PGA cheapens fall product

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Enjoy the Presidents Cup from Royal Montreal as much as possible this week.

Not only is it the biggest golf to hit this country, but it also will be the last marquee event before the lights go out on the 2007 PGA Tour season. Oh sure, there are more events left in the Fall Series, but we're definitely on the dark side of the tour schedule.

The remaining tournaments are just spare parts after the tour dissected its schedule to accommodate the just-concluded FedEx Cup, which itself has been the target of criticism after obvious player apathy and confusion among fans about how the whole points system works.

Apparently, the tour will be considering adjustments to the FedEx Cup, which is mighty big of it or so the tour would have you believe. The FedEx Cup was actually saved by some standout play that can now be used as a smoke screen to hide its flaws and allow the tour to pat itself on the back for a job well done.

The self-congratulating may be a little premature and not only because of the problems that arose such as marquee players taking off playoff tournaments, even though it was them who wanted a shorter season. Fall means Halloween and the graveyard we're now in is a direct result of the FedEx Cup.

As much as we complained when the Canadian Open was put behind the British Open, what lies ahead is a group of such events that means weeks of mediocrity from a tour that is supposed to be the highest echelon of golf. No marketing spin can hide that fact.

It might be wise for the tour to seek out the opinions of sponsors and fans in respect to the Fall Series before declaring the FedEx Cup a complete success. The demise of The International isn't that long ago to forget that there is frustration out there about the way the tour treats events that aren't in its upper echelon.

The tour's marketing department has shifted gears and, after force-feeding us the FedEx Cup since the beginning of the year, is now promoting lesser-known players fighting to keep their cards. The spin machine will be in high gear, with no commitment from marquee players for this portion of the schedule.

There's a certain intrigue to watching players scrap with their careers on the line. There's something admirable about passion for the game, especially after the star sulking that went on the past few weeks, and it's that desire that makes watching the Canadian Tour or Nationwide Tour special.

Yet, that's only one aspect of the PGA Tour, which is supposed to present golf at its best. On the heels of Tiger Woods, incredible performance at the Tour Championship a week ago, the sputtering of the new Fall Series is deafening.

If the tour's marketing whizzes want a snazzy name for this part of the schedule, how does Tour Lite sound?

A lot of players at the Turning Stone Resort Championship that concluded yesterday hadn't competed since the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro over a month ago. Even the workhorse himself, Vijay Singh, was absent.

As the Fall Series progresses, you may see more familiar names teeing it up to keep their games sharp or improve their positions on the money list to get a spot in the Masters, but mostly, it will be guys scrapping just to stay on tour.

The schedule has been front end loaded with the blessing of star players, who then whined about having to play four straight weeks in the playoffs. It seemed that there was a big ticket event every week in July and August to the point of overload for both players and fans.

Now, there's nothing, even if the tour tells you something different.

The effect of this schedule-juggling to accommodate the FedEx Cup is similar to expansion in other sports in that this group of tournaments has been extremely watered down. More than ever, sponsors must be questioning themselves about return on investment with these events.

For that reason, the tour should realize that the FedEx Cup didn't end when Tiger Woods hoisted the trophy a week ago.

THE SHORT GAME

Annika Sorenstam and Charlottetown's Lorie Kane will be at Aurora's Magna Golf Club tomorrow for the Scotiabank Women's Charity Challenge. The event is expected to raise $265,000 for various women's charities.


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