Finchem says he 'whiffed' by not protesting Ryder Cup change
DORAL, Fla. (AP) PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday he "whiffed" when the PGA of America told him about changes to Ryder Cup qualifying by not protesting that the fall start to the season would not count toward the standings.
The Ryder Cup Task Force, which included five active players among 11 members, decided to only count PGA Tour events that begin next January. It leaves out five tournaments in October and November that kick off the 2015-16 season.
"When we had a communication by way of a conference call on the proposed changes, I thought they were all good. And I think most of them are," Finchem said. "But I kind of whiffed on that one, to be honest with you. I didn't really think through that particular change as it relates to those events."
When the FedEx Cup began in 2007, the fall tournaments were for players to try to finish in the top 125 on the money list to keep their full status. The tour went to a wraparound season in 2013, in part to prevent from losing those events, and they had equal status to the January-August part of the season.
"It's particularly annoying to me that I missed it because we had just been wrestling with this on FedEx Cup points for the last number of years," Finchem said. "We would like to see them included ... because I think it's good for those tournaments. I honestly I don't think it makes any significant difference in the final compilation of the team, either.
"So moving away from that in any particular degree, even though it may not be all that important, it is important," he said. "So we're going to have more conversations about that but we will be speaking out to the PGA on that question."
The fall events awarded Ryder Cup points for the 2014 team. Two winners from the fall of '13 were on the U.S. team Jimmy Walker (Frys.com Open) and Webb Simpson (Las Vegas). Walker won twice more in 2014 and finished No. 4 in the Ryder Cup standings. Simpson was a captain's pick.
Phil Mickelson, who was on the task force, brought attention to the omission last week by saying that counting the money for the last few months of the season "you're giving the bottom half of the tour a three-month head start over ultimately the top guys."
Mickelson for years has argued that the tour shouldn't support the opposite-field events, such as the Puerto Rico Open this week against a World Golf Championship. Finchem said there has always been conflict among players who want to condense the schedule for the best players compared with providing more tournaments for the majority.
"It's not an unusual comment," Finchem said. "I don't happen to agree with it in this particular instance, though."
Mickelson said last week that top players had been competing in majors, world events and FedEx Cup playoffs and needed the fall to rest. But it could lead to a perception that the fall events again are looked upon as second-tier events.
"The Ryder Cup isn't about accommodating everybody," Mickelson said Sunday after his final round at Doral. "The Ryder Cup is trying to be competitive and get the best players in the field, and so when you're trying to identify the best, you can't really accommodate everybody, make everybody happy."
Mickelson said he was not a fan of the wraparound schedule because top players aren't inclined to start their season until later.
"And from the Ryder standpoint, it doesn't make sense to have points assessed on those events when none of the top players are playing or very few," he said. "And maybe the FedEx Cup ought to start looking at that, as well, as maybe that's not the best place to start it out. Maybe we should start it in January like we used to."
Two of those fall events in 2013 Las Vegas and Malaysia had field that were as strong or stronger than five events in January to August. Davis Love III, appointed captain again for the 2016 Ryder Cup, is the host of one of the fall events at Sea Island.