The Round Table: new spot for Tiger, no spot for JT

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

It was announced last week that Tiger Woods will be joining the PGA Tour Policy Board as a sixth player representative, effectively giving the players a majority. Throughout his career, Tiger has been routinely quiet when it comes to controversial matters both on and off the Tour and at least from a public perception, not terribly involved in the workings of the PGA Tour either. What do you make of Tiger’s decision to join the Policy Board now and how will it effect the upcoming merger talks with the Saudi-controlled Public Investment Fund?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Assuming that Tiger sticks to his negative view of LIV and Greg Norman (who may, in fact, be all but gone from LIV by now), I think Tiger will be a strong voice of anti-appeasement when it comes to “what to do with the players who defected.”   That’s probably the major issue on the table.  In the meantime, my guess is the Saudis will pay a large amount of money to the PGA Tour for all the stress and money they’ve forced the Tour to incur, and for the Tour’s agreement to drop their lawsuit, which would’ve forced the Saudis to open their books and reveal all.  LIV will cease to exist after 2024.  But how will the Tour allow Koepka, Smith, Reed, et al, back onto the circuit, after telling them two years ago they would never be welcomed back?

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I think Tiger and his business team agreed to this very strategically. Where this leads, I’m not sure, but no doubt Tiger was a key for the PGA Tour to get on board and on Board. There will certainly be some heated discussions coming, judging by some of Tiger’s few comments. But, as we’ve seen in the past, money talks.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: It’s about time Tiger took a turn in the political PGA TOUR arena. I’ve spent my life standing up for my causes and beliefs which include serving on dozens of volunteer committees. Inevitably, you support a decision or not based on the information you have at the time. Nothing irked me more than to have a person with influence criticize the outcome because it didn’t suit their wants or because they didn’t have the same facts I had. Tiger has enjoyed a position in the golf world because he is the best player. Many times, his comments are self-serving or at the least serve a limited number of players in the top circle. It will be interesting to see what he says now that he has to represent ALL PGA TOUR members not just the elite. Being fair and acting with integrity when the result imposes hardship or inconvenience on oneself is a difficult task. Perhaps a good place to start would be to make sure the players on the bottom rungs of the ladder are properly heard and looked after.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): While he has been quiet publicly, he’s always had a great impact on any decisions being made by the PGA Tour over his career.  But for him to formally join the Policy Board is big, and may just show how desperate the Tour is at this point in time.  I just wonder why Tiger would get involved at this stage of his career and life.  Is it just him giving back to support the younger generation, or is this his way to guarantee his cut of the “staying loyal” funds?

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The most telling aspect is that the Board now favours the players 6-5. Should have always been this way as the Tour, at least in name, is a members organization. With anti-LIVers Woods and McIlroy on the board and now reading the fine print, it’s a real long shot that Monahan and Co. will be able to convince the Board that the only way to survive is to bathe in the Saudi sport washing money.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): The appointment of a sixth player rep is what’s important here. Not sure Tiger is the right guy as he’s always been pretty much aligned with the Commissioner. From Monahan’s POV, it makes a lot of sense. There’s the appearance of tipping the scales in the player’s favour and giving their idol a spot at the table. Hope I’m wrong but this just seems like the Commissioner shoring up his flank. Tiger’s not aligned with the rank and file on Tour and not likely to do much for them. As for the merger, it’s still all about getting more for those who already have lots and Tiger should be on board with that.

The PGA Tour regular season has come to an end, and unlike previous years when the Top 125 players qualified for the playoffs, this year it’s only 70. Do you think that’s the right number and if not, how many should qualify? 

Deeks: Gee, I wasn’t aware of this change.  Which shows how much interest I have in the PGA Tour’s “end of season”. But to answer your question, good sir, yes, that’s a better number.  Personally, I’d go for a further reduction, to 30 players.

