PGA's worry: FedEx Cup could tire Ryder Cup players
MEDINAH, Ill. -- The Americans could be worn out when they get to the Ryder Cup two years from now, and PGA of America officials are blaming the new FedEx Cup competition.
The FedEx Cup starts next year and is the PGA Tour's attempt at a playoff system. It's a season-long points race for $10 million, in which top players will be expected to compete in six of the final seven tournaments, ending in mid-September at the Tour Championship.
In 2008, the Ryder Cup will start five days later.
One week, Tiger Woods & Co. will be playing for $10 million. The next week, even more will be at stake playing for their flag.
"We've made it clear to the PGA Tour we are not happy with the scheduling for 2008, that we were not able to achieve a one-week gap between their big Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, which we don't think is good," said Joe Steranka, the PGA of America's chief executive officer.
"We would prefer to have one week between, and I think that's in place for the subsequent years," he said. "How players react to the new PGA Tour schedule remains to be seen, we're going to watch it. If it has an impact on the Ryder Cup that we think we need to address further, we'll address it."
There might not be anything the PGA of America can do.
PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs attributed the timing to NBC Sports, which televises the final three tournaments of the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup. He said the tour was able to negotiate a one-week gap between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup in five out of the six years, the exception being 2008.
"We agree there needs to be at least a week break," Combs said. "It really was an NBC television issue that could not be resolved. I believe everything is locked up from a television perspective."
Steranka was clearly annoyed, however, choosing his words carefully when he spoke of the goodwill between both organizations.
"That's not the spirit of the relationship," he said. "We don't agree on everything. But this is one thing they felt couldn't change, and we felt it needed to change."
PGA president Roger Warren said the '08 Ryder Cup was locked into Sept. 19-21 dates.
"We're concerned about the impact it might have on the players," he said.
Still, no one is sure how the FedEx Cup will unfold. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has said players likely will have to play the final four weeks to have any chance of winning the $10 million prize, although it's mathematically possible that Woods, Mickelson or another hot player could skip a week and still win the cup.
As much money as the players already make, some might even skip events to have their game ready for the Ryder Cup, which is on the same scale of a major championship.
Asked what he thought about the situation, U.S. captain Tom Lehman said "I want no part of this conversation."
"It's not optimal," he eventually said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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