This past weekend, golf had two of its signature events, with the FedEx Cup coming to it’s grand conclusion, and the Solheim Cup finishing up on Labor Day. Of course, golf has a wrap around season, and I think the new season is starting up this week, but who cares, as golf really doesn’t have an off season. The Solheim Cup is the women’s version of the men’s Ryder Cup, and the outcome was the same, as the European Women retained and won the cup. The FedEx Cup is the PGA tour version of the World Series, Super Bowl, and NBA finals. Unfortunately, the PGA Tour doesn’t really understand the concept of playoffs, so they have had many format changes, none of which gives the event a playoff or championship feeling. The Solheim Cup is a much better event, but the media has a hard time understanding, why the Europeans win most of the time, in both events. I will clear that up, at the end of the blog.
Playoffs, in all other sports, are a process of elimination, through head to head competition, which ends by crowning a champion. This concept is totally loss on the PGA tour. They think having 3 stroke play events that eliminate a certain number of players each week, constitutes a playoff. The only way the FedEx Cup finale will ever have a true playoff feel, is to eventually, go to match play. Of course, because of golf’s inferiority complex, in trying to compete against other sports for ratings, the powers to be are petrified of match play. What if there is no star power in the final? What if the final match is a blow out? So what, this is what sports is all about. There have been many lousy Super Bowls, but it is still the most popular sports event in the United States. To help ensure some significance to the long PGA season, and make the finals more fan friendly, here is how I would pare down the field. The top two point getters at the end of the last event, would automatically make it to the final four, of match play. The positions of 3 through 6 would make it to the quarter finals. Then, the next 16 highest point getters, would qualify for the match play final. The finals would be 24 players, not the current 30. On Thursday, those 16 players would play 8 matches in the morning, to get down to 8, and in the afternoon, there would be 4 matches to get down to 4 players remaining. Then on Friday those four player would play the 3 through 6 ranked players with 4 matches in the morning, followed by 2 matches in the afternoon to get down to the 2 players who would meet the 1 and 2 players in the semi-finals on Saturday. The finals would be Sunday with the losers teeing off first to determine 3rd and 4th and then the Championship Match to follow for the 15 million dollar prize. That, PGA Tour, is what is know as a playoff. Get with it.
In the Solheim Cup, the Americans gave it their all, but fell short, as Europe won the cup, again. It was a great show, and there is no need to change anything about either, the Ryder Cup, or the Solheim Cup. The only thing that needs to change, is the US media perception of the European teams. There is always some excuse when the Europeans win. It’s the way they pick their teams, it’s the captain, they like each other more, and the best one, they are use to the format. How is that true? The only reason the Europeans win more Solheim Cups, and Ryder Cups, is that they are simply better players, for what is required. They may not be more use to the format, but they embrace the format, much more than the American team does. I think, overall, they just enjoy playing golf, more than the Americans do. It is as simple as that. The other thing that helps fuel their fire, is that no matter how many Cups they win, they always go into the next Cup as the underdog. Talk about an example of denial. The feeling is always, that there is no way, that the Americans should lose to the Europeans. In the Solheim Cup, Europe has won 4 of the last 6. In the Ryder Cup, Europe has won 7 or the last 9. Even so, in a couple of weeks, the populous will be expecting an easy American win. The simple fact of the matter remains, that the European players are just better, and are better equipped to deal with the pressure of representing their country.