Sympatico Column: Finchem's Flex Plan Won't Help the RBC Canadian Open

I wrote and filed this yesterday, but in the onslaught of material on Sympatico/MSN, it didn’t end up on the site until this afternoon. Now we’re in the midst of another thunderstorm…

I find Finchem’s “flex” schedule a bit difficult to follow — especially since he provides little to no details. And that’s not just to reporters — that’s to pretty much anyone. Apparently, he doesn’t provide details to anyone — including the RCGA. Finchem was only in on Wednesday briefly — he’s got 10 sponsorships up in the air, according to sources, and is trying to keep a lot of balls in the air at once.

Anyway, how does this impact RBC and the Canadian Open? Who knows. Finchem isn’t saying. But a flex schedule, in which the tournament moves between a couple of different dates, still doesn’t guarantee that Tiger Woods will make an appearance in Canada. A every tournament in four years rule would, which is the point of this column:

Tim Finchem thinks the PGA Tour needs to be more flexible “ but it isn’t necessarily the players that need to be flexible in tackling more events.

Instead, Finchem, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, says the tour needs to consider a “flex schedule,” that would see certain events “ like the RBC Canadian Open “ shuffled about in order to provide them with the chance possibility of enticing the game’s bigger names.

But don’t hold your breath. The economy in Canada has slowed, and it tanked in the U.S., but Finchem isn’t planning to react any time soon. The “flex” concept is three years out “ at the earliest he says “ though that could change given there are at least 10 tournament sponsorships coming due.
“One of the things we’re looking at in the mid-term, which would be after our television agreements are renewed … is going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates so that they can take advantage of reaching more players,” he explained.

If you sub the names Sergio, Phil and Tiger in place of “more players,” and “2012” for the date the television deal with the PGA Tour expires, then Finchem’s comments be more to the point. His remarks were made on Wednesday, a day before Tiger Woods — who has skipped the Canadian Open since 2001 “ announced he’d play next week in Michigan at the Buick Open.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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