Woods Camp Not Excited about Chevron Tourney Date It Was Once Excited About

Doug Ferguson reports that Tiger and friends want to go back to the old date even though tournament director Greg McLaughlin said just a few months ago that they it would be great:

We are excited about the field and we are excited about a week of December 15th to the 21st, which we think will be great. 

This is a little like the Classic Club debacle. It was obvious this would be a bad idea as far back as last year when it was announced. Everyone in the press tent had the same reaction: why the week before Christmas?

So why does it have to take the actual experiencing of the clearly bad idea before the overpaid handsomely compensated people in charge figure these things out?

PGA Tour Par 4 Performance

Reader Ken emailed a list detailing the number of players finishing a PGA Tour season under par on par-4s. You can view the 2008 list here, where John Huston was the only player in 2008 to finish in red numbers for the season.

I've left Ken's notes in about major equipment advances as they might relate to performance. I'd love to hear what everyone thinks of the surprising trend in recent years. Naturally, I'd look to stifling course setup ploys as the number one culprit, but if I'm not mistaken Ken is implying that performance has been impacted by technology. He also notes that Tiger was -8 on par 4s this year in his 8 events. And note that in 2000 Tiger was -71 on par-4s, and Steve Flesch was second at -70!

1983 - 1 - TM Tour Burner introduced

1984 - 1

1985 - 4

1986 - 2

1987 - 11 - Non-wound ball wins first major (Tour Edition)

1988 - 22 –first time metal drivers outnumber wood

1989 – 7 - Callaway introduces S2H2 metalwoods

1990 - 5

1991 - 12 - Big Bertha introduced

1992 - 18 - Titleist Professional introduced

1993 - 14

1994- 15

1995 – 13 - Great Big Bertha introduced

1996 – 8 - multilayer balls and urethane cover introduced

1997 – 4 - Biggest Big Bertha introduced

1998 - 6

1999 - 8

2000 – 27 - Pro V1 introduced, Tiger switches to Nike ball

2001 – 37 - Pro V1 takes tours by storm

2002 – 17

2003 - 12

2004 - 8

2005 - 7

2006 - 5

2007 - 5

2008 - 1

"The Skins is tired and stale."

Since the Skins Game will never be able to afford to keep up with today's purses and they won't let players throw their own money in the pot to liven things up (not that they would!), John Strege comes up with the best solution I've read yet to resurrect the event. I'm not sure how the NCAA would feel about it, but the Brand Lady will love it.

"A source of mirth in some circles because Woods is reported to drive a Porsche."

A few interesting bits regarding the Tiger/Buick break up, starting with some added information in Greg Bensinger and Michael Buteau's original Bloomberg story.

Sales of Buick vehicles in the U.S. plunged 58 percent to 185,791 units from 1999 to 2007, more than any other GM brand in the period. Sales of the 105-year-old Buick brand peaked in 1984 at 941,611, according to trade publication Automotive News.

The median age of new Buick retail buyers in 2008 was 68 in the U.S., the same as in 1997, said Alexander Edwards, head of the auto research division at the San Diego-based firm. Only about 1 percent of the Buicks sold at retail in 1997 went to consumers 34 or younger, and that share fell to less than half a percent for those sold in 2008, Edwards said.

Lawrence Donegan writing in the Guardian, reminds us that Stevie's going to be carrying a new bag next year.

The deal between GM and Woods, said to be worth more than $10m (£6.6m) a year to the golfer, had endured for almost a decade and become one of the most visible sponsorship arrangements in sport, not least because Woods' golf bag had been transformed into an advertisement for Buick, one of the carmaker's brands.

As part of the deal, the world No1 also took part in television commercials for the budget-priced range of cars - a source of mirth in some circles because Woods is reported to drive a Porsche.

Yes, the PGA Tour has signed deals with every one of its sponsors through at least 2010 -- including the two tournaments sponsored by Buick. But there is far more to these events than the title sponsor, which help put up funds for the purse and get the events on television.

Thankfully, Doug Ferguson says Steiney is on the case.

Steinberg said he would ``expect there to be some exposure on the bag'' when Woods next plays.

``I've got a few ideas, and we're in the process of working through that,'' he said.

