By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Two years ago this week, Bill Haas won the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola 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."
By PGATOUR.COM staff
NORTON, Mass. -- While he was at TPC Boston on Tuesday, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions from the media.
Among the subjects he discussed were the new wrap-around PGA TOUR schedule, the global growth of the game and the new partnership between FOX and the USGA. Here are some of the highlights:
On the new wrap-around PGA TOUR season: "I think ending everything at the same point in time has huge advantages for us, where we can give out the FedExCup, send the ballots out to the players to vote on Player of the Year a few hours later, announce that result within a number of days of that, or a week of that, identify the Arnold Palmer Award winner, all of that is going to happen for the first time ever at the same time. So I think that in and of itself is exciting.
"And then I think having a FedExCup points list in development when we get into the holidays, that we do have some real strong promotional opportunities through the holidays through our television partners, and to be able to really start to get that story out before we get into Hawaii is going to pay dividends, too."
On how the game might continue to grow globally: "I think that
it's more like an evolution than a, okay, now we're going to jump over
here and do things a lot differently. And that protects our relationship
with our partners and hopefully means that we're spending the time and
energy to do the right set of things. Looking back, we have made a lot
of progress. And whether it's in team competitions, World Cup, World
Golf Championships, the FedExCup here, the Dubai thing there. There is a
lot of movement and different things. And they've helped create a
situation where we have the biggest fan base globally now than we've
ever had. We're going in the right direction. You also have to keep the
Olympics in focus in terms of how that plays out, from a scheduling
standpoint, how it plays out from elevating the focus on the sport in a
different way. So there's a lot to it. But we're actively talking about
it, and talking to the Tours about it.
On whether another U.S. victory in October might prompt changes in the Presidents Cup: "Well, we're always open to looking at change. And we looked at some changes this time. We think that The Presidents Cup is young. It's gone through a couple of phases competitively, we don't see any reason to make changes right now. But absolutely, we look at this every year. Six months we may change our mind, I don't know. Right now we feel very comfortable where we are."
On speculation that Greg Norman would be the analyst for FOX: "I've talked to Greg a number of times he'd be good at television. I don't think he has the interest in doing it. But I think he would be good at television. I think he's charismatic, he comes across good on the air, he's opinionated. But there are a lot of options out there. But I think he'd be good."
On whether he's concerned about FOX's ability to broadcast golf when it takes over the USGA telecasts in 2015: "Well, it's going to be a work in progress. They've got to build a capability there, working with the USGA, and I'm sure they will. But I don't know if concern is the right word. They're professionals, they do an excellent job in producing the other sports that they have. I'm sure they'll get the talent together to do a good job for the USGA, but it will be interesting to see what happens when that lines out."
All interviews will be streamed live at PGATOUR.COM (all times ET).
Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013
Winner's interview: About 30-45 minutes after tournament's conclusion
By PGATOUR.COM staff
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Some highlights from PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem's news conference on Tuesday:
WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME. The commissioner said that the Hall of Fame board is evaluating whether having the Induction Ceremony the Monday of THE PLAYERS Championship is the best approach. He said the golf interest "is kind of split" when the ceremony is scheduled near a big event. "We're going to look at everything and have more to say about it probably later this year," he said.
Likewise, Finchem said the qualifications and categories will undergo a process review. "I wouldn't sit here and speculate to changing things," he said, "but I would say we're open to changing a number of things and we'll see what develops."
TV VIEWERS' INVOLVEMENT IN RULINGS. The commissioner said he goes "back and forth" on whether it's a good thing that TV viewers can call tournament officials when they see possible rules violations, as was the case with Tiger Woods at the Masters.
"On the one hand, it's a pain," Finchem said. "On the other hand, it's interesting. ... I do think it's good that it's become a matter of a lot of discussion, and I think that's healthy."
$2 BILLION CAMPAIGN. The commissioner said that this Sunday, the TOUR will begin its campaign to reach $2 billion in charitable contributions. He said the TOUR is at $1.86 billion to date and hopes to reach $2 billion by the end of this year or early next year.
