For fans, there was only one piece of news that should have come out of FedEx's renewal that matters: an improved format and better flow to the PGA Tour schedule.
Given the complex nature of the changes being discussed, neither happened. But it's worth waiting to see how things play out in hopes of turning an odd algorithm-driven competition into one that is a true playoff at season's end. Because as Adam Schupak notes at MorningRead.com, the FedExCup extension brought more questions than answers.
Given that Commissioner Jay Monahan insisted there were no plans to move The Players back to March, the possibility of a a schedule change still seems up in the air. Yet FedEx's rep, Patrick Fitzgerald, gave away his excitement at the potential schedule refinement in a Monday gathering of select press:
There is some exciting potential when you look at the schedule and other things, but I don't know what the best answer will be yet, and that's why we are so fortunate that we have a close collaborative working relationship with the TOUR, and they have a very clear view of some potential things that could change and how that would affect things. So I'm confident that if the schedule changes, it will be in the best interest of golf and of the FedExCup.
Format tweaks were not discussed but seem possible. They even seem a priority based on some of the comments made by both men.
However a bigger question remains: is securing FedEx's sponsorship more important than any other relationship the Tour enjoys?
Doug Ferguson asked about this in Monahan's press conference:
Q. Can you just ever see a day where a tournament that performs well in its community and charity and everything else, there's not room for it on the schedule?
JAY MONAHAN: No, I think there will always be room. Using that fact pattern, there will always be room because you're talking about a tournament that's performed very well, that's performed well for us and we have got a strong relationship with, so I could see change in the schedule, but I can't see a removal of a partner from our schedule, because we have a duty and a commitment the to do everything we can to build those partnerships. I don't know, but that would be my response to it; we're certainly not thinking that way.
Yet contraction seems likely in some markets and a longtime charity could be hurt in the effort to tighten up the "product".
And now player pocketbooks may take a hit at the behest of FedEx.
An exclusivity clause was part of the new 10-year agreement, reports GolfChannel.com's Rex Hoggard. This could be harmless, or could set off dreadful corporate boundary wars that also target players not endorsed by preferred partners.
According to sources, the clause will keep players from participating in the season-long race if they have endorsement deals with one of FedEx’s competitors.
“All I'm going to say on that front is when you're in business with someone for 30 years, and you're about to commit to 10 more, you do some things to protect each other on a long-term basis,” commissioner Jay Monahan said. “That's what we've done in this agreement, and our players know that; our players understand it; our players think so highly of FedEx and what they've meant to them in terms of playing financial opportunities. So we do everything we can to protect our partners.”
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen both have endorsement deals with UPS but have been grandfathered in and will not be impacted.
Could UPS logos on shirts really have been that terrible for FedEx that the deal hinged on such a request? Call me crazy, but lame points resets and the overall view of a bloated, boring competition should have been priority number one over a corporate turf war.
Overall, these are entirely first-world matters and I sense the end goal of Monahan and FedEx is to create something that is fan friendlier, more entertaining and better in the sports landscape.
But getting there is not going to be easy or, at times, very pretty.