||PGA Tour on right path to making players alter schedule
By Tod Leonard
May 4, 2009, 10:03 a.m.
The Sports Business Journal reported today that the PGA Tour is looking into scenarios in which it would require players to participate in a wider variety of events. The report said the tour may be knocking around a rule similar to the LPGA's, in which golfers have to play in every event on tour at least once every four years.
It would be a great move by the PGA Tour. About time.
The PGA has become a tour of have and have-not events. The ones that get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are extremely successful. The others are less so, to varying degrees. There are 42 scheduled events on the tour this year, including majors, and Woods and Mickelson will play in about half of them. Imagine in the NBA if Kobe Bryant or LeBron James played in only half the games, and chose to sit out entire series in certain cities. What would that do to attendance?
Players on the tour are independent contractors, but they still have bosses. They are the tournament sponsors who put up millions for the purses. Without them, the tour doesn't exist, and in these times, the players should be grateful to any sponsor who stays on board.
There's been a lot of lip service by the players about improving sponsor relations, and maybe they are doing more schmoozing with the corporate types behind the scenes. But unless the big names change their schedule, the impact will be negligable. Coming off his knee surgery, Woods has some excuse, but he's shown no desire to get away from the courses at which he succeeds. Going into this week's Players Championship, there are 17 events in which Woods could have competed. He's played in five of them.
Mickelson has played in nine events this season, one fewer than at this point last year. (He cut out the Arnold Palmer Invitational.)
The players have been strongly opposed to any playing requirements beyong the minimum of 15 per season, but that may be changing as they realize the very existence of some tournaments is at stake.
“It’s gotten some traction,” said Stewart Cink, one of four players on the tour's Policy Board, of tournament-play requirements. “I don’t know if it’s ever going to become a rule or not.”