Las Vegas On Las Vegas

I watched parts of the rain-delayed Las Vegas final round as it moved yesterday from ESPN on ABC, to ESPN on ABC on and finally, to ESPN on ABC on ESPN2. (International's a long story. A branding thing.)

Besides the lack of star power, the lack of a fan base was painfully obvious. Ed Graney in the Las Vegas paper notes that it's a problem likely to worsen when the event moves to the "Fall Finish."

Golf is about to undergo a change that will either re-energize an indifferent fan base or continue to keep casual followers at an AccuFLEX shaft distance away from any event that doesn't include Woods, a transformation that could ultimately determine where the Las Vegas tournament fits into the sport's long-term landscape.

The question is not whether the event can improve greatly (if at all) in stature -- Hoffman couldn't be more correct in his assessment that it is what it is -- but whether a newly designed PGA playoff system will lessen its appeal to golfers (and in turn fans) even more.

There always will be a place at the event for the golf purist, for those who truly appreciate the idea of walking alongside the world's No. 2 player (it's Jim Furyk for those who don't know, which means most everyone) and not having to strain their neck glancing over rows of heads to watch him putt.

But when the FedEx Cup portion of the 2007 schedule concludes at the Tour Championship next mid-September and the $10 million payday has been awarded to the first points champion, how much interest will remain for a seven-tournament fall series than includes the Las Vegas stop?

And what can those running the event here do to make it more than just another week for those players merely trying to avoid Q-school or improve their world ranking?