PGA Tour to Annoy Top Players With "Designated Tournaments" Proposal
By Stephanie Wei under General

If you’ve bothered to check the PGA Tour leaderboard in the past three weeks, then you’ve noticed that mostly lesser-known players have had a dominating presence at these mini tour stops — which probably doesn’t bode well during an economic downturn when TV and some sponsorship contracts are set to expire in 2012. The PGA Tour’s solution?

Golfweek’s Sean Martin got a hold of the memo sent to players and agents (nice work, Sean!), proposing the Tour Player Advisory Council consider “Designated Tournaments” that would force top-50 players show up for the floundering events. I’m sure the independent contractors will love the idea, especially Tiger.

“Having the players play more events is going to be good for the PGA Tour, period,” said Paul Goydos, a member of the PAC. “The hard thing is figuring out how to do it without pushing too hard. We are independent contractors. That’s a difficult problem to get around.”

The concept that will be presented at the PAC meeting is called “Designated Tournaments,’’ according to a memo sent to players and agents, a copy of which was obtained by Golfweek. When questioned about the initiatives outlined in the memo, Goydos told Golfweek that the concept would involve designating a handful of events each year and mandating that top players play in at least one of those targeted events.

For example, this proposal may mandate that the top 50 players on the PGA Tour money list play at least one of five selected events, likely events that have struggled to attract top-ranked players. The “designated’’ events would change each year.

Improving the strength of field will please the sponsors, which, of course, is important. But as for TV? Unless Tiger is playing well on the weekend, I doubt it’d have a significant impact on the ratings.

As a golf geek, I may find Jason Day to be an interesting guy — and I only caught glimpses of the coverage when it would flash on the TV in the Sybase media room — but the average sports fan has never heard of him nor do they care. A 16-year-old Jordan Spieth playing well and placing T16 basically saved the tournament by creating some real interest. Otherwise, watching Day and Blake Adams dunk shots in the pond on the 72nd hole to battle for the win doesn’t appeal to a wide audience.

Hey, if the PAC decides to pass the Designated Tournament rule, then I’m all for it. I mean, if Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker, Tim Clark and Matt Kuchar playing in five struggling events keeps sponsors happy, then that’s fantastic. But if I’m a player on the PAC, then I’d watch my back — because don’t expect cartwheels from many top-50 players. Even though they should all want to do it because happy sponsors = larger paychecks.