Monday, September 29, 2008

Sometime around 4:30 during the last round of the third Fed Ex Cup playoff event (there are four), the announcer said: "If Garcia sinks this putt, Vijay Singh wins the $10 million Fed Ex Cup." I thought I had misheard. How can this be? What about the last tournament in the series?
Vince McMahon is someone who knows what he's doing when it comes to hype. He's the showman who built wrestling into a major league spectator sport, and even though he failed when it came to his football league, he got one thing right -- what he called the "Big Game at the End." The two best teams in the league played for all the glory in a deciding encounter -- at the end. It was hardly a revolutionary concept.
It's just like the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals -- all major league professional sports are set up so [1] the excitement for the fans peaks at the end of the season, [2] the sponsors get maximum exposure for their buck and [3] the TV network that bought the rights makes some cash because both the drama and the ratings are high.
All major sports but the PGA Tour, that is. It's hard to believe that the commish Tim Finchem and his crew didn't catch a design flaw that violated "the Big Game at the End" rule.  Unless he was "Wie-d," Vijay Singh won the cup before the first tee shot of the last leg was even hit. Why design a structure where the last tournament has even a chance to be irrelevant? Sure it paid $10 million to the winner, but it wouldn't have mattered if they gave away a small town in New Jersey. It's like stirring your drink with your nose -- a nice trick, but why?
The Tour could also take a cue from The Donald. Trump has it right in his million-dollar ADT tournament for the LPGA. You take the top 30 scores after three days, and those players advance to the final day, where all scores are wiped away and everyone starts equal. It has some pump to it, and most importantly, it eliminates the possibility of someone winning before the tournament is over.
It's the simple stuff that generates interest. Trump knows the value of a crescendo, whether it's someone being fired or someone winning a million bucks.
Finchem, the accountant, apparently doesn't. Unless you were a golf diehard, why would you watch a four-tournament package with a format so complicated that it could be sold on Wall Street as part of another toxic security package ready for public consumption?
Tims' Whim needs to be more like Trump's Pump. It's pretty basic: The key to fixing the FedEx Cup is to make the Tour Championship the Big Tournament at the End.

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