And Bob Harig sees this is a bad sign for the PGA Tour:

The actual running of the tournaments is left to local organizing bodies, most of them non-profit organizations that solicit dozens if not hundreds of lower-level sponsorships and must rely on a horde of volunteers to even exist.

While it is not the $7 million or so necessary to be a title sponsor, big money -- often six-figure fees -- is spent on hospitality tents or corporate chalets. Doesn't it seem logical that these companies would cut back, too?

Hunter Mahan Will Cross California State Line To Play In Chevron World Challenge

It's touching to witness Hunter Mahan's bravery in deciding to enter a golf tournament here in California, that offensive state he made the mistake of acknowledging to President Bush as his birthplace!

More importantly, Stephen Ames is in the same field. Hopefully he'll be coming off his ninth straight Skins Game win!

COME JOIN TIGER WOODS AS HE PLAYS HOST TO 16 PGA TOUR PROFESSIONALS AT THE CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE DEC. 17-21

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (November 17, 2008)— It’s Tiger Wood’s tournament and you are invited! Don’t miss your chance to join Tiger as he plays host to 16 elite PGA TOUR professionals for the Chevron World Challenge presented by Bank of America. On December 17-21 at Sherwood Country Club, Woods will return to Southern California in his official role as host of the prestigious co-sponsored PGA TOUR event. Woods will be on hand to kick off the tournament starting with the annual Pro-Am on Wednesday. The tournaments 10th year of professional play begins Thursday and ends with Woods’ award ceremony on Sunday.

“Even though I can’t play, I’m looking forward to joining the fans for another exciting Chevron World Challenge while raising money for my Foundation,” Woods said. “I will be there to support the players, watch an incredible week of golf, and participate in the award ceremony.”

The Chevron World Challenge field is comprised of 16 players, the top 12 players from the Official World Golf Ranking who accept the invitation to complete and four players who are awarded special exemption. This year’s field includes Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis, Fred Couples, Paul Casey, Boo Weekley, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, Luke Donald and Stephen Ames. 

"In the first two hours of the final round, six different players were in the projected No. 125 slot, the position needed to keep a full card for next year."

Steve Elling on the incredible scenarios that played out this week for the Top 125 bubble boys, including Martin Laird, Shane Bertsch, Jeff Overton and Jason Gore.

Scottish rookie Martin Laird, who began the week at No. 126, eked past Shane Bertsch, who missed the cut after starting the week at No. 124. All the former had to do was make a crucial eight-footer for par on the final hole, knowing full well that he was surely dead in the Disney World swamp water if he didn't.

After the putt dropped, he buried his face in a hand and stared the grass. It was a mix of relief with a smidge of uncertainty, since he thought he had blown it with a three-putt on the 12th and another bogey on the 16th.

"I honestly didn't know," said Laird, who finished in a four-way for 21st. "I still thought it would be close. But I knew if I missed it, I had zero chance." 

 

Compton Makes The Cut!

Truly one of the more amazing accomplishments the PGA Tour has seen in a long time. Playing in (what I believe) is his second serious event since his second transplant, Erik Compton makes the cut at the Children's Miracle Network event in advance of next week's second round of Q-school. Steve Elling writes:

Making a series of clutch putts down the stretch, Compton shot a 4-under 68 in the second round and made the 36-hole cut by two shots, moving into a tie for 51st, 10 shots behind leader Scott Verplank.

Verplank plays with an insulin pump on his belt, but that's kid stuff compared with the increasingly impressive Compton resume.

"It's amazing," said Spain's Alejandro Canizares, who was paired with Compton the first two days and finished 1 over to miss the cut. "It takes a lot of courage. Hopefully he plays a little better on the weekend and gets lucky." 

 

"You want to know why I'm not worried about it?"

Steve Elling looks at the top 125 bubble boys, and shares this anecdote that will probably have you watching Shane Bertsch's scores this week:

Shane Bertsch is No. 124 on the money list and by no means out of harm's way, but when he was approached about his stress level, he laughed.

"You want to know why I'm not worried about it?" he said.

Well, yeah. Bertsch played this year on a 28-tournament medical extension granted because he had vertigo in 2007. He was required to match the dollar amount of the player who finished No. 125 last year to keep playing.

