x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Gimmickry on PGA and European Tour finale has golfers bowled over

Complicated but cash-rich events are livening up the end of season, writes Steve Elling.

The cash-rich bonanza events have helped rookies like Jordan Spieth to dip in for a slice of the big pie in shorter time periods. Michael Dwyer / AP Photo
The cash-rich bonanza events have helped rookies like Jordan Spieth to dip in for a slice of the big pie in shorter time periods. Michael Dwyer / AP Photo
Two weeks ago, shortly after golf's grand-slam season had ended and the year-end cash dashes of the PGA and European tours were poised to begin, a fan reached out to world No?11 Graeme McDowell for some insight.

McDowell, who has three combined wins on the two tours this year, was asked via social media to explain how the US tour's lucre-loaded FedEx Cup system works.

You could almost see the affable Ulsterman smirking.

"In 140 characters? Could be tough," he responded.

We will not bother trying, either, but it iworth affirming that the FedEx and Race to Dubai chases have accomplished the improbable over the past seven years, and made the golf contested during the start of football season relevant.

The FedEx Cup, which offers a US$10 million (Dh36.7m) bonus to the overall winner of a rich, four-tournament stretch, is in its third week, at a new venue outside Chicago. The fact that many, if not most, still find the nuanced play-off format to be convoluted is understandable.

For instance, 21-year-old rookie star Jordan Spieth entered the second of four "