Rose is a Rose Either Way

 

Justin Rose won the FedExCup bonus of $10 million on points though his three over par effort on Sunday at the Tour Championship put him in a fourth-place tie for the tournament behind Tiger Woods.

Don’t ask me to explain the points system since not even the players say they are clear about it, but for next year there’s a new plan so presumably we will no longer see Steve Sands and his white board. Fans will get a bit of bonus as well with the Golf Channel hopefully relegating “he controls his own destiny” to wherever inane clichés go.

In 2019 the player with the lowest gross score for the Tour Championship still may not win the FedExCup because the tournament will be a handicap event. The points leader at the end of the playoffs starts the Tour Championship with a score of -10 strokes, second in points with -8 and so on down to those at 26 through 30 who get no handicap adjustment to their score.

If in place this year points leader Bryson DeChambeau with a 19th place score of -1 would have finished at -11. Woods would have deducted two strokes for a -13, second place Billy Horschel four strokes putting him also at -13 and Dustin Johnson who finished in third four shots behind Woods would have used his six-stroke handicap for a three-way tie at -13.

Sounds like a playoff or maybe matching cards like at the member-guest…but wait.

In fact, Rose would both win the tournament and the FedExCup because his fourth-place -6 would be handicap-adjusted by eight shots giving him -14.

Coincidence? I don’t know but trying to keep this all straight made my brain hurt so I didn’t go back to see what would have happened in 2017 when Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship and Justin Thomas the FedExCup.

When I first read the press release describing the new system my reaction was, “A handicap event…really?”

OK, stroke-play I’ll give you two a side, and if I beat you by less than four shots you win. Sounds like the conversation Saturday on the first tee doesn’t it? Well that’s what the FedEx Cup is changing to. We can only look at the bright side and assume this handicap system won’t be as big a pain in the cerebral cortex as the point system.

The PGA Tour wants to finish the year with only one winner not two like Woods and Rose or Schauffele and Thomas. The new plan also had to satisfy the sponsors FedEx and Southern Company by having the best chance to put the top players on display plus make the media happy and of course the fans. The players will show up regardless, but the new plan does bump the FedExCup payout from $25 million to $60 million with $15 million for the winner up from $10 million.

Players will still earn regular season points for determining who gets to the playoffs but at least the contest for the FedExCup and the Tour Championship should be easier to follow. It means however Steve Sands will have to find another job on Tour Championship Sunday.

Olympic Golf – A Big Success…But

Park&Rose_Gold_640x480Olympic golf was a smash hit but will that success help to accomplish the goal of those who believe the inclusion in the XXXI Olympiad summer games could result in significant numbers of people taking up the game? Will the Olympics reverse golf’s decline in participation?

There is no question how much being on the Olympic stage meant to each of the 120 who played. It was an experience of a lifetime and each felt some of the magic of being on the world stage.

Got it. Understand it.

However, the cynic in me doesn’t get how the hoped for mystique surrounding golf returning to the Olympics will somehow solve the steady leakage of players from the game. All that was missing from the Golf Channel’s coverage was the shot of a kilted bagpiper marching over a dune into the mist at sunset playing “Scotland the Brave.”

One of the primary reasons, indeed the biggest reason, the push was made to again have Olympic golf was the worldwide exposure would somehow help “grow the game.” Well, golf is already a worldwide sport with a history of championship play older than the Olympics so if you’re looking to showcase the game an Olympic field of just 60 players is ridiculous.

If its exposure we’re after let’s have the best in the world playing, a Team USA and a Team Great Britain and a Team China competing together not as individuals. Excepting the final round, individual play turned both events into just one more 72-hole march. Hasn’t anyone heard of a two player scramble or alternate shot? Both could be done with the total score counting for four rounds maybe with one round of individual play.

Regardless even if those changes are made we are left with the sobering question. Will any of those who watched Olympic golf, perhaps seeing the game for the first time, take up the game?

It might happen but in any appreciable numbers is inconceivable. One interesting outcome worth watching though is the effect Shanshan Feng winning the Bronze will have in her home country of China where the population is more than four times the U.S.

Developing countries with their large number of non-golfers are said to have a great potential for new players but generally they struggle to feed and house their people. They certainly don’t have the money to create programs for newbies to say nothing of building golf courses. This would seem to make an insurmountable problem for all the “grow the game” folks.

By now we should have figured out people play golf for a variety of motivations stemming from their own character, social needs and culture plus of course that’s assuming they have the time and can afford it.

Golf in the Olympics changes none of those things.

Millions of us golf nuts were thrilled to see the competition and hope in four years it will be even better but thinking that Olympic golf is going to somehow cure the industry’s participation ills is unrealistic. It’s not going to happen.