View Full Version : Trouble Ahead for the PGA Tour?

04-21-2008, 01:11 PM
Is the PGA Tour headed for trouble? Their ratings are great whenever Tiger plays, but Tiger plays maybe 15 times a year. I'm surprised more Tour stops aren't griping about the same thing. Why put up $6 million or more if you aren't going to get a top-flight field?

EDS may end sponsorship of Byron Nelson Championship

11:04 AM CDT on Monday, April 21, 2008
By BILL NICHOLS / The Dallas Morning News

Players in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC at the Four Seasons Resort and Club will be greeted this week by a rolling landscape fertilized by $10 million in improvements.

But the view is not so pretty to EDS chief executive Ron Rittenmeyer. He sees only one player in the top 10 of the World Golf Ranking in the field No. 10 Adam Scott.

For EDS to remain title sponsor, the PGA Tour needs to help get marquee names back, Mr. Rittenmeyer said. He told Tour commissioner Tim Finchem last week that the tournament needs a date that is more popular with players.

"Our title sponsorship comes to a close in two years, and if he wants us to continue, he's going to have to come to the table and help us," Mr. Rittenmeyer said.

Top players once flocked to the Nelson, primarily out of respect for the legendary player who befriended most of them early in their careers. Past champions include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. In 2005, the field included seven of the world's top 10.

But since EDS came on board in 2003, several factors have eroded the tournament's foundation competition for top players from the new Wachovia Championship, being replaced by the Players Championship and moving ahead three weeks on the schedule.

Even more staggering were Byron Nelson's death in September 2006 and poor course conditions last year. Plano-based D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Group was hired to redesign the TPC. EDS pumps about $6 million into each event.

Ron Rittenmeyer "We kind of got jerked around a bit, and I'm not happy about that," Mr. Rittenmeyer said. "I made it kind of a personal goal of mine to see this course improve. So now we've accomplished the course. The next thing is to accomplish the right dates to field the best set of players. And the PGA Tour has got to help market this to their players."

Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour, said he did not want to address Mr. Rittenmeyer's comments in a public forum.

"But I will say that D.A. Weibring and his player consultants, Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry, did a fantastic job," Mr. Votaw said. "We'll continue to have discussions about the date."

The second week in May was the Nelson's primary spot on the schedule for 25 years. But last year, the Tour moved the Players Championship into the Nelson's spot and moved the Nelson ahead three weeks.

Only 13 of the top 50 players in the World Golf Ranking are playing this week. Many of those absences can be attributed to last year's bumpy greens.

Mr. Rittenmeyer said the Tour's new FedEx Cup reduces the importance of regular events. The season-long format, which debuted last year, includes three playoffs for the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship. Points earned in regular events determine playoff seeding.

"I wasn't happy with the FedEx Cup, and they know that," Mr. Rittenmeyer said. "They did it to get some more excitement, some more money in the game. But we didn't get a vote, and we didn't get to discuss it."

I'd appreciate hearing from the golf aficionados out there.

04-21-2008, 04:03 PM
The Byron Nelson Tournament lost out when the PGA Tour moved The Players Championship to May. At that time, the Tour scheduled The Wachovia Championship for the preceding week. The Nelson was a big draw since players could then play the next week in Ft. Worth in The Colonial. That tourney has also taken a hit. It looks like the legacies of Lord Byron and Ben Hogan lost out to cold hard cash. There have been some definite winners and losers in the new schedule.

There are only so many tournaments a player like Woods can play. Before his knee injury, he was going to play Wachovia, The Players, The Memorial and then the US Open, the same as last year.

I think some of tournaments might fall by the way side if they can't find new sponsors. Some of the smaller tournaments have great local followings. The John Deere (formerly Hardees) tourney in Silvis Illinois, the the US Bank (GMO) in Milwaukee are doing well. Some have switched tours; the former Michelob Tournament in Virginia now hosts an LPGA tour.

04-23-2008, 07:35 AM
I guess EDS got what they wanted from the PGA...paper reported this morning that EDS is going to extend their sponsorship thru 2012.