Thursday Quicken Loans Semi Live Blog; Finchem Gives Woods Free OWGR Points!

Final Update  I had trouble maintaining interest today.  I quit watching long before Woods started playing well, so I can only guess at how slobbery the coverage go.  I don’t know if it was the hot weather they were playing in — I can’t stand playing in hot weather in my old age — or what, but it was hard for me to pay attention.  I did think it was beautiful there, though, and was it Gannon who gave a mini Civil War lesson?  I found that kind of interesting.  I always hope Woods misses the cut so other player will get more focus on the weekend, but it looks like he might play all four days this week.  If he wins, my question to Van Sickle will look prescient.

Part of my problem today was that I’m sick of seeing Woods so much.  I am beyond being annoyed.  It’s just depressing and sad.  It was good to see Patrick Rodgers so much, though.  A young guy, looking good in a new beard (I think), playing really well.  It’s good to see these long-haired bearded guys like Rodgers and Russell Henley.  Kind of reminds me of the 70’s, though I don’t recall any beards back then.  Anyway, it kinds of a sign of the times.  (Speaking of which, I saw some MMA the other night, and the best fighter, the new star, he didn’t have any tatoos.  Trends last a long time, and then they reverse and it’s hard to believe they ever even happened.)

Last year, I was going to do this thing where I drew a player randomly and then followed him with the focus the media gives to Woods.  I planned to do this all four days of a tournament.  Something came up and pushed that to the back burner, so I never did it.  But the point was going to be that if you draw a player’s name out of a hat and obsess over him, you can make any round sound like a big deal.  That’s what they’ll do with Woods’s round today.  Make it sound like starting poorly, then getting hot, then parring in is the most fascinating round possible.  And that it had never happened before today.

6:10 pm Update  Tiger Woods has gone on a birdie barrage at the Quicken Loans National and turned a +3 into a -3, moving into the top twenty and putting himself into serious contention.  He’s currently playing a par-5, so he could be moving to -4 very soon.

3:40 pm Update  Woods only 11 shots off the lead.  Plentiful camera shots of his every action.  Walking, standing, reacting.  Compelling television.

3:15 pm Update Woods hacking it up again — +2 after three holes — and Golf Channel is showing every shot.

1:45 pm Update  Has Woods canned his current swing coach?  If so, get ready for another round of “Tiger will be back if…”

Play to resume at 2:25 EDT, just in time for GC’s pregame/live coverage.

1:00 pm Update  Weather Delay.  After today, the weather is expected to be fine, and I think today is really just some of those summer popup thunderstorms.  Shouldn’t be too much of a problem unless heavy rain fall on the course.

12:30 pm Update Woods tees off in 30 minutes.  I asked Tiger Tracker about Hero exemption, but was ignored.

12:00 Noon Update  How about this?  Woods plays, accepts any cash earnings (it’s unofficial money, anyway), but forfeits all OWGR points?  That would seem to pretty much solve every problem.

11:30 am Update  Continuing on the topic of the day… Tiger Woods tees off in 1-1/2 hours in this fully-sanctioned PGA event.  It has a Strength of Field of 173.  The past two unsanctioned Hero World Challenge 18-player events had SOFs of 279.

That is pathetic.  Think about it.  Almost none of the top players will support Woods by playing his real event, the Tiger Woods/Quicken Loans National.  They will however show up for the unsanctioned December OWGR points giveaway.  How many top players do you think would show up in December if there were no OWGR points?  No easy cash.  It basically pays and appearance fee in both cash and OWGR points.

By the way, Rory’s Irish Open this year has an SOF of 310, not too far from doubling this week’s event’s SOF.

A reader alerted me to this ESPN article about Tim Finchem giving Tiger Woods an exemption to play in the 18-player Hero World Challenge in December, even though the rules specifically state OWGR points cannot be awarded to such a small-field event unless all participants are in the OWGR top fifty.  Woods is current #266.

To understand just how blatant Finchem’s favoritism, one must understand these tiny-field events are scams even when the top-fifty rule is enforced.  Consider last year’s event awarded 191 points to the competitors; that comes to 10.61 points per player.  Last year, the highest points average for any player entered was 8.1330 (Stenson).  The lowest was 2.9397 (Stricker).

Clearly, the players are risking fewer points than they will, statistically, earn.  It’s like playing a lottery where more is paid out than taken in.  Thank you very much!

But Finchem’s decision regarding Tiger Woods represents a new low.  Tiger Woods’s Average Points is 0.6579.  Last place in the no-cut event awards about 2.4 points.  This year Woods’s current #266 brings no points to the event, but last place will still award at least two points.

See the problem?  Woods could shoot 105 four straight days and yet his Average Points would increase.  It would be mathematically impossible for it to fall.

Think about who gets shafted.  First off, every player not invited to play is shafted, because the nature of these events makes them a points giveaway.  Points are handed out far beyond what is warranted.  But, by giving Woods an exemption, Finchem is giving a big “scr– you” to the top fifty player next in line.  He’s telling a Brooks Koepka or Brandt Snedeker, “Sorry, but you can’t play in this OWGR Points Bonanza Giveaway even though you are ranked #38 in the world because we are letting in #266.

Now, let’s examine the rationalizations.  Ty Votaw (second in command to Finchem), per the ESPN article:

“Given the fact that the Tiger Woods Foundation owns and runs the event, that Tiger hosts the event, that he’s been critical to the success of the Tiger Woods Foundation and he’s won the tournament five times, we felt the request was reasonable,” said Ty Votaw, executive vice president of the PGA Tour. “After consulting with the Official World Golf Ranking people, we approved it.”

First off, this event has survived Tiger’s absence before.  When was that… gee, that’s a tough one.  Oh, that’s right, the year he was too embarrassed by his sex scandal to show his face in public.

I’ll grant the point that, with the Tiger Woods Foundation running the event, it would be rather awkward for Woods not to be there.  Understandable.  But there is an easy solution.  Don’t award OWGR points.  It doesn’t meet the criteria; it’s a no-brainer.

Of course there is a problem with that.  How many top players would be willing to give up a week of their December break to play if they weren’t able to grab fistfuls of OWGR points.

Now, Mark Steinberg (Woods’s manager), also per the ESPN article:

“For all the things Tiger means to the Tour and what he means to his own foundation, I would think this was an easy request to accommodate,” Steinberg said. “I don’t think there is one player on the entire Tour who would remotely have an issue with it. And I think it would be detrimental to the event to give up world ranking points. Tiger is appreciative of it, and he’s of the mindset that down the road he won’t need the exemption.

“This is his event, and he and his father (Earl) created this thing. And this is somebody who was the most dominant player of his generation. No player could have any beef with that for what it means to the game of golf. I honestly thought it was the right thing to do.”

Okay, for the past eighteen years, uttering even the mildest criticism regarding Woods resulted in a golf media sh–storm: players learned not to speak ill of him.  And many players have rather enjoyed the free and easy OWGR points that put them into the WGC events.

Consider Graeme McDowell.  After Woods’s sex scandal broke, his manager expected to see Woods drop out.  He advised Graeme to stay in California, so that he might be a last minute addition when Woods scratched.  So… Woods withdrew; Graeme got in; Graeme won, rose in OWGR rankings; Graeme got into U.S. Open; Graeme won U.S. Open.  I’m a major Graeme McDowell fan, so I’m not slamming him.  But facts are facts.  It’s very likely that Graeme McDowell owes his U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach to the Tiger Woods December Points Giveaway.  Graeme himself has spoken at length about this matter.

So players who get in are obviously not going to complain.  Nor will those hoping to get an exemption (from Woods) to play.  Nor will those who want to avoid the media sh–storm criticism brings (although I sense this is changing; the young guys are growingly dismissive of Woods).

However, don’t think there isn’t a silent majority among the players who are sick and tired of the special treatment Woods gets.  Some have been hoodwinked to believe the “Tiger made us rich” BS, but the truth is starting to come out about that lie as well.  Anyway, I have nothing to gain or lose, so I can speak the truth, even if many players are reluctant to do so.

Steinberg needs to understand this is 2015, and “what Tiger means to the Tour” lacks the cachet it had in 2000.

And then we get Steinberg’s trademarked exaggerated certainty.  Steinberg recently told us in no uncertain terms there was no way Woods was with Amanda Dufner,  yet in 2009, Steinberg told us he knew nothing of Woods’s scores of hookups.  When he says, “I don’t think there is one player on the entire Tour who would remotely have an issue with it,” all you can do is laugh.

