Weeks: After packed schedule, FedEx Cup a hobble to finish

Bob Weeks
9/12/2014 9:33:49 AM
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Worn down. Aching back. Sore hips. Mental fatigue.

Sounds more like the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the FedEx Cup playoffs. But to hear the golfers talk, the ridiculous schedule that has been thrust upon those lucky enough to make it all the way to the last PGA Tour event of the year means this will be a hobble to the $8 million purse and the $10 million bonus.

While there won't be much sympathy for guys in slacks vying for millions and millions of dollars, the game is clearly suffering at what's supposed to be its big finale.

"I did take a month off before coming into the stretch," said Jim Furyk, who is among the remaining golfers in the field this week in Atlanta. "So I'm now playing my eighth event in the last nine weeks. I'm definitely a little tired. I'm a little worn down."

Phil Mickelson pulled out of the BMW Championship because he'd had enough and was hoping to send a message to the calendar planners.

And the No. 1 player in the world made a detour on the way home from the BMW in Denver to enjoy the simple things.

"It's amazing what a night in your own bed can do," admitted Rory McIlroy. "I mean, just one night. It's funny, I was standing in the shower on Monday morning in Denver and I was thinking to myself: Why am I going to Atlanta today? So I didn't. I changed and I'm going to go to Florida. I'm going to go home for a day and a half."

The driving range and putting green last week were ghost towns as golfers preserved their energy. That's not much fun for spectators.

How beat up are some of these guys? Consider that Dr. Craig Davies, Canadian chiropractor and trainer to many of the top players on tour has been travelling with a portable hyperbaric chamber, a device that can speed up healing through pressurized oxygen.

This year's schedule compacted the FedEx Cup playoffs into a four-week squeeze, something no one seems to want and is unlikely to happen again. Certainly that was the word from on high from the commissioner.

"Four in a row doesn't really work," Tim Finchem said last week. "So we understand that. We didn't like it this year. We're not going to do it going forward."

But the problem is deeper than just the final four weeks. There is a stretch from the Open Championship through this week where there are two majors, a World Golf Championship event and then four playoff stops.

Somewhere in there are also the RBC Canadian Open and the Wyndham Championship. Those tournaments have found it necessary to sponsor golfers, including Furyk, to get them to tee it up on the field. Pity poor Brandt Snedeker who has sponsorships with both companies meaning a nine-week stretch was possible, although he only made if as far as the second week of the playoffs.

Not only does this schedule hurt the quality of play in these events, but it means that golfers don't play as much before it, saving up their energy for the big run.

There's no easy solution other than cutting back on the total events, which isn't going to happen. Perhaps the playoffs could be three events instead of four, but that's unlikely, especially with millions on the table.

You could create an off-season, longer that is, than the three weeks between the Tour Championship and the Fry's.Com Open, the first stop on the 2014-15 calendar.

For now, it's going to be the last man standing come Sunday afternoon. After that, don't expect to see too many of these guys for a while. Oh wait. . . 12 of them are playing in the Ryder Cup. At least they'll get one week off.

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