PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and Ernie Els will be among the people honored by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at its 60th annual National Awards Dinner on June 7.
Finchem will receive the MGWA's highest honor, the Gold Tee Award, for his leadership and service to the game of golf. Others who have received the award include Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Patty Berg, Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Bob Hope and President Gerald R. Ford.
Finchem, who has been the commissioner since 1994, is credited with expanding the earning opportunities for PGA TOUR players both domestically and internationally. He also has been instrumental in the formation of the International Federation of PGA Tours and the World Golf Foundation’s First Tee initiative.
While Finchem oversees the creation of outstanding playing and earning opportunities for its members, he is especially proud of the TOUR’s charitable contributions of more than $1.6 billion.
Els will receive the Winnie Palmer Award, for his foundation work on behalf of autism. CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz will receive the Lincoln Werden Golf Journalism Award while the Donald Trump Family has been named the Family of the Year; Metropolis Country Club, Club of the Year; Nationwide Insurance, the Bing Crosby Tournament Sponsor Award and Mary Bea Porter-King, Distinguished Service Award.
Proceeds from the dinner are distributed to the Metropolitan (New York) area caddie scholarship programs and the MGA Foundation. More than $1.1 million has been raised over the years for the association’s charitable endeavors.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Count PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem among those concerned by the recent spate of disqualifications that have happened the day after TV viewers reported rules violations.
In each case, the violation was inadvertent -- Camilo Villegas brushing away a piece of dirt as his ball rolled back down the slope beside the green; Padraig Harrington's ball moving so slightly after he picked up his marker that the infraction was only visible on high-definition TV.
The violations were reported after the broadcast and in each case, the player was disqualified from the tournament. But did this ultimate penalty fit the crime? Had the rules violation been uncovered before the player signed his scorecard, it would have been a two-shot penalty.
Finchem said Tuesday at the Farmers Insurance Open that he would like to see a thorough discussion of the issue as it relates to the penalty with golf's governing bodies, the USGA and Royal & Ancient.
The commissioner said that the TOUR raised the issue with the USGA several years ago and has rearticulated its concern in light of recent events. He said he's spoken to representatives of the European Tour several times over the last few weeks and they feel similarly.
Finchem said he is meeting with the USGA Executive Committee next week.
"I hope to have a conversation with them at that point in time, and I would hope that we could have a global conversation about the rule and certainly the penalty that is attached to it, because it obviously troubles a lot of people in terms of how it shakes out from time to time,' he said.
What worries him the most is the severity of the penalty. Harrington was one shot off the lead after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship but was DQ’ed when the infraction was brought to his attention prior to his tee time in the second round.
"I think the suggestion has been made in the past that perhaps it would be adequate to have an additional two-shot penalty to a player who had no knowledge that he violated a rule, and the tournament was over or the round was over, the scorecard was signed, and he is disqualified,” Finchem said.
"But there are other variations. I just think that there's a lot of discomfort with this whole situation and questions raised. I don't want to assume what our position would be on any piece of it. All I'm saying at this point is we ought to have an intelligent, thorough discussion of what we have today and what options might be available to us." – Helen Ross
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- No changes were made to the FedExCup points structure for 2011, but PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday that the TOUR will keep a close watch on how the points unfold this year, especially in terms of players making big moves in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup without benefit of winning a tournament during the year.
"The question raised by some players and others that while you want the full season to have a real impact on who gets to Atlanta and where the seeds are going into Atlanta, at the same time, there's too much volatility and somebody can come from pretty far back and scoot way up into that list without winning," Finchem said.
"So we did look at that and we looked at it carefully. But ... we felt like across the board, there clearly was a recognition that play early meant a lot late, regardless of what happened late. There were a number of examples of that."
The commissioner cited Tiger Woods as an example, saying that if the world's top-ranked player had played his normal number of events in 2010, he would have advanced to East Lake. Instead, Woods made nine starts in the regular season and failed to post a top-10 finish in any of the first three Playoffs events, leaving him outside of the top 30 who advanced to THE TOUR Championship.
Finchem said the TOUR did not want to react so quickly with another points adjustment in this, the fourth year of the FedExCup.
"I do think it's an issue that clearly deserves watching," he said. "And then the other side of it, smaller reason, but a reason, was that, again, we just felt like we wanted a solid continuity to continue to get more fans involved in the process without a distraction of explaining a change. So that weighed into that discussion a little bit.
"But it's certainly an open question and it's certainly something we are going to watch carefully as we go this year. ... So we just want to build on that this year, and then these kind of questions we'll keep an eye on and maybe make a change for the future."
Other highlights of the commissioner's new conference Wednesday:
THOUGHTS ON THE EUROPEAN TOUR: "This recent focus on three or four players, particularly as it relates to Europe, does not cause us concern. I mean, we see the need for these players to support the Tour in Europe. We feel like a strong European Tour is in everybody's interest, in our interests. The European Tour has been under a lot of pressure, and we didn't help their cause when we moved THE PLAYERS to May and when we created the FedExCup with the Playoffs.
"What that did was it put significant pressure on their early summer and late summer schedule, when any player or most players who are dual members are going to play more here in the early summer because of THE PLAYERS and then again late in the summer.
"So the fact that they have worked hard to encourage their players to play more and changed their rules as it relates to The Ryder Cup for that reason, is understandable, and we don't complain about that. We think that those steps are reasonable, and we support players playing more over there, even though it might cost us some starts over here. We feel like we are strong enough and we like the balance of international players.
"And you can make an argument, candidly, long term that it's in our interests that we keep that balance; that we not be a TOUR populated 90 percent by players outside the U.S. We need to appeal to the market in the United States, and it's a good balance. It's a balance that allows us to be very successful in the United States and at the same time be very successful in distributing our television product around the globe."
RICKIE FOWLER BEATING OUR RORY McILROY FOR 2010 ROOKIE OF
THE YEAR: "I'm not going to again speak for the players,
but how much emphasis do you put on winning a tournament and how
much emphasis do you put on season long consistent performance, and
to some extent, the support of the TOUR?
"In this case, Rickie was ahead of Rory on the Money List and he was ahead of him on the FedExCup points. He didn't win but he had a consistent year, and he played more events.
"Some players would say yeah, but winning is everything, I vote for the guy who won. Other guys will say, I'm compelled by this. And I suppose, based on what you all have written -- I haven't heard a player say this, but I've read that some players just question the criteria of designating Rory a rookie, which I suppose might have affected some votes.
"But you know, I don't think it's an unreasonable determination either way you go." – Mike McAllister