LEMONT, Ill.--Two weeks ago it was Tiger. Last week it was Ernie. This week it's Phil missing one of golf's lucrative "playoffs." Lots of talk here in Chicago about why one of these great players would miss a chance to earn some large piece of $63 million. We'll get letters suggesting that they're spoiled. We already have. We members of the media will stoke that a bit, as demonstrated by this exchange today with Commissioner Tim Finchem, at the BMW Championship.
Q: Did you ever think you'd see the day where you would put up $63 million in prize money over four weeks and guys would be bitching about it?
Finchem: I don't think they're bitching about it. I wouldn't characterize it that way.
Finchem: We've got $28 million in cash and $35 million that's going into players' deferred accounts. I think thats--our job is to take actions and make decisions that are in the best interests of the tour players generally and the fans, and I think that's what we've done in this case. Can it be done differently? When you stand back and look at--you guys are taking a couple comments here, and I understand that, but when you stand back and look at the import of what these comments are about, these, again, are not fundamental questions.
Translation: The thing is OK, but players didn't pay attention when we explained it and now they aren't happy. We may do something about that. In the next two months--Finchem's timeline--some "heavy lifting" (because contracts are in place) may be done to:
a) reschedule next year's events so that they are not four consecutive weeks;
b) reconsider the deferred compensation and possibly replace it with a mix of cash and deferred or all cash, or
c) make sure we have some formal meetings with the players so they can no longer say, as Ernie Els did Wednesday, that "unfortunately, no, they did not express anything to the players. They asked....questions but they didn't come out and say, 'OK, look, this is what we're going to do. What do you think?' It was all about---you know, it wasn't directly asked. . . . "
Q: Including the deferred $10 million first prize?
Els: The $10 million deal was a big deal. I don't think Tiger knew about it. Phil didn't know about it. I didn't know. When we heard about it, we thought, geez, that's unbelievable. It still is, but it's we're going to see that money hopefully 20, 25 years down the line.
Hey, this is golf's version of the Bowl Championship Series, the BCS. It will be debated endlessly, every year, whether it does or it doesn't change. Somebody will always be unhappy. But we're talking about it, aren't we? And as with the BCS, the final result can make all things right. In these four weeks, how many finishes will we get like last week when Phil and Tiger went down to the wire? And who will win that first Cup in Atlanta?