Sunday, August 14, 2005

PGA Re-Scheduling and the Texas Open

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how negotiations for the PGA Tour's next television contract might affect the Texas tournaments on the schedule, including the possibility that a tournament (or two) might even be discontinued.

In this morning's San Antonio Express-News, golf writer Richard Oliver has a column (subscription only) on just that topic. The good news is that it appears unlikely that many (or possibly any) tournaments will be canceled. The bad news is that Oliver believes the Texas Open in San Antonio will wind up in an even weaker position than it's in now.

Oliver writes:

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, heading into what is expected to be contentious negotiations for a new television deal, reportedly is considering a
momentous retooling of the circuit schedule that would trim the regular-season
lineup and significantly impact the Texas Open and other stops at the tail end of the calendar.

While the historic Open, which is expected to move to the new Tournament Players Club at San Antonio by 2010, is forecast to live on, by 2007 it may find itself toiling even further in the background.

(...)

The prevailing expectation is that the Tour Championship, held each November, will be shuffled up to September and serve as the unofficial finale to the regular season. What happens to events that currently come afterward, including San Antonio's longstanding date, is part of a whirlwind of conjecture.

(...)

Speculation persists that the Texas Open, like the 84 Lumber Classic, Southern Farm Bureau Classic and other less-hyped events that stretch into October, would become part of a postscript string of tournaments to be televised on cable, available for players fighting for tour cards to earn needed money.

Frankly, I don't see how that scenario differs from the one in which the Texas Open exists today. After all, the Texas Open is already "part of a postscript string of tournaments to be televised on cable" and is populated mostly by "players fighting for tour cards to earn needed money."

After all, the "Fall Finish" events are the stepchildren of the PGA Tour. So many of the biggest names on Tour skip these events already. The Texas Open is further hampered by going head-to-head with the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup every year.

If the worst that happens to the Texas Open is that it is enshrined in a post-Tournament Player Championship wasteland, that's not as bad as it could have been. It already functions in a wasteland.

The important thing is that the tournament survive so that when it moves to the new TPC course (expected in 2010) the Tour will have incentive to improve its standing.

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