Use match play to decide Tour Championship
I agree with Mark Harman (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Aug. 30) that the PGA Tour is making the playoffs concept far too confusing, and that the Tour should reduce the number of players eligible to win a season-long title.
But let's examine another concept, one that would make for better TV but is still based on traditional tournament golf (instead of head starts or naming two winners).
The rank and file aren't going to let the PGA Tour go less than the top 125 in the first playoff event. But the second event field should be reduced to 60 players. The points chart for these first two playoff events should be set so that only a pair of victories gets the player starting at 125 into the Tour Championship. Points also should be set so that one playoff victory is required for any player starting the playoffs outside the top 30 to get to the championship. That makes the season-long points concept more valid.
So, start the playoffs with a 125-player stroke-play event. Then cut to a 60-player stroke-play field for the second event.
From that second playoff tournament, the top 16 players in points qualify for the Tour Championship, with their points-list order used to seed them for match play.
That makes the Tour Championship a win-or-go-home match-play event, with 18-hole matches each day. (By the way, dump the WGC Match Play event, too; round-robin is awful. Focus the Tour’s once-a-year use of match play here.)
Having a small match-play field for the Tour Championship would offer more attention for every player and more TV time for every match. Require all players to wear a microphone during competition so we can hear the strategy and interaction on every shot. Fans would get to know any of the players who aren't already mega-stars. Limit the announcer jabber, and let the players and caddies talk.
Thursday goes from 16 to eight players; Friday, from eight to four; Saturday, four to two. Pay the losers of each match a preset amount and send them home. No anticlimactic losers’ brackets or runners-up matches.
Then on Sunday, the grand finale is an 18-hole match – maybe in primetime, with the final few holes under the lights – with the winner getting 10-times-plus more money than the loser.
And that final-match winner would be crowned the FedEx Cup champion.
Simple. Fair. Exciting. Good TV.
Another option for Tour playoffs
The new rumored PGA Tour playoff plan has very little merit with me. It's similar to the handicap tournaments played at clubs everywhere.
Though these are professionals, any sort of handicapping will bring questions. I like a plan in which the first 125 play four rounds, and each day the field would be cut in half and ties until only the final 25-30 remain. Then, play two rounds the next week, eliminating half again. Reset and play two more, cutting the field in half again. Move to the next week, and whoever emerges after four rounds takes it all. It has a playoff feel.
If you want to reward the top players, take the top five, seed them into a final-cut round and they still have less work to succeed.
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