Thursday, September 8, 2011

Teeing Off: Is it possible that we?re excited about the FedEx Cup?

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today, we begin the FedEx Cup talk with ... excitement?

Busbee: Here we are at the FedEx Cup playoffs, and who's going to win? I have absolutely no idea, and that's exactly what could make this year's version of the playoffs the most worthwhile yet. Let's be honest, the PGA Tour's experiment in creating a "postseason" has drawn wide criticism, some justified, some just flat-out griping because it's something different. But this year, with the field open, there's something really on the line week-to-week, and I gotta confess ... I'm looking forward to it. You?

Bacon: It's strange to say, but I'm actually looking forward to it as well, for exactly those reasons. The year has been a complete toss up, and for some of the postseason accolades, the FedEx Cup will be influential in stamping those.

But, I ask, is this playoff system still working? Do people care, or would they watch these tournaments anyway?

Busbee: I think that the playoff system is the ONLY way to inject interest into a lot of these late-season tournaments beyond the golf hardcores. Football is beginning, and that vacuums up the Saturdays and Sundays of every casual sports fan on the planet. There's a natural progression to the golf season that seems to crest right around the British Open, with the PGA Championship starting the slide toward fall. The playoffs provide a way to at least slow that descent in interest, and if we could have two or three known guys bust out early and challenge for this, we'll have a fine few weeks. In short: putting something more at stake than just a trophy for the Random Insurance Company Classic will always draw at least a measure more interest.

Bacon: But like tennis' U.S. Open, wouldn't it be smarter to start the playoffs directly after the PGA? I mean, give people something to watch BEFORE football? That's always been interesting to me, because it would be good to go from the last major of the year to the playoffs, almost like the end of the regular season draws a lot of interest into Wild Card weekend. Like you said, when NFL/college starts, people stop caring about golf, so why not toss one of your marquee events into the face of sports fans when they still have nothing else to watch?

Busbee: That's a good point. Of course, that would give the PGA the leverage for determining who gets into the playoffs, which wouldn't sit well with the PGA Tour, which has enough frustration with the fact that it doesn't control any of the majors. Schedule-wise, I'm just not sure how to handle it without either compacting the FedEx Cup into fewer events, or just accepting that you're going to run into the NFL/NCAA buzzsaw. If they're going to do it this way, I don't see any other option to what they're already doing: begin promoting this thing in January with the hope that everyone will stick around through September. You?

Bacon: But you're missing two open weeks, with Greensboro not being included in the event (or moved to another time slot) and the bye week between the Duetsche Bank and the BMW (still one of the strangest things on the schedule each year). Why not make it three weeks of great golf, with the grind being part of the playoffs (Aren't playoffs supposed to take a toll on your body?), and the final wrapping up right when football kicks off.

Busbee: I agree: stupid off week. I still think politics would be the reason for the distance, and grousing by the players would be the reason for the off week, but hey ... desperate times. Still, unfortunate scheduling or no, we should be in for some tense moments. And here's hoping we've got two guys on the tee at 18 at East Lake with $10 million on the line. This year, more than ever, it could happen.

All right, you're away. Are you looking forward to the FedEx Cup? Have your say!


Kyle Williams Larry Fitzgerald London Fletcher Long snapper

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