Once NBC decided to stop punching themselves in the genitals and get out of their way, the last 90 minutes of the final round of the Tour Championship was compelling viewing this past Sunday. It didn’t make up for the sheer insanity of most of their coverage, but it helped a bit. I remain skeptical that giving viewers a firehose of commercials does any good, but here we are.
On the one hand, good for the Tour to get rid of this nonsensical point scheme and provide viewers with one winner on Sunday that didn’t require a Rube Goldberg-level diagram. On the other hand, this flighted start where the top seed starts with a 10 shot lead is laughable by any standard. And by laughable, it’s an insult to the idea that the best performance on the day wins. What next? A low net and a low gross winner? Does last place get a set of neoprene iron covers?
While I ‘thought’ I fixed the Tour Championship once already, I guess I didn’t. So I’m going to fix it again. And Jay, please use this format next year. While you’re at it, it’s time to ditch East Lake at least for a few years. Atlanta in late August? Really? Move it around. Put it out for bid (hint- if you go to the West Coast, your odds of thunderstorms shrink, and you get that prime time East Coast finish you otherwise would never get).
Instead of the top 30, we’re going to increase it to the top 32 (top 31 and the highest finisher at the BMW Championship who otherwise didn’t qualify). Think of it as an incentive to push yourself during that final round of the BMW Championship. Rather than give the top seeds a shot advantage, we’re going to borrow from other sports and give the top seeds a second chance (I’m borrowing heavily from the McIntyre Finals system) AND they get to choose their tee time and playing partners for the first four rounds. If they want to go out first on greens that are freshly cut and free of spike marks, they can. So here we go.
Days 1 & 2: Regular 1st/2nd round play (18 holes each day). The top 24 (no ties) make it to the next round. However, none of the top 4 seeds will miss the cut, regardless of how bad they do. They get a second chance if they have a bad round or just don’t have it early on. I’d argue that this is a much more relevant reward for season-long excellence.
Day 3: Regular 3rd round play (18 holes). The top 16 (no ties) make it to the next round. However, the top 2 seeds are guaranteed to make the cut, so the remaining guys are playing for 14 spots. Now you’re really rewarding season-long excellence.
Day 4: Regular 4th round play (18 holes). The top 12 (no ties) make it to the next (final) round. The top seed is guaranteed to make the final round. There’s your reward for being the top seed-being guaranteed to make the final round. No head start, but you’re guaranteed a 1 in 12 shot of winning the Championship.
Day 5: Championship Final round (18 holes). Everyone resets to level par. Low round wins. No resting on your laurels or playing conservative. Go for broke time. Tee times are drawn by lottery. With six twosomes, there’s no good/bad half of the draw. No having guys in the field with no practical chance of winning. 12 guys, one round. With only six tee times, you’re not having to broadcast 8 hours of play. Low score wins. You don’t need an abacus to explain anything. It’s simple, and by resetting everyone, you’re all but guaranteed final round drama (nobody starting with a huge lead and hoping that they fall apart). Your reward is getting to the Championship Final Round, and hopefully being the best player on the day.
Much like a Super Bowl (full credit to the guys at No Laying Up who compared it to a Super Bowl on their recent podcast), or title game. You work all season to get to the Championship Final Round, and you either get it done or not. This would get the casual sports fan to tune in; they understand a Championship Final.
Unlike the last time I fixed the Tour Championship, this time you have the forces of Evil with the Saudi Government getting into the golf business as a mechanism to pretend they’re not monsters. To avoid keeping guys in the fold, as a condition of being in the Tour Championship, players agree not to join LIV for five years. Don’t want to sign? Then you’re ineligible to play in the Tour Championship, and the next ranked player gets in. Bail out, and you pay all prize money back. Pensions for defectors also declared null and void less the player’s actual contributions.
I have no desire to watch LIV, even if it were on TV (which as of this writing it’s not). And I never will.
First prize? $40 million.
To quote Alec Baldwin in ‘Glengarry, Glen Ross’, do I have your attention?
Also, they need to put the Tour Championship out for bid to other venues. Nothing against East Lake (or Atlanta) but move it around. Keep East Lake/Atlanta as part of a ‘rota’ if you want, but throw in a couple West Coast venues into the mix.
Oh, and let the players wear shorts if they want to. Seriously.