From the Rough

Golf without discretion

PGA Tour players prepared to ‘backtrack’ on ‘designated event’ proposal for 2011

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Well this could get ugly. After coming to an agreement earlier this year on a one-in-four (or five) format that was supposed to be implemented in 2011, it appears that the proposal will be “voluntary” next season.

As Golfweek’s Sean Martin reported yesterday evening, the proposal will be decided upon during meeting on Nov. 15-16. During that time, players from the PGA Tour policy board will come to a final decision on whether or not to add the one-in-four to the mandatory rules for next season. At this point, it doesn’t look promising like a promising addition to next year’s schedule.

“It’s been passed, but I think we’re going to backtrack on it,” Davis Love III, a Policy Board member, said when asked to respond by Golfweek. Mixed reviews from players and tournament officials led to the decision, Love said.

“Designated events” would’ve required the PGA Tour’s top players to play one or two of a handful of pre-determined tournaments that have struggled to attract stars in recent years.

The proposal likely will be voluntary next season, but it might be implemented in 2012 if players do not expand their schedule to support weaker events, sources told Golfweek.

You have to wonder what Tim Finchem is thinking about the possibility of waiting another year for the one-in-four. Even if the policy is voluntary next year, how many players do you really think will try and play an event like (insert your own small tournament) next season? More importantly, how many of those players will be the top 5 or 6 in the OWGR? I’m guessing maybe one or two at the very most.

And given all the talk from players like Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood regarding their decision to not renew their tour cards in 2011, you have to think there’s even less of a chance that the idea is turned into an official policy next season.

Assuming the board does decide to add the policy next year, it could give the tour some much-needed ammo heading into contact talks with the television networks. But the way it’s looking right now, the tour may have to sell the idea for 2012. While a year probably doesn’t make that much of a difference at this point, the tour realizes it needs to go all out next year.

The days of mega-deal television contracts with the PGA Tour are probably gone — given the economy and a waning interest in watching the sport on television — so the idea that lesser-known events could potentially have a few big names in the field each year is something that could keep interest higher than usual during the down periods on the tour’s schedule.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

11/16/2010 at 12:07 pm

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