PGA paying for its excesses

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Even in Canada, it's unlikely that hockey fans would tune into a Stanley Cup final in which one team was already up three games to none before the best-of-seven series even got going.

That's pretty much the situation heading into this week's Tour Championship, where tournament organizers must be secretly thinking its previous late autumn spot on the PGA Tour schedule is better than its current status as the grand finale to the FedEx Cup.

Vijay Singh will show up at East Lake in Atlanta and do what he has to do to reach his predictable playoff destiny. This will conclude yet another anti-climactic "post-season" in golf for the second consecutive year since this disastrous concept was hatched into a world where it's the majors that count.

On top of Singh's predetermined destiny is the fact that it will be 18 days between the first tee shot at the Tour Championship and the final putt at the last playoff tournament, the BMW Championship in St. Louis.

Apparently, the tour felt the fans' excitement about the playoffs would easily carry over during a week off and stay fresh through a thrilling Ryder Cup in anticipation of this week's foregone conclusion.

As it was last year, it will be back to the drawing board at tour headquarters and columnists will gleefully pitch their ideas on how to fix this thing.

If the tour uses one of those ideas, and it will be desperate for one, it should pay millions to whoever comes up with the winning idea.

It may be fun for columnists to venture opinions on how to untangle this twisted wreck, but the tour should be left to solve this problem on its own for it is an organization of excess.

Many of the pundits who offered suggestions when the playoffs were first introduced also predicted the problems that exist now.

Since the beginning of August, we will have seen a World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, three playoff events, the Ryder Cup and Tour Championship by the time Sunday rolls around, each trying to generate as much hype as possible, leaving fans overloaded with self-serving superlatives.

It's not as if marquee players, the guys who fans really want to see, have any problem making the playoffs. And last year the stars displayed a shocking apathy toward the post-season when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all took off playoff tournaments and Woods still won.

That sent fans a message. If the game's top names can't get excited, why should they? They may tune in to see the marquee guys playing, but that isn't because of any manufactured playoff format that was made to look even lamer by the excitement of the Ryder Cup, which concluded yesterday at Valhalla.

So, now the end of the season resembles bumper cars, with all of these big-ticket events slamming into one another, while other tournaments have effectively been reduced to second or third-tier status, even if the tour thinks a name such as the Fall Series will hide that fact.

NOT RECESSION PROOF

That ride soon may be over for the tour, which may have more to ponder over the next few years than just fixing its playoffs.

Recession is now a reality in the United States, and the events of last week that clearly illustrated the poor health of renowned financial institutions didn't exactly instill confidence.

We've also seen chinks in the armour of auto giants and other companies. As cost-cutting reaches its pinnacle, could it be that PGA Tour sponsorship is chopped from budgets the way corporate golf has been the past few years? In the corporate world, profits, not putts, are what count.

If that's the case, the schedule will thin out and tournaments such as the Canadian Open, which was dumped on with those dates after the British Open, could benefit with RBC now on board as the title sponsor, even though the tour was willing to let our Open rot had the sponsorship problem not been fixed.

Now that the challenges facing the Open have subsided, let's see what the tour can do with the challenges it faces, many of them caused by its own excesses.


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