Which he did, reaching the total at the Turning Stone event five weeks ago, which he believed cleared him for all of 2009.

Oops.

However, the medical exemption is for 2008, not 2009. Flatly put, like everybody else, he needs to finish in the top 125 this week to keep his card for 2009.

A tour official had to call Bertsch on Tuesday night to break the bad news that he had misinterpreted the rulebook. Worse, Bertsch skipped playing last week, too, passing a possible check that could have padded his total.

Forget the vertigo. His head must really be spinning now. But at least he knows his true standing.

"Phil [Mickelson] isn't going to come up (onstage) and try to do karaoke while I'm doing my show."

JT managed to lure both John Hawkins and Alan Shipnuck to Vegas for game stories in their respective publications, and in the same press center! A Nobel peace prize may be next.

Hawkins notes this about the Las Vegas event:

Still, this was a marked improvement over recent gatherings in Vegas. Timberlake wisely ditched the three-course rotation that made this tournament so needlessly complicated -- it wasn't like the venues were within a 7-iron of each other -- and centralized everything at TPC Summerlin. Formerly a 72-hole pro-am, J.T. removed the chopper factor from the competitive arena, saying, "Phil [Mickelson] isn't going to come up (onstage) and try to do karaoke while I'm doing my show."

Shipnuck focuses on the overall economic state of the tour after praising Timberlake's turnaround of the moribund event. He offers this about the tax implications of an Obama presidency:

Paul Azinger estimated last week that his colleagues are 99% Republican (and that may be a conservative number) primarily because the players vote their pocketbooks. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center, recently cited in Rolling Stone, estimated that for those who make more than $1 million a year — which, including endorsements, is pretty much the entire Tour — the out-of-pocket difference between the tax plans of Barack Obama and John McCain is nearly $270,000. If Obama rides his lead in the polls to victory next month, Tour players will be feeling pain that is more than ideological.

Timberlake And The Tour

I continue to hear a lot of grumbling about the PGA Tour joining forces with Justin Timberlake to host to save this week's Las Vegas event and after everything we know about him I'm not really quite sure what the fuss is all about. He's one of the biggest stars in the world and a potentially huge aid in improving the game's image with people under the age of 30. Of course there will always be letters like this one Bob Carney posted at GolfDigest.com about putting "JT" on the cover (the reader probably thinking Bing and Glen were nightly churchgoers).

If you read Craig Bestrom's Digest interview with Timberlake, you'll find that's he very much in touch with what's going on in the game, he's passionate about playing and he really, really hates slow play. How can you not respect that?


"The partnership with corporate America is mandatory to the survival of his workplace..."

Having read an expanded version of Kenny Perry's whining last week at East Lake in Golf World's Tour Talk (not posted but even worse than this), I was struck by how few writers pounced on this dreadful example of a truly spoiled brat.

Jim McCabe notes Kenny's ruined week and points this out:

The partnership with corporate America is mandatory to the survival of his workplace and perhaps if Perry would come out of his pampered PGA Tour world he would discover that it's not the most solid of landscapes these days. Thus, one can only wonder how his comments went over with officials high up at Coca-Cola and FedEx. Since those folks were largely responsible for Perry getting payments of $120,400 (T-24 in the tournament) and $250,000 (season-long points race), it would be interesting to see if they apologized for having "ruined" his week.

"It takes a lot of stress off me, and it gives me a realistic chance."

Randall Mell reports the good news that the PGA Tour has granted heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton a cart for Q-School.

Compton was informed by telephone this afternoon, PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw confirmed. Compton said he expects written verification by FedEx on Wednesday.
Now, if they sent him a letter saying "no," would they send it DHL?


Hawkins: PGA Tour May Be Open To Good Idea!

It's one thing for a cerebral tour player like Joe Ogilvie to be coming around on the brilliant FedEx Cup fix proposed by yours truly last year in Golf World.

But to see a media colleague, one who is a star and a man who doesn't have to write back-of-the-magazine notes, now taking the same view? it's heartwarming in ways I never imagined.

John Hawkins in this week's Golf World on GolfDigest.com:

One logical and recently discussed scenario involves an 18-hole shootout among the top four to eight players in the standings. The Tour Championship would begin on Wednesday and conclude on Saturday, leaving Sunday open for the last men standing to play one round of stroke-play golf for a whole lot of money. "In theory, it's a pretty good concept," says Joe Ogilvie, a member of the tour's policy board.

