Who Killed Designated Tournaments?

Not surprisingly, the reviews are in and they aren't pretty: no one can figure how a simple, common sense proposal to help struggling PGA Tour stops attract a few more top players died after no significant opposition.

The more I ponder this one and the dreadful ramifications heading into a television contract negotiation, the less the demise of "designated tournaments" makes sense for anyone with an interest in the tour's future. Consider the various entities with a stake.

  • The Commissioner wanted it. He does not go public with something and then change his mind. Ever.
  • Tournament directors were (at least publicly) in favor of the proposal, even if their event risked branding as an also-ran in need of help via the designated tournament label.  The viewing public could care less how they get to see a few more top players as long as they have a better experience.
  • Sponsors undoubtedly were in favor, and you have to figure no network executive was opposed to improving a field at select events.
  • Players did not openly oppose the proposed change and most voiced support for what amounted to a  small sacrifice.

That leaves us with only one possibility! Our two favorite stars, who the FedExCup has been built around and who have the commissioner's ear, suggested they might re-think their PGA Tour membership.

Now, I have a hard time believing Phil Mickelson would drop his PGA Tour membership over such a policy change, but he did put PING wedges in his bag to prove a point. So anything's possible.

Then there's Tiger, and you know the only thing he hates more than people he perceives to be making money off his back? That's right, being told where and when he can play.

Tiger could drop his tour membership and still get in the golf he needs to please sponsors and to aid in his preparation for majors. But with such a move would come a public relations black eye for Tiger and a nightmare scenario for the PGA Tour heading into the television contract negotiations next year.

We'll never know unless they admit who killed the mandatory designated tournament policy, but I'll always wonder if Tiger threatened to resign his membership over this as one top agent suggested to Steve Elling.