Some of the more intriguing Q&A moments from Tim Finchem's State of the Tour press conference:
Q. Of the number of players, 175 or whatever that start the season, how many do you imagine would be in the running to get to the TOUR Championship? Once the first stage of the points system is over, how many do you imagine would have a chance to compete for those 30 spots in the TOUR Championship?
COMM. TIM FINCHEM: It depends entirely on the way the point system is developed. We intentionally last summer put off the discussion of points because it's detailed, it's involved. The players are going to want a lot of opportunity to comment, and frankly, it wasn't necessary to complete it for television or discussions with FedEx.
Now, we expect that if player A goes through the first part of the season, is seeded No. 1 and has amassed a 4,000 point lead over No. 2, those seedings are going to bring that No. 1 and No. 2 back very close together because playoffs are all about starting over. You position yourselves. It will probably be worth like a small home field advantage.
Uh, home field advantage? In what way? Oh sorry, I interrupted. This is bound to make sense shortly.
But what those increments are will tell you what the mathematical chances of making the TOUR Championship are. I don't know that. It could be 144, could be 110, could be 90. It will be a healthy number of players, though, and there will be great volatility going through those three weeks in jockeying back and forth because it's our assumption everybody is going to play. It's going to be difficult for a player not to play and have a chance. The rewards at the end of that stream are significant, not just at the No. 1 position but down. So your competition is all playing, you have to play, and the point structure is going to be such that there's a lot of volatility.
And apparently we'll care more as viewers? Hmmm...
Q. Commissioner, the outlines of what you have suggested, they sound a little bit like the way NASCAR restructured themselves for the Nextel Cup. How much did you look at that organization?
COMM. TIM FINCHEM: Well, you might note that we have had the Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour now for a number of years. So we think that we have some experience in the year long competitions, and we frankly think that that competition has had a very positive effect on that Tour.
A little touchy about the copying-NASCAR thing aren't we?
Q. How do you address some of the concerns of the tournament directors or individual tournaments that all of this is leading toward a two tier system, between has and have nots, where you have a wider gap in purses, maybe lesser fields for some of these tournaments? Is there an issue there?
COMM. TIM FINCHEM: I don't think so. Eight years ago I heard those concerns when we added the World Golf Championships to our schedule. I think the fundamental is that over the years, the PGA TOUR as a brand and a concept as something in sports has grown significantly, and that growth has underpinned all of our tournaments. Any tournament that's on our Tour now can market itself successfully with good management.
But who besides the top players $ees the World Championship events as a rousing success? Sorry, continue...
I've often said that we're jealous of some of the team sports if you walk into an NFL stadium or NBA arena, you could close your eyes and not know which city you're in. Because of the nature of our sport, we have to deal with different real estate and golf courses. But from the positioning of the tournament in the marketplace and the staging of the tournament, there shouldn't be that much difference, and I honestly think that with the FedEx Cup and some other things we're going to do, we're going to be there in '07, and that's going to diminish any concerns that our Tour has. We'll be able to grow their charitable functions across the board, they'll all have quality fields, marketable fields.
Q. Could you talk about how the seeding would work, like what the benefits of being a higher seed as opposed to a lower seed would be going into those final four events?
COMM. TIM FINCHEM: Well, you want to be a high seed because, like I said, you're not starting from zero in the seeding. You will have a certain number of points walking into the first event as a base, and if you're the No. 1 seed, it's going to be this much comparative difference between you and No. 5 over three events to get to the fourth event, that much more between you and No. 10, 15 and 20. So you're going to be heavily incentivized to achieve the highest possible seed because mathematically you're better positioned given your playing level to get into the Top 5 or 10 in the cup, and again, the financials are going to be heavily weighted toward the Cup.
He was asked about player thoughts on this and whether it would "incentivize" them to play more. The transcript is not correct here, but you get the point:
You will be able to run you'll get this because we'll be showing it to players next year anything we show to players is not confidential.
Ah, so that's why the players are totally in the dark on the new schedule! They are free to talk to the press about what they know.