Votaw acknowledges the shootout as an option and adds, "It may seem alluring in some respects. We may come up with a better idea or receive feedback that leads us in another direction."
Cruel of Hawkins to have put the question to the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, who oversaw the creation of the LPGA's similar ADT Championship. That said, isn't it wonderful to see that after hitting rock bottom, they might consider something that people actually want to watch. My heart is warming so much, I have to go now.

Before I do, about those ratings...
Saturday's third round on NBC had an overnight Nielsen rating of 1.3, down 46.4% from last year's 2.8 (that turned out to be a 2.6 in the final rating).

Sunday's fourth round had an overnight rating of 1.8, down 54.5% from last year's 3.3 (a 3.0 final rating).

“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here"

One week after a major brand, uh, refurbishment and platform expansion, Kenny Perry worked ably to reestablish his image as a spoiled tour professional by pointing out the sheer awfulness of having to appear in a 30-man, $7 million+ giveaway as millions of Americans worried about paying their electric bill.

Jeff Rude reminds us why Kenny will always be Kenny:

Perry shot 76-75 the first two days and wasn’t happy he had to submit to a random drug test for the second time since the program’s inception in July.
“This has ruined the greatest week of my life coming here,” said Perry, adding he’d rather be home celebrating his Ryder success. “It really has.”
It’s refreshing that a professional athlete in effect is saying big money isn’t everything.
Well that's certainly one unusual way to look at it.

Commissioner: when you fine him, fine him good.

Which reminds me, I guess the horror of peeing in a cup at the Tour Championship probably means that Ryder Cup drug testing we heard about never happened?

Vijay Becomes First To Win FedEx Cup Without Winning Tour Championship

Granted, it was year two, but the worst traditions have to start some place.

Bob Harig at ESPN.com:

Meanwhile, Singh was being congratulated on his $10 million haul despite never breaking 70 during four rounds, never contending for the tournament title and finishing tied for 22nd. With an hour to go in the tournament, Singh was collecting the hardware from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a strange, made-for-TV ceremony.

That scenario was always a danger in this new-fangled system that has the PGA Tour crowning a season-long champion on the same day it gives a trophy to the winner of one of its supposedly prestigious tournaments.

What happens when the winner of the FedEx Cup is not the winner of the Tour Championship?
Steve Elling at CBSSports.com on the oddity of Camillo Villegas winning just as many playoff events as Vijay, including the final event, and coming away the runner up:
Had the rest of the four-week playoff series played out the same way, Villegas could have won the first-place $10 million had he not missed the cut at The Barclays, the FedEx opener, by one thin shot. In fact, had he just played on the weekend, he could have finished dead last among those who made the cut and still earned enough points to ultimately slide past Singh into first place at the end of the rainbow, assuming all things remained equal elsewhere.

Breaking it down, Singh won the first two FedEx events and Villegas won the last two. At the second, won by Singh in Boston, Villegas played in the final group and finished tied for third. In other words, throw out the missed cut and he arguably outplayed Singh over four weeks. Singh, who was T44 and T22 in his last two starts, just didn't miss a cut and scored points at all four venues.

Villegas didn't much want to talk about the details.

"That was an expensive cut," he said. "That's the way this game goes. If I knew that was the case, I don't know what I would have done different. But you've just got to be in the present.

"Again, the FedEx Cup, it's great for the game. We need to get the points system better, and I'm not saying this because I finished second. I've been saying this since Day 1. I had a chance to sit down with the commissioner this Wednesday and share some ideas.

"We just need to make it fun for the fans and fun for us. So FedEx has done a great job in putting all this together, and I'm sure the tour is grinding and trying to get it as good as they can."

For a defective product, it was as good as could be expected.

Tour Championship: "The catering equivalent of a turd in the punchbowl."

Steve Elling writes:

The Tour Championship's importance has been wrecked by a sad confluence of events that left a tournament designed to be a grand finale into the catering equivalent of a turd in the punchbowl.

Yes, it starts today.

Would this be a bad time to bring up this proposal again? Promise I won't mention it again.