The USA Today's Jerry Potter files this downer on the lack of interest in the FedEx Cup:
That's the problem PGA Tour executives have identified with the season-long points system that will set up a four-event season-ending playoff with a $10 million first-place prize: Neither the players nor the media are talking it up. No one, in fact, seems to be talking about the FedExCup except PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.Hmm...not sure about this baseball analogy.
Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports, said Tuesday that was to be expected. He has seen this scenario before, notably with Major League Baseball and NASCAR. NBC will televise the final three events of the season, or three of the four events that make up the playoff that ends in mid-September with The Tour Championship in Atlanta.
"All of what we say now is speculation," he says. "We won't know about the Cup's impact until we get through the season, and we may not know then."
Schanzer and NBC were involved when baseball expanded to division playoffs, and they were involved when NASCAR went to the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the model for golf's system.
"I told Bud Selig (baseball's commissioner) and Brian France (NASCAR's president) to get ready for a lot of criticism," he says of the first year of changes in baseball and NASCAR. "I told them at the end of the first year it will either work or it won't work. There's no way to know. All you can know is that it makes a lot of sense."
Those changes have worked for baseball and NASCAR, creating more interest. The PGA Tour is different because it has long been driven by the four major championships. The Masters is past, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship come in June, July and August, respectively.Oh dear Lord.
Ric Clarson, the Tour's senior vice president for brand development, says two big events played in consecutive weeks — the Aug. 2-5 Bridgestone Invitational and Aug. 9-12 PGA Championship — will heighten focus because combined they'll award 15% more points.
"We're positioning them as the 15th and 16th games of the NFL season," he said. "Those games determine who gets in the playoff and who has home-field advantage."
Last week at The Players Championship, Finchem repeated his refrain that the system is a plus for the Tour, its players, sponsors and tournaments.Oh? Uh, not really...
"We have to get people engaged in the playoffs," he says.
One positive sign for Finchem came Tuesday.
Corey Pavin said the FedExCup might give a lift to the July 19-22 U.S. Bank Championship, which is played in Milwaukee opposite the British Open. Players who don't qualify for the Open, he suggested, might come to Milwaukee to play for positioning in the FedExCup standings instead of taking the weekend off.
"If they need to play some more, they're going to add more tournaments in to make sure they get up as high on that list as they can get," said Pavin, the defending champ.
Yes, a very positive sign. I take it today was U.S. Bank Media Day?