"When I say campaign, the money isn't really the story," Finchem said. "It's the people that our tournaments impact, the lives that are changed, the charities that are helped. However, people pay attention to money."
ANCHORED PUTTING. Having announced the TOUR's stance to oppose the proposed anchored putting ban, the commissioner said the TOUR is now simply waiting for the USGA and the R&A to complete their process on whether to move forward with the ban.
"Then we'll turn around and have a conversation with our players and our board about the position we should take at that point," Finchem said. "Until we get there, we're not going to speculate on it."
BLOOD TESTING. The commissioner said the TOUR will continue to evaluate whether to add blood testing to its anti-doping program.
"We find it difficult to assume that whatever advantage EPO provides a PGA TOUR player, which we don't see much of, is worth going through blood transfusions," he said. "However, we're still monitoring it anyway, and we could still go to a blood test for that reason only."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem spent the bulk of his press conference on Wednesday at the Farmers Insurance Open discussing the ban on anchored strokes proposed by the USGA and R&A.
Finchem was in California to attend Tuesday night's mandatory player meeting where Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, talked about the proposed new rule. According to the commissioner, the meeting was the beginning of a process where the TOUR will collect input and with consideration from the policy board, formulate a response.
Here are some highlights of the press conference.
On whether there are scenarios where the TOUR would not adopt the rule: "Technically there is that possibility. However, it certainly wouldn't be our objective. Our objective is to follow the rules and keep the rules together."
On the need to proceed cautiously: "If the governing bodies had said in 1965, like they did after Sam Snead came out and putted croquet style and a week later they changed the rule or whatever it was, if they had said, you know, this isn't consistent with historically the way you swing a club, so we're not going to allow it, nobody would have blinked an eye. ... But 40 years later, and the amount of play there is with that method, amateur and professional, it does affect a lot of people. So it's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings. So consequently, it's a difficult situation.'
On whether the TOUR might implement the ban sooner than the proposed target of 2016: "Once you get past the question of the rule change, there is going to be a rule change; then you get into some of the details. One of which is the timing, and that's certainly a matter of discussion because, here again, on the one hand, if you're presenting the sport, you probably, my view would be to move it quicker, if it's going to happen because it continues to be a distraction if you don't. You have players on television, in front of galleries, playing with a method that has been outlawed, even though the enforcement date is later. That's in and of itself the makings of a distraction. On the other hand, if you're a player who has grown up using that method, your livelihood depends on it, you probably are inclined to not want it to go into effect for a period of time. Here again, the issue is damned if you do, damned if you don't to some extent, so it needs to be thought through carefully."
On whether there is data to suggest anchored strokes provide a competitive advantage: "Virtually every player on the PGA TOUR at some point has spent time with anchoring method. Some of them practice with anchoring method because it helps their stroke. They will tell you, it is a skill in of itself as putting as a whole. It's a different game. We all know there are two games in golf, full swing and putting. That within putting, anchoring, the anchoring method is a skill unto itself. It takes time, energy, effort, over a long period of time to develop that skill. But it doesn't necessarily give you a competitive advantage against the player who isn't using the method."
On potential lawsuits over the ban: "I haven't heard any specifics about any particular player or conceivably, I suppose, a manufacturer filing lawsuit, and I don't really worry about that kind of stuff. Lawsuits come and go and you have to deal with them, and they're painful and expensive, but I just don't know about that. I think we're early in the process though, so, that could change."
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem talks about the FedExCup Playoffs.
All times Eastern.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
11 a.m. -- Jim Furyk (No. 18)
1 p.m. -- 2012 Payne Stewart Award winner revealed
Wednesday, Sept. 19
Tiger Woods (No. 2) – Following morning sponsor breakfast
Rory McIlroy (No. 1) – Following morning sponsor breakfast
10 a.m. – Nick Watney (No. 3)
11:15 a.m. – John Huh (No. 26)
1 p.m. – Luke Donald (No. 15)
2:30 p.m. – PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem
Phil Mickelson (No. 4)
Brandt Snedeker (No. 5)