HOWARD WARD: Match Play Would Make FedEx Fun
OK, it's Thursday afternoon, and I'm staring at another deadline for Sunday's golf page. I'd like to be finished by mid-afternoon for two reasons.
One, I'd like to get finished in time to watch some of the PGA's Tour Championship, or the FedEx Playoff or whatever it is that they call this season-ender. And secondly, I'd like to get finished before this editor-type guy David Sinclair gives me one of his nasty telephone calls.
Actually, David is a pretty nice guy. Good-looking fellow with this great head of black hair. Always smiling, saying nice things. Making me feel good.
If I've got my copy in on time or, preferably, three days ahead of deadline that is. But if it's getting late afternoon on Thursday and Sunday's copy hasn't been safely transferred to his desk computer his dark side emerges.
It goes kind of like this: "Excuse me for bothering you, Howard, but I was wondering maybe if my computer had gone down. Can't seem to find your copy anywhere."
Yeah, well, maybe it's because I haven't written it yet, David. I'm still trying to get used to this new laptop and I may have to ask for a new deadline. Maybe something like Saturday night?
David: "Oh, that's funny. Love your sense of humor. But seriously, I need your column in about three minutes."
Not to worry, David. I'm almost finished. Got it yet? No? Gee, maybe your computer IS down.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to write about this week.
Oh, yeah, the FedEx thingy.
One of my treasured friends is Jay Allred, publisher of a couple of monthly golf tabloids and a guy who does a lot of deep thinking about the game. He dropped me an e-mail last week that pretty much summed up the FedEx Fiasco.
"I've always thought the 'playoffs' would be a flop," Jay wrote. "Where is the drama? Where does it have one warrior staring down another warrior like in every other sport? This is just another way to pay the top players more. Period.
"People love the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup because they are more about pride than money.
"Years ago, I felt the Super Bowl of golf should be something like this: Put up a $5 million or $6 million dollar purse, take the top 32 players from the money list and then play in match play, just like the U.S. Amateur. Winner take all.
"That's right. You lose and you go home with nothing more than your goodie bag. Make the final round 36 holes, and the winner trots home with a C-130 filled with cash. That would be something to see."
As usual, Allred is pretty much on the money. I told you he was a smart guy. He doesn't have Sinclair's hair, but then who does?
I have always felt that any season-ender championship that wanted to be recognized as truly definitive and appealing to golf fans had to involve match play. Almost everyone I know enjoys watching guys go head-to-head. That's why the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup, the President's Cup and the U.S. Amateur Championship are so popular.
Seriously, do you think the U.S. Amateur would be nearly as popular if it had 30 guys playing four rounds of stroke play for the title? Do you think anyone outside of the United States Golf Association office would even remember Danny Lee's name?
OK, I know there are those, especially the TV brass types, who would be worried sick that Tiger Woods would get his clock cleaned in one of the early rounds. That could happen. But no matter who the final two players were, it would constitute high drama.
As for Tiger making the finals, odds are that he would most of the time. After all, he's the best golfer to ever tee it up. But I enjoy watching other players challenge him. In my opinion, he doesn't get enough challenges. I'd love to see him have to survive a few rounds of match play. He did it successfully enough as an amateur.
Yeah, I agree with Jay. Put the top 32 players in match play and watch them squirm. I would divide that huge purse between the semifinalists, though.
Contact Howard Ward at 867-6493 or 690-2211 or by e-mail at
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