Loughry: Honestly, this may be a good choice in the long run for the Cup race. Traditionally how the Fed-Ex race was designed, players could actually skip the first event, top 70 ensures a high quality field guarantee and presumably a more fair and good finish to the playoffs. This format is cleaner and easier to follow, but players like Thomas will miss the top 70 from time to time (depending on injuries, starts, and performance).

Schurman: The quantity doesn’t matter. How much the standings are affected by points earned year-long as opposed to those earned in the playoffs is the real issue. The TOUR wants to have a playoff season. What they should do is continue everything as it is until the final at East Lake and the top 30. At this point they should play a 72-hole event with no cut, top 30 players only with everyone starting at zero.

Rule: I hadn’t really thought about it but it kind of does make sense.  In other sports, you need to finish high enough in the regular season to make the playoffs.  Why not golf?  But it does take away that Cinderella playoff run opportunity for someone who just snuck into the top 125.  In my mind, 70 is a few too few, but we’ll see how it plays out this year.

Quinn: The number sure looks right when you look at the guys who finished in the 70s. They didn’t deserve another big cheque after the seasons they’ve had. The guys filling out the sheet to 125 definitely didn’t earn it. Other major sports keep diluting their playoffs for a few more gates, but at least golf now has a decent standard that must be met to make the post season.

Mumford: The number is not important. It’s the format that needs fixing. The PGA Tour should be embarrassed to call them playoffs. What they have now is a contrived system to ensure the regular season leaders are still around at the end. Let’s make the playoffs real. Three events, each with a 36-hole cut. All players start even in each event. Total of 70 players qualify. After 36 holes on Friday, 10 players are cut, their season is over. On Sunday, another 10 go home. Any ties at the bottom are settled immediately in extra holes. The same thing happens in the second event and again after 36 holes at East Lake. Players fail to advance! That leaves 20 players in a shootout for the final 36 holes and that shameful boatload of cash. All without those ridiculous handicap strokes!

Leading up to the Wyndham Championship and during the tournament, much was made of Justin Thomas being outside the Top 70 and needing a very strong finish to qualify. Getting equal ink and airtime was whether Captain Zach Johnson should pick Thomas for U.S. Ryder Cup team based on his past Ryder Cup record. Now that Thomas has failed to qualify for the playoffs, should he be a Captain’s pick for the American squad?

Deeks: Why? His play has been close to pathetic for several months.  Why pick a lame horse for the Derby?  Go with Lucas Glover, Zach.

Loughry: There are a lot of other worthy picks in addition to Thomas himself, and some of those picks are on LIV (looks like Koepka is on points, but I’d look at Gooch). If I’m captain, I know its tough and will hurt his feelings but I’d take a pass on Thomas this year. To get Thomas on the team, you have to pass a lot of players (worthy) higher in points, and playing better. It is a Captains pick though, but you’re going to have to explain your reasoning to any players left off in front of him in points. I say he picks him, but I don’t agree with the choice. Good luck Zack.

Schurman: Selecting the players has always been controversial. Either the top 12 points earning players make up the team or the captain chooses the entire 12.

Rule: I don’t think so, he hasn’t shown any form in the last few months and it’s such a sport of momentum.  And having missed the playoffs, he won’t have reps leading into the Ryder Cup.  He may still be picked given his talent and respect from the other players, you know he’ll always fit in. It’s not like giving a controversial Captain’s pick to someone like Patrick Reed or anything.  There are so many great American players and this gives an opportunity for Zach to bring in a young guy in JT’s spot.

Quinn: All that BS about ‘team player’ etc etc  that is bandied about when the Red, White and Blue guys are glorified doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t make a putt. Like everyone else, Thomas has had a couple of years to make the team. He didn’t.

Mumford: The U.S. team has become something of an old boy’s club at the top end as they recycle Love, Couples, Stricker, Johnson and Woods into captain and vice captain roles for their annual team matches. For captain’s picks, they tend to favour players that have performed well for them in the past. The roster looks incredibly strong on paper, so taking a chance on an underperforming Thomas would be true to form for this bunch. He’s apparently Tiger’s best little buddy too. But there are more deserving players that should get the nod.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *