From the Rough

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Archive for September 2010

Overnight television ratings paint a grim picture of Tour Championship, FedEx Cup’s future

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Not even spin doctor … I mean, commissioner Tim Finchem could save the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship this time around. After Sunday’s final round ended to a smattering of applause and a less-than-stellar crowd, the tour waited for the overnight television results, something many expected would be down with Tiger Woods no longer in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

But not even Finchem could have imagined the numbers would be this bad. As the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, there was a slight drop-off from this year to last: “The 1.3 overnight Nielsen rating for NBC’s Sunday coverage of Jim Furyk’s victory was down 61 percent from Sunday’s final round last year (3.3 rating), when Mickelson outdueled Woods to win the tournament and Woods seized the FedEx Cup.”

While it’s impossible to compare a Mickelson-Woods duel to any previous event, a 61 percent decline doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the future of the tour’s biggest event. As I mentioned my recent article for Yahoo!’s blog Devil Ball, the tape delay was the first of many mistakes that led to the putrid overnight rating. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/28/2010 at 4:40 pm

PGA’s not-so-Grand Slam loses only “marquee name”; Bermuda’s future could be in doubt

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Earlier this month Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown wondered aloud if Bermuda had a future as the site of the PGA Grand Slam. The event, which used to be a reward for winning one of the four major championships, no longer held the same high profile as in years past.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette, Brown made it clear that Bermuda was putting more than enough money into the event — $1.5 million a year, to be exact — to host the Grand Slam. For that kind of money he didn’t want a couple of one-time major championship winners; he wanted a “marquee name.”

This year’s major championship group was, shall we say, short on “marquee names.” While Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell were all worthy major winners, they lacked the big name status of Masters winner Phil Mickelson.

The first three quickly accepted the invite to play in the event; Mickelson, on the other hand, decided to keep the PGA waiting. Mickelson’s slow roll routine led to an interesting article in The Royal Gazette.

As the Premier told the paper, he was starting to have second thoughts on the financial benefits of Bermuda hosting an event where the marquee names in the field never showed up: “The PGA is working hard to make sure we have a marquee name for this year’s tournament. I would probably have bet my house that we would have had Tiger [Woods] within the four-years and I would have been wrong.

“We are in talks about next year but we are going to wait and see what happens this year. If we don’t get a good deal this year we will have to renegotiate.”

The wait and see approach ended on Monday, as Mickelson declined the invitation to the event, opting to spend time at home and rest after a grueling season. And just like that, the PGA Grand Slam no longer had a “marquee name.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/20/2010 at 5:03 pm

Just another reason why the FedEx Cup is bound to fail

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The one week lull between the BMW Championship and Tour Championship was supposed to give the PGA Tour enough time to build up the final event of the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize for first place.

Instead, the week has given the media even more time to poke holes in the FedEx Cup, an event that’s received a lukewarm response for the third straight year. Whether it’s the points system or the fact that players are forced to play three straight weeks, there’s something about the playoff event that seems to rub everyone the wrong way.

Aside from the obvious problems with the event (not giving the previous winner an exemption into the following years event), there are some less obvious problems that have come up in recent weeks, one of them being the tour’s decision to go up against the NFL for weekend television ratings.

As GolfDigest.com’s John Strege noted, this week’s telecast is starting smack dab in the middle of college and professional football on Saturday and Sunday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/17/2010 at 12:43 pm

Posted in FedEx Cup, Media

Paul Casey still has an outside shot to make European Ryder Cup team

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You could see the pain in Paul Casey’s eyes during the post-round press conference at The Barclays last month. Just minutes removed from his final round, Casey tried his level-best to take the Ryder Cup snub in stride as he approached the podium.

But the emotions he was feeling at the time made it near impossible to hide the frustration on his face. To make matters worse, his playing partner, Padraig Harrington, had already been told that he was going to Wales as one of Colin Montgomerie’s captain’s picks. That turned an already difficult final round into one of most awkward of his life.

When he was asked if it was difficult playing the “last hour or so” with Harrington, Casey didn’t hide his feelings. “Hour or so? It was about two-and-a-half hours,” Casey said. “It was difficult,”

Since then, Casey has tried his best to put the snub in the rear-view. But it hasn’t been easy. Seeing Ryder Cupper Luke Donald on weekly basis hasn’t eased the pain.

But could that pain be erased with only a couple of weeks to go before the Ryder Cup? While Casey isn’t on the team, there’s still an outside shot he could wind up playing in Wales in a couple weeks’ time. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/15/2010 at 10:24 am

Did the media criticize the wrong captain’s pick?

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Rickie Fowler will be under the Ryder Cup microscope for the next couple of weeks whether he likes it or not. The fact that he’s a rookie — on the team, as well as the PGA Tour — and a captain’s pick made it easy for the media to scrutinize the choice more than any other on Tuesday morning.

While everyone has a right to criticize Pavin’s decision, there seems to be a following out there that believes Fowler wasn’t the worst pick of the lot.

As Golf Digest’s John Strege noted on the Local Knowledge blog, Pavin’s decision to include Stewart Cink as one of his four captain’s picks was never questioned during Tuesday’s press conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/09/2010 at 12:47 am

Posted in Ryder Cup, Stewart Cink

Rickie Fowler pick will make Corey Pavin look good when it counts

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Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin knows a thing or two about calculated risks. Three shots down entering the final round of the 1995 U.S. Open, Pavin roared back into contention on Sunday, setting himself up for the shot of his professional golf career.

With a 5-wood in his hand and nursing a one-shot lead, Pavin decided to have a go at the back pin position, foregoing the option of playing it safe and hoping for a meltdown from the players still left on the course. As expected, Pavin flushed the shot, knocking it within a couple of feet to secure his first and only major championship.

It was a shot that epitomized his gutsy nature on the course. While Tuesday’s decision to pick 21-year-old Rickie Fowler over a host of veteran players wasn’t as risky as the shot in ’95, it was still a calculated risk that had many wondering if a young rookie could handle the pressure of not only playing for his country, but playing the event in Europe — a place where crowds are less than hospitable.

“It just came down to feelings. I had a gut feeling about Rickie,” Pavin said. “He has a good Walker Cup record, 7-1. He’s a very good player. There’s a lot of very good players that I had to look at, but that’s the way I went.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

09/07/2010 at 2:17 pm