Now, I must ask: Why is ESPN the only outlet reporting on this?  Also, this is a topic ready-made for vigorous debate on golf talk shows like… hmmmmm…  Morning Drive, the Pregame Show, Golf Central.  Instead, we’ll get Paige and Charlie arguing about whether you should put sunscreen on at the course or at the hotel.

I’ll take a look at Twitter.  Surely there is criticism amongst the new-breed, Young Lion golf reporters…

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19 Responses to Thursday Quicken Loans Semi Live Blog; Finchem Gives Woods Free OWGR Points!

  1. JoseyWales says:

    If Finchem would sink this low to hand a favor to Woods would he also cover up PED use?

  2. Sports-realist2 says:

    Are we to believe that NO PGA golfer cares about this? Since FREE money and FREE points are at stake, wouldn’t you be mad if you were LEGITIMATELY ranked above a player, yet they got in over you because it’s RIGGED?
    Is Finchem sending all the PGA players Christmas cards with $20 bills in them, saying to ‘play ball’?

    • Sports-realist2 says:

      You notice how all these dumb players have basically towed the company line when asked about Eldrick? Basically saying “yeah we owe alot of our success to him, if it weren’t for him, we’d all be working at Mcdonalds’…..
      Even if the players were that dumb, I can’t believe the players AGENTS wouldn’t want to protect their own players…..Very strange if this isn’t challenged by some players…

  3. Ken says:

    Why should it matter whether or not Woods plays? It’s “his” event, he’s the host. Nicklaus still hosts The Memorial, Palmer Bay Hill. They don’t play. Those events are doing just fine.

    This is compromising the integrity of competition.

  4. Kris says:

    The fact that they started asking in July about a tournament in December proves they thought they were going to have to fight for it. If Tiger had shame and self-awareness he would just host the event and give his spot to someone who has a chance of winning. But no, Tiger thinks he deserves to play because he’s Tiger Woods. He said playing in the Barracuda Championship wasn’t an option purely because he thinks it’s beneath him to play in an opposite field event. Tiger doesn’t understand that his sense of entitlement makes him petty, and begging for exemptions makes him pathetic.

    • Ken says:

      You’d think if he had any integrity or sense of right and wrong, he’d only play if he earned a spot.

      You’re right. He is pathetic. A sponsor managed to drag him to the frys.com later this year, but maybe he should be playing in the regular tour stops that he looks upon with obvious contempt if he wants to earn ranking points.

      • lannyh says:

        He is playing in frys.com as part of a deal with the PGA allowing him to play the Turkish Open two years ago. He has a mercenary reason for playing the frys this year.

        I don’t understand either why he can’t just host. Perhaps Hero would back out as the title sponsor is he didn’t play. This Tiger Woods Era saga is ending in a very ugly fashion. After all the corruptness that went before, it’s hard to be surprised.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        Could you imagine Eldrick just sitting there and not playing, while just watching the other golfers…No neither can I….
        Ofcourse if he didn’t play, he’d be like an ACTUAL sponsor, giving lame interviews, and chuckling with the crowds? We all know how he likes to do that…..
        No, if he weren’t playing, he’d either be, as we all know, playing SOCCER with his PART TIME kids, or with HOARS…..

  5. Sports-realist2 says:

    I’m surprised he’s looking for a new swing coach, because he just has NO time playing all that soccer…
    Who is/was his current swing coach? I thought he was trying to do it all by himself….

  6. Bird says:

    Can’t be Tiger’s or Tiger’s glutes fault. Maybe someone is toying with a voodoo doll.
    Goosen (46) -8, Tiger (39) +2.

  7. Sports-realist2 says:

    I didn’t watch any of the coverage, but I’m guessing this -3 is the best -3 round in the history of golf…..

    • lannyh says:

      Haha, I just did a “final update” and I speculated the same thing. I watched quite a bit the first couple of hours, then lost interest.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        Yeah me too, I’ve had enough of the ‘butt cam’ and the ‘car cam’ and the ‘walk cam’….If I want bad family vacation videos, I can get those out any time….

  8. Jaybird says:

    It’s pretty funny. Not that long ago, Rickie Fowler started showing up in the Quicken Loans “pay a mortgage for a year” promotions and then today he has a hole in one to “pay a mortgage for a year”. That’s some serious marketing!

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