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The New PGA

Pro golf unveils the FedExCup, a format that will crown a Tour champion with a four-tournament playoff
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Sopranos, Mar/Apr 2007

(continued from page 2)

It's also hoped that the FedExCup might enliven some tournaments that had gone flat. The Barclays Classic, under a series of sponsorship names, has been a stalwart of the PGA Tour since the early 1960s. The Westchester Country Club, the host of the event, has become a familiar site to television viewers for decades. But in recent years Barclays has been either the tournament right before the U.S. Open or the one following it, and that hasn't been necessarily good for the tournament's field or its image. Now there is hope of resuscitation as it becomes the first of the four playoff tournaments.

"The Barclays people were pretty quick to embrace it," says tournament director Peter Mele. "It distinguishes the event from the average tournament. It had become identified with the U.S. Open and had become overshadowed by it. Now it has its own identity."

It's possible the top seeds in the FedExCup chase might skip the first playoff event to save their energy for the final three, or if they accumulate enough points in the first two playoffs, might skip the third. "All the models we've seen, all the players who want to win the FedExCup, must play all the events to have a chance of winning," says Mele.

Already the interest generated by the possibility of Woods and Mickelson both playing at Westchester has been a winner for the tournament. Mele says hospitality sales are at an all-time high, and that the tournament will finally be able to remove hospitality suites from behind the greens on the last few holes and replace them with bleachers, where thousands of fans can see and cheer, breaking the code of silence of the suite life.

"It's not the same old Barclays as it was for 40-some years," says Mele. "It will feel different and will give the fans a chance to see all these great players close up."

The idea is for the top players banging heads against one another four weeks in a row, an unprecedented situation in the modern era. "We've never had a situation where everybody's played head-to-head four weeks in a row," says Finchem. "We hope that's what happens this year. I think stamina is an important thing in the sport, and if stamina becomes a factor, I don't think that's a bad thing."

Vijay Singh is 44 and stamina is not an issue with him. He showed up at the start of the season looking 20 pounds lighter and 10 years younger. He ran away with the Mercedes-Benz Championship, the first tournament of the season, and made history, of sorts, by earning 4,500 FedExCup points. But only the victory matters to Singh.

"If you play well, you don't have to worry about the FedExCup," says Singh. "That's the bottom line."

Jeff Williams is a Cigar Aficionado contributing editor.


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