No excitement to this end-of-year muddle

Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 01:00

CADDIE'S ROLE:The FedEx Cup doesn’t have the edge-of-your-seat tension that an event of such financial significance should merit

IS IT just me or does this FedEx Cup leave you a bit underwhelmed?

An event that culminated in Brandt Snedeker winning 10 million greenbacks on Sunday night should be filled with expectation and drama.

I tuned in on Saturday to some of the back-nine play and the only thing that got my attention was that Rory missed a very short birdie putt, Snedeker made yet another long one with his short, jabbie and very effective putting stroke and the placid, almost stone-like Ryan Moore looked like he was going to say something as he missed a missable putt. He never moved his lips in the end.

Who won last year’s FedEx? And the previous year’s? Who cares, apart from them and their caddies of course.

It doesn’t have the edge-of-your-seat tension that an event of such financial significance should merit. Even though the television ratings are up for FedEx viewing in the States, I am struggling to see why.

Golf in America appears to have survived the economic meltdown that has effected Europe so badly. They are playing for more money in the US than they were in boom times; the winner’s cheque in East Lake was over $1.4 million.

On the contrary, it looks like they are grateful to have somewhere to play in Europe. The Spanish events have been desecrated due to their financial difficulties, England has one event on the calendar and we are spending more and more time outside any notional boundaries of Europe to cling onto the idea of a European Tour.

There are six events in South Africa next year, four in the Middle East and numerous planned for Asia. These fill some of the gaping holes in the European schedule.

When we do play in Europe, some of the events are worth not much more than those in the secondary tour in America.

Is it any wonder that Rory is selling his bachelor pad in Co Down?

Why would any golfer who had the choice waste his time circumnavigating the globe, with all the hassle and jet-lag, to ply his trade when he could set himself up in the States and not have a flight of more than four hours to any minimum $5 million event – apart from Hawaii – all year long?

The answer is nobody, particularly if the European appearance money has dried up along with the events and the purses.

If the FedEx with all its loot cannot generate genuine excitement and drama how is a trifling tournament in northern Italy with pocket money for a purse going to get bums on seats?

I suppose what this general disinterest in television golf does is put a premium on the real events of importance; the Majors.

Even a hardened observer like myself looks forward to the exceptional coverage of the British Open Championship each year. As I haven’t attended it in recent years I have come to appreciate how good the television viewing is. It brings you into the venue unlike any other coverage.

As much as I don’t understand the hubris attached to this week’s “greatest golfing spectacle”, the traditional battle between the United States of America and the United States of Europe for possession of Samuel Ryder’s little gold cup at least guarantees tension and genuine drama.

The chance for upsetting outcomes is always greater over 18 holes of matchplay. The odds change dramatically as opposed to the more traditional test of a golfer’s worth over 72 holes of strokeplay.

This is why it is so compelling to those who wouldn’t normally happen upon the golf coverage button on the television. The Ryder Cup is instantly accessible and frequently compelling because of its raw patriotism. Peter Hanson and Nicolas Colsaerts have a genuine chance of beating Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

There is no flag-waving in the FedEx Cup, it is simply about the business of making cash for the individual player.

|The FedEx Cup, with its rich rewards, is making it even more difficult than ever to gain entry at the rudimentary end of any golf tour. This may well be the last year that the Tour School entry system operates in the US. They are changing their access to the main tour exclusively through their secondary tour, the Nationwide, and of course the main tour.

Access to the European Tour is by both the secondary tour and the tour school. But the latter is becoming both too costly and time consuming for aspiring golfers. This has come about largely because of the co-sanctioned nature of so many of the “European” events, whereby the tour school graduates don’t gain access to the money events that they thought success in the tour school was going to afford them.

So Brandt Snedeker changed his life by winning $10million on Sunday night in Atlanta. He and his caddie, Scott, are undoubtedly popular winners. Is this event compelling and will it withstand the test of time and sponsors’ deep pockets?

Rory won two of the four FedEx events and scraped into the top 10 last week but only finished second in the overall standing.

I understand that the winner takes it all but how are we to get engrossed in this strange end-of-year (in September) finale when you cannot really get a grasp of what is unfolding?

Give me an old-fashioned strokeplay event or something completely different but not the FedEx unengaging, end-of-year muddle.

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