You know since I've been doing this blogging thing I've seen some soft questions thrown at Tim Finchem, but never have the assembled scribblers and inkslingers lobbed 'em up so generously before.
Let's start with the illiterate. Apparently this scribbler does not subscribe to any golf publication...
Q. Was Pete Dye involved in the revisions, and to what extent if you would?Who let Jeff Gannon in the room?
Here's another one:
Q. There's been a lot of unofficial talk about the purse this week. Can you confirm what the purse is and whether the final amount is a world record for a golf tournament?Wow, they clocked that one at 19 mph!
And Finchem's answer, also available in oh, every major or minor publication:
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Is it a world record? The purse is $9 million. The record part I'm not -- I'd have to defer to our brain trust over here.
JAMES CRAMER: We'll have to look. We'll research that.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I've learned over the years never to jump in and say, "Yeah, absolutely."
Well, except when Manougian said "how about 15 years?"
Back to the fast balls...
Q. What was your reaction to Tiger calling 17 gimmicky, being that it plays such a central role in this tournament?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I read the transcript. It doesn't trouble me. There are an awful lot of players over the years who have not had a good time at 17 for whatever reason. It plays -- you know, his suggestion that maybe it should be No. 8 is an interesting one. It plays as No. 8 -- everybody who's ever played the tournament has played it as No. 8 because we have a two-tee start on Thursday and Friday, so they have that experience. He's the first player I've heard suggest that we move it to No. 8 on the weekend. We don't intend to do that. I saw in his comments he used the word "wonderful" related to the hole, so I like that part.
Q. It was somewhat confusing. We weren't sure if it was wonderful or gimmicky.
You can just feel the tension in the room! I bet Tony Snow reads this and thinks, I have it easy!
Q. You're now 33 years into this thing. Every year we come here and there's always the question fifth major, is it a major, isn't it a major. Where do you see that argument going or that discussion going, and how does it get -- Jack yesterday said maybe it could replace one of the existing four. What do you see happening down the road here?
Yes, what would a Players press conference be without a fifth major question?
Wait, finally something tough...
Q. Does Tiger and to a lesser extent Phil have more influence on TOUR decisions and how the TOUR is run than other players?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No.
Wow, we know how to stop the Commissioner from rambling!
Nice follow up too:
Q. And if not, do you think there's a perception that they do and how do you confront that?
Here's where the rambling answer unravels a bit:
I continue to be amused -- I'll give you one example. I just read an article here this week that said that the reason for the FedExCup was because Phil and Tiger wanted a shorter season. That's just wrong. It actually had nothing to do with the FedExCup. I mean, it's true that Tiger and Phil at one point or another have said, you know, I'd like to see a shorter season. I think lots of top players over the years -- a lot of players generally have said I'd like to see a shorter season. Why is that? It's a long season. It starts in January and goes until November. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that if you're going to end the season with the TOUR Championship and it's well into the football season, that's a challenge.
So we wanted to convert that to a system where we could have a good solid season to a section of our season and maintain solid playing opportunities for the membership, so we managed the situation where we have $32 million in prize money in the fall and we have the FedExCup, and these guys can decide how they want to use that platform. I think there is way too much written about that subject from a perception standpoint than relates to the real world.
Oops, we launched into nonsensical MBASpeak mode. You know what that means? Translation: Phil and Tiger wanted a shorter season.
More hard-hitting stuff:
Q. As a fan of all sports, I enjoy Major League's Homerun Contest or NBA's Slam Dunk Contest. I don't know if it's in the works or not, but would it be asking too much to have a TOUR long drive contest this week in the future since there is no Pro-Am?
And here's where Finchem's saying to himself, "I picked the wrong week to stop wearing deodorant."
Q. What is your assessment of the way the FedExCup race is going, and do you see it picking up even more popularity as it continues?
Our assessment right now is it is an absolute plus for the TOUR and for tournaments and for sponsors and for the players, no question. How big of a plus, we'll have a better sense of after the Playoffs this year, and then we'll see what happens next year. But if we get a good base late this year then I think we'll be in good shape for next year.
I think we have to be careful to remind fans that this is in addition to everything else we've had. It's not in place of anything. It doesn't take the place of some things that the Money List stands for. It doesn't -- it is not in competition with THE PLAYERS or the PGA Championship or any of that. It stands for what it is; it's a season-long competition, and I'm delighted that the players see it that way, are supporting it, and I'm pleased that from my perspective, maybe not 100 percent, but virtually all the players that are in those top seeds going into the competition will play all four weeks, which that would be the first time that ever happened in this sport, and I think it would be pretty exciting.
Wow, that was productive.