I have always known that the PGA TOUR would eventually become a world tour. It was inevitable. Take a look at the new 2013-2014 TOUR schedule, which used to be called the “Fall Series.” It provided a place where players who needed to gain enough dollars to retain their tour cards while the big boys were taking some time off.
Sure, there are some promotional events like the World Series of Golf, and the Wendy’s 3Tour Challenge, but six of the events will offer FedEx Cup points. Two of the tournaments are off-shore, and one is a World Golf Championships (WGC) event.
It all starts this week at the Frys.com Open in Northern California, and tournaments that were insignificant to fans here in the U.S., all of a sudden have become events that are not only a source for FedEx Cup points, but most will provide, for the first time, an invitation to Augusta next April for a berth in the Masters.
Unlike the National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA), golf is a world-wide sport, and PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem is tapping into this source of revenue to put the PGA in the place it belongs. Top players from around the world want to play on the PGA TOUR because that is where the recognition, and more importantly, the money is.
Besides the Frys.com open, other events offering FedEx points, and Masters invites are the Shriners Open, the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, the WGC-HSBC Champions from Shanghai, the McGladrey Classic, and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba from Mexico.
The WGC-HSBC Championship from Shanghai is the second tournament in the 2012 Race to Dubai playoffs for the European Tour. Making it a FedEx event will spark interest from an American TV audience. Unfortunately, you will have to watch it on tape delay, but that is something golf fans who follow the European Tour, and the LPGA have had to deal with for some time now.
The LPGA has struggled for recognition here in the U.S. when it became Global in nature, but I think it is largely due to the absence of a big super-star from America. They was expecting Michelle Wie to be the super-star, but lost market share because most of the top players on the tour are South Korean.
This won’t happen with the PGA because the PGA has world-wide star power, and active leadership from the elders in the game. Jack Nicklaus is working very hard to open up the Asian market by building, and supporting golf courses in China, South Korea, and the Pacific Rim. This is the where the future of this sport lies.
The PGA can’t compete with the NFL, and MLB here in the U.S. during this time of year, but the remainder of the world could care less about these sports. Commissioner Finchem is making the best of this time in keeping this part of the schedule significant while keeping die-hard golf fans like myself entertained. I think the changes are great!