The PGA Tour’s decision to award full FedEx Cup points to Fall Series events was the correct choice. It was the only choice. Sponsors weren’t going to spend millions of dollars for second-class status.
And that’s who this decision was meant to please: sponsors. For players, this decision makes things a little more complicated. The FedEx Cup is now almost a year-round race. Players’ buffet of tournaments just got a bit bigger. But while their options increased, the size of their stomachs did not. Star players, those with the liberty to pick where they appear, will only play so many weeks each year.
The fields of fall events will look similar when this change takes place in 2013. As announced in March, the PGA Tour season will begin in October 2013 with the current Fall Series and conclude in late September 2014 with the Tour Championship. This change is in concurrence with wholesale changes to the PGA Tour’s qualifying structure.
Players who live year-to-year on the PGA Tour are accustomed to a busy fall schedule as they try to keep their card. Now they’ll be playing these events to get an early start on their quest to retain playing privileges.
Star players’ fall appearances will continue to be a bonus, not a regularity. The big names have built consistent schedules that they repeat year after year. They know that the best way to play good golf is to prepare diligently for selected events.
The game’s big names often make a fall appearance or two. There are quality events that time of year, held in areas where Tour players like to congregate: California (Frys.com), Las Vegas (Timberlake), Sea Island (McGladreys) and Orlando (Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals). This rules change may entice top players to add another fall event to their schedule, but it’s doubtful they’ll become regulars at these events. They can’t play every Tour stop.
This change may actually cause us to see fewer big names at fall events. The WGC-HSBC Champions in China will now award the same amount of points as other WGCs (it currently awards zero). This will make it more difficult to pass up. And if going to Asia for one event, why not play two? Many players who take the time to cross the Pacific will also play the PGA Tour’s event in Malaysia, which also will award FedEx Cup points. Players’ two-week commitment to Asia may make them less apt to play in America in the fall.
Only time will tell how this change impacts the fields of fall events. But I’ll bet the impact will be difficult to see.