FedEx Cup doesn’t de­liver with­out star at­trac­tion

Woods is the key player in event

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Tim Dahlberg

All you re­ally need to know about the sea­son-end­ing, sleepin­duc­ing, mon­ey­mak­ing cli­max to the PGA Tour’s reg­u­lar sea­son is this:

Tiger Woods is so ex­cited about it that he’s skip­ping the first event.

That surely wasn’t what com­mis­sioner Tim Finchem had in mind when he per­suaded a cer­tain ship­ping com­pany to part with $40 mil­lion to spon­sor a play­off-like end­ing to a golf sea­son that nor­mally loses much of its au­di­ence about the same time the NFL and col­lege teams be­gin toss­ing the pigskin around.

FedEx de­liv­ers just about ev­ery­thing overnight. But it couldn’t bring the only real draw in golf to the in­au­gu­ral FedEx Cup event that be­gins Thurs­day at Westch­ester Coun­try Club in New York.

If the peo­ple who run the tour were as smart as they think they are, they would have taken the en­tire $40 mil­lion, put it in an over­sized check with Woods’ name on it, and handed it to him just to show up.

Woods says he’s tired and needs an­other week off. Who can blame him? He’s got a new golf course to de­sign, and a new baby keep­ing him up at night.

More im­por­tantly, last time he checked the cal­en­dar, all the ma­jors had al­ready been played.

That’s the real prob­lem with the FedEx Cup, some­thing no re­lent­less mar­ket­ing cam­paign can change, though you have to credit the PGA Tour and its more than ac­com­mo­dat­ing part­ners at the Golf Chan­nel for try­ing.

This week in New York City there is a gi­ant 12-story bill­board ad­ver­tis­ing the start of the play­offs, and ac­tors walk­ing around in golf clothes to re­mind peo­ple about how im­por­tant it is.

All year long, any­one who has been near a golf broad­cast has been bom­barded with the mes­sage that this is the big­gest thing to hap­pen to golf since Gene Sarazen holed his sec­ond shot on the 15th hole at Au­gusta Na­tional so many years ago.

Never mind the whole thing is hard to un­der­stand, play­ers don’t like much about it ex­cept the money, and that it makes ev­ery tour­na­ment af­ter it this year ir­rel­e­vant. And for­get for a mo­ment it pays the $10 mil­lion first prize in, of all things, an an­nu­ity that can’t be cashed un­til long af­ter Woods loses his hair.

It doesn’t have Tiger in the open­ing field, so it can’t be im­por­tant. Woods skips a lot of John Deere Clas­sics; he’s never blown off the Masters or the U.S. Open.

Woods does plan to play in the other three events af­ter the Bar­clays, though, and the ac­coun­tants and golf geeks who study th­ese things say he can still win the in­au­gu­ral FedEx Cup even with­out win­ning a point this week.

But sup­pose he is still weary from the de­mands of fa­ther­hood, plays poorly, and al­lows some­one else in the top 10 point list such as K.J. Choi or Brandt Snedeker to win? Imag­ine the PGA Tour try­ing to con­vince us that Choi or Snedeker is player of the year, not Woods.

Part of the rea­son for the FedEx Cup was to en­sure that Woods played more of­ten on tour, but he’s ap­proach­ing the bil­lion-dol­lar mark in to­tal earn­ings on and off the course so a prom­ise to pay him $10 mil­lion when he’s bounc­ing kids on his knee isn’t much of a lure. ForWoods, the sea­son ended with the PGA Cham­pi­onship and be­gins again next April with the Masters.

Ev­ery­thing else is merely good prac­tice and a chance to pick up some spare change along the way.

It doesn’t help that the FedEx Cup has be­come an easy tar­get of ridicule, mostly be­cause of the way the tour went about pro­mot­ing it. That has made the whole thing easy pick­ings for those— mostly writ­ers— who see the folly in it all.

The ba­sic con­cept of a play­off to sort things out isn’t all that bad. But the new era in golf the FedEx Cup prom­ises ac­tu­ally came whenWoods turned pro 11 years ago.

He’s the main rea­son there will be a to­tal of $38 mil­lion in prize money at stake over the next four weeks. He’s the rea­son television net­works bought in even when the au­di­ence will be smaller be­cause peo­ple will be watch­ing foot­ball in­stead.

With­out him, the FedEx Cup sim­ply doesn’t de­liver.

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