It’s hard to take the FedEx Cup seriously when three of the top players skip a week of the so-called playoffs. I don’t recall a baseball team opting out of a round of the postseason. The biggest issue the players have is with the schedule. You shorten the season, and then you want your top players to compete for seven out of eight weeks? Do you think any of us wanted that? No way. The new schedule is too congested. It’s been a nightmare since the British Open. You can only squeeze so much enthusiasm and concentration out of a touring pro. You’ll see even more absenteeism next year unless something changes. Phil and Tiger wanted a shorter season? Be careful what you wish for, guys. They may prefer a longer season after this. It didn’t help that the Boston tournament ended on a Monday, giving players one less day off. If Phil would’ve had Monday off, he might have played in Chicago.
Speaking of Phil, he really slammed the brakes on whatever momentum the FedEx Cup had built up by saying, immediately after his exciting duel with Tiger at the Deutsche Bank, that he might skip the BMW. His press statement (“I don’t mean to disrespect anybody, but…” ) was blather. If he didn’t mean to disrespect anybody, he would’ve kept his mouth shut and simply withdrawn. He came off like a spoiled brat who took his bat and ball and went home. Ask anybody on Tour — Phil is very into Phil.
Paying out in deferred money that you can’t access for years was another big mistake. I know, Phil and Tiger don’t need $10 million now or $10 million later, but given a choice, they’d rather have $10 million now. When Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker a few years back, he didn’t say, “Give me the $5 million in a deferred account — I don’t want it right now.” Collecting your money in 20 years isn’t what most of us want, no matter how much sense it makes financially. We should have the option to take our FedEx Cup bonus in cash.
The money is part of a bigger issue. Ernie Els talked about how policies like the FedEx Cup are shoved down our throats, and he’s exactly right. When we go to players’ meetings, the suits typically say, This is what we decided on — do you have any concerns? It doesn’t matter if we do, they’ve already decided. It’s done. They say we discuss the issues, but that isn’t true. I haven’t been to one meeting where they’ve said, We have three options. Which do you prefer? It’s always: This is what we’ve done, love it or leave it. Five or six years ago the Tour gave each player a laptop and access to a confidential website. Why don’t they let us vote on stuff like the FedEx Cup through the website? Then the membership’s true voice would be heard. We’ve never voted on anything.
We have some good guys — Brian Bateman, Stewart Cink, Harrison Frazar — on the Tour’s Policy Advisory Committee, but how can you expect them to be outspoken when they’re dealing with people on the Policy Board such as Dick Ferris, who ran United Airlines, and Vic Ganzi, the CEO of the Hearst Corporation, guys who are dynamic leaders of multibillion-dollar businesses? No golfer is going to look a captain of industry in the eye and say, “Uh, Dick. You’re full of it.”
Meantime, wasn’t it a brilliant idea to move the Tour Championship from November to September? The bentgrass greens at East Lake are so close to dead after a recent heat wave that this week’s pro-am has been canceled and practice rounds have been restricted. There’s a reason Augusta National closes for the summer. It’ll be a great moment in golf history if the $10Â million bonus is decided by a putt that hits a bare spot and bounces off-line .