Finchem getting desperate in promotions
Tim Finchem is quickly coming across as desperate as the guy at the bar at last call, making a decision - through heavy beer goggles - on whom to approach. The PGA Tour commissioner promotes his new NASCAR stolen points Cup race without giving many details, talks about the Tour getting its own TV network, tries to advance the notion he's changing the face of golf ...
Meanwhile, the average golf fan with a remote control stifles a yawn.
Bart Bryant won the Tour Championship this weekend, the event that Finchem envisions will become the Super Bowl of golf by 2007. This news is great for Bryant and the lovers of funky porn mustaches everywhere. Not so great news for Finchem. For when Bart Bryant's running away with your Super Bowl, it suddenly looks like the Hall of Fame exhibition game in Canton, Ohio.
Bryant is a nice enough story, one of those come-from-Q-school, mini-tour and rotator-cuff-surgery-hell inspirationals that our resident hanky man Mark Nessmith would wax poetic over. There's nothing wrong with Bart Bryant winning a big tournament. There is something awfully telling about him running away with a wannabe big tournament.
Can you imagine Bart Bryant ever romping to a six stroke Masters, U.S. Open or British Open win? Heck, can you even picture him collecting such a commanding margin of victory in the second-citizen PGA Championship?
Of course not, because the best players in the world actually care about those events. They gear their seasons for those major moments. Tiger Woods may lose the U.S. Open to Michael Campbell, but the field's never allowing a Michael Campbell to completely run away with a U.S. Open.
Then, there's the Tour Championship (otherwise known as that blur between football game clicks to most Americans). Bryant seemed to feel as much pressure in Finchem's World Series as the St. Louis Cardinals do in May. Even the very top players in the world experience some anxiety shots in battling for a major.
The only contender who appeared at all flummoxed by the Tour Championship was Retief Goosen, who managed to shoot a Sunday 74 on a course as forgiving as a rookie traffic cop faced with a hot blonde. Which only proves that Goosen is done as a major player after his Pinehurst collapse.
Does Finchem really think Tiger Woods is going to hold off on his ridiculous silly-season goatee because he suddenly respects the Tour Championship? Does he truly believe that Phil Mickelson is going to stop protesting pro ams for one more huge paycheck?
The problem with a NASCAR- and NBA-modeled plan is that golf actually has a championship history worth preserving. The PGA Tour's best realize that, even as its commissioner flirts on blindly.
The Renaissance Las Vegas is nearing its first-year anniversary, but appears to be still looking to find itself. The hotel is so to gambling that you can almost hear the bells going off, but you won't find any gaming on the grounds. If you're setting up a convention or meeting, the Renaissance is your place. But if Sin City gambling and adventure is your ultimate goal, there are other locations that may be better.
Aside from the fact that front nine doesn't come back to the clubhouse at the Links Course at Grand National in Opelika, Ala., it really isn't a true links course in any sense of the word. That doesn't mean that this Robert Trent Jones' creation should be skipped over, however. With the Links Course, Jones has designed another gem, and it's one that's an affordable, fun play. Just try and stay out of the rough.
Davis Love III has plenty of important golf tournaments to play in before he hangs them up, but his career as a course designer is already in full swing. Along with brother Mark, Love has put together a pair of big, bold routings at the Preserve at Jordan Lake, near Chapel Hill, and Anderson Creek, outside of Fayetteville, N.C. The Preserve is getting more praise, but both rugged courses are definitely worth a play.