Amid increasing talk that the PGA Tour is considering the implementation of a points chase for its 2007 schedule that it hopes will grab more attention, commissioner Tim Finchem is about to shed light on it.
According to a report in USA Today on Friday, Finchem plans to unveil "some details" Wednesday at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
A late-summer, high-stakes, playoff run also is being bandied as negotiations for a new television contract heat up in November. The schedule and TV proposal will not be approved until the PGA's policy board meets Nov. 7 at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the newspaper reported.
"There will be just as many rounds of golf in '07 as in '06," Davis Love III, one of four players on the policy board privy to negotiations, told USA Today. "A lot of players think tournaments are going to get canceled. We'll have just as many tournaments, just a different order."
At the heart of a schedule restructuring is the PGA Tour's hope that it can attract viewers who are otherwise absorbed by the NFL and late-season baseball, while bringing together top players such as Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. The stars seldom play the same late-season events.
Citing players and two Tour officials with knowledge of the proposed plan who asked not to be identified because of the upcoming announcement, USA Today reported that some of the changes include:
• A points chase and playoff system. Players would accumulate points during the season and earn their way into series of four tournaments with significantly higher purses in August and September.
• The series will culminate with the Tour Championship, which would move from November to September. Participation in those four events will be based on year-long performance.
• The Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the Barclays Classic near New York, and the Cialis Western Open outside Chicago have been lined up as the three events leading up to the Tour Championship.
• Six or seven tournaments would follow the Tour Championship. Although those events would not be part of the "Chase," they would count toward official money rankings. In other words, players would still have opportunity to improve their money status and earn spots in majors and top invitationals.
"It's going to reward guys that are playing well," Singh was quoted as saying. "The tournaments after the schedule that they've planned out, they're still going to be there. They want some sort of finale."
Even so, player Robert Gamez fears purses and playing opportunities will be lessened.
"I don't think we need to go and do this point system and change the schedule for 1 percent ... of our Tour," Gamez said. "I think that's kind of where we're heading. You've got 1 percent of the Tour that wants to play fewer events, and they don't care about the Disneys and the tournaments at the end of the year that made the Tour what it is."