ATLANTA — Two years ago this week, Bill Haas won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup, yet the PGA Tour season wasn’t over.
So a month later, Luke Donald and Webb Simpson were dueling it out at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to decide who would win the Arnold Palmer Trophy as the Tour’s leading money winner.
No more. This Sunday for the first time in the FedExCup era, all the statistical postseason awards will be decided — and the ballots for PGA Tour Player of the Year on their way — when the TOUR Championship is over and the winner of the $10 million bonus is revealed.
“So everything comes together for the first time in this FedExCup era at the same time,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said on Tuesday during his annual State of the Tour press briefing. “It allows the fans to get their arms around what a real season means. …
“So we really think that improves things, tidies things up and allows us to promote what a season is and how these players are competing comparatively in a more effective way.”
Here are some of the commissioner’s other thoughts on a wide range of topics raised Tuesday at East Lake.
On how the FedExCup has been accepted by the players: “99.1 percent of the (Playoffs) starts by players that were available to players have been actually utilized. Of the 975 opportunities, 966 have been filled. It’s an indication of the very robust interest, support, and enthusiasm the players have for this competition. And I think, as with the fans, it continues to grow.”
On the debut of the Web.com Tour Finals: “I must say in this first year we’re off to, I think, a very, very solid start. The quality of the golf courses in the finals, the juxtaposition of the 126 to 200 from the PGA Tour against the top 75 off the Web.com Tour money list has, I think, proven to be very interesting to fans. Our galleries have been good at those events, and we’ve gotten good results on television.”
On the surge of young talent on the PGA TOUR: “They are coming up as rookies with a maturity level and a confidence level that is significantly greater, in my view, than 10 or 15 years ago. They were coming up as rookies on average with more athleticism than has been the case in the past. … And the reason for that clearly is that a higher percentage of young men who are good in other sports are gravitating to our sport, and that means on average those that can make it this far have a higher degree of athleticism.
On charity: “This year on the PGA Tour, we will set a record of in excess of $130 million raised. We should reach that $2 billion number right at the end of the year. We haven’t figured out which week we’ll go over that, but it will be an exciting moment. And I would point out that it took 67 years to reach the first billion and 8 years to reach the second billion. We’re moving in the right direction from a growth standpoint.
On evaluating the FedExCup Playoffs points system: “The question is, if you have that much volatility in the first couple of weeks of the playoffs, does it throw that off a little bit? You want the season to mean a lot. So that’s what we’re looking at. It’s just that one thing. I think we’ll bring that to a head most likely, yay or nay, by our board meeting in November, which is in the first two weeks of November. If we’re going to do it for next year.”
On whether the Tour would ever decide to not take calls from fans about potential penalties: “Well, we’ve been talking about it and looking at it over the years. I think twice we’ve actually got pretty serious about it. It’s not just one thing. It’s sort of three or four different ways to look at it starting with one fundamental, which is disqualification reasonable for signing a card wrong when you didn’t intentionally do anything? “Going from there to what’s a reasonable point to accept outside information? Is it better to have some sort of limit on it? If you don’t learn about something before X time. All the other sports close their books a little quicker than we do, so to speak. But there’s two sides to the story. I mean, it’s not an easy argument one way or the other. I think it’s cumbersome and difficult and awkward sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes it’s pretty interesting to the fans. … But we seem to have three or four of these things this year. So we’ll probably be taking another harder look at it after we get done with the season.”