Sympatico Column: FedEx Follies Without Woods

This week’s Sympatico column, about the challenges of not having Tiger Woods in the Tour Championship, is online and you can read it here.

If you want more to entice you to read further, here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

In its first two years pundits bludgeoned the PGA Tour about how easy it was for players like Tiger Woods to breeze into the final round of the FedEx Cup.

In 2007, the playoff system’s first season, golf’s best player took a week off from the month-long competition and still won the prize awarded at the end of the Tour Championship.
Now the question is whether golf’s playoffs work without its greatest asset – namely Woods, who sits out this week after failing to advance to the final tournament of the FedEx Cup.
Woods absence shows there’s still a big issue with the playoff, despite the fact it has been tweaked constantly since the $10-million top prize was first handed out three years ago. After all, he may have been derailed by the sex scandal and ensuing divorce, but Woods is still golf No. 1 player and the defending FedEx champion. Doesn’t it make sense that the winner of the previous year would be one of the final 30 golfers who show up at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta? Think about it – golf’s biggest surge in interest comes when Woods tips it up, typically around 15 times a year. Shouldn’t the PGA Tour be trying to find a way to get him to play more often, instead of giving him an extended break heading into the Ryder Cup at the start of October?
Without Woods in the field, and given the fact television ratings for golf always suffer when he’s not playing, one has to wonder how many people care whether Martin Laird wins the FedEx Cup. There’s no doubt Laird is a great player, as is 43-year old Steve Stricker, who is also in the hunt this week. But neither of them makes viewers’ pulses race or drive TV ratings up. They are great golfers, but frankly, they aren’t exactly dynamic players. Or what about Kevin Streelman, who had an average year but finds himself in the Tour Championship by accomplishing, well, nothing much of note.

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Jeff Lancaster

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  • If the PGA Tour tweaked the rules to allow the defending champion back in this year’s event it would be criminal. Had they put that rule in place one year ago, or at least before Woods golf performance went sideways (by his standards), it would be okay, but it also would have presented a different problem. That is, if Woods were guaranteed a spot in the Tour Championship, would he have played the weeks leading up to the grand finale?

    The facts remain: (1) golf is not a sport where playoffs work; (2) The FedEx Cup is not going to draw football fans away from their games on Sunday; (3) and Woods has a bad year and does not deserve to be in the FedEx cup.

    I recognize that the PGA Tour is a business and has to be run as such, but the Tour shouldn’t be compromising at all costs to see the almighty Woods in action. If Woods was so concerned he could have played in more events to gain more points during the regular season, just like the rest did!

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