Tour Players, I blame the rest on the fact that Finchem never played for a living. Right?
S. Garrett and Elf, Take your stats to the Tournament Directors at John Deere, Byron Nelson, Sony, St.Jude, etc., and see if they agree. Pretty sure Tiger and Phil haven't played there in a while, along with a bunch of others.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
ol Harv, Get used to a world tour!
09.30.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSGarrett
@ol harv to paraphrase myself due to all the psuedo - required tournaments, you see less dispersion now. Phil and Tiger are not playing many fewer events than Jack and Tom. But Jack and Tom would play different events, now the top players all play the same event.

But no way in heck Jack or Tom would have routinely played Deere or Memphis either. Jack especially never played the week before a major.
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Saw an interview last week with Jeev Milka Singh, the Indian who plays mostly on the European Tour. This year he will have played in 35 events, including South Africa, Australia, the US, all over Europe and he's finishing with 6 events in Asia. What are these guys complaining about ? Anyone would think they don't enjoy playing golf .....
09.30.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
@david, It is such a mental strain.......
10.1.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Yeah, mental strain. That's it. I'll tell you about mental strain: Making a 9 on the 34th of 36 holes when you are tied for the lead in Championship B. Or maybe that was a mental breakdown. Either way, it was stressful. But not in the same universe as living on the paycheck-to-paycheck edge of financial catastrophe.
10.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
IF a PGA Tour elite-member has to play 16 sanctioned tournaments; four Majors plus four WGC events plus four Fed-Ex Cup finals and he's already at 12. Add the World Cup at Melbourne, Kapalua after New Year's, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and Phoenix Open and you can take the rest of the year off...and you've probably-traveled overseas at-least twice in the bargain. Do the Ryder and Presidents Cups count? ...With an official year-long wrap-around season, the "minor" tournaments are just going to have to try harder to attract the elite players.

And the dual-Tour Europeans still have to play additional Euro-sanctioned events as-well.
Do the figures for Nicklaus and Watson include their sojourns overseas? Jack came to play many times in Australia and spawned the next generation of Aussie golfers. Tiger won't come for anything short of millions, which is disgusting. Appearance fees are essentially a non performance bonus to players.

I'd like to see a few more matchplay events. Similar to how big time Amateur events are played out. 36 holes ranking then you play matchplay for the 64 that make the cut. AM and PM games. Start the clock on them so you see some fast brutal matches. 36 hole final. Back to a real match. Every player plays through to the Sunday, You would end up with a ranking from 1st to 64th. Beautiful!
10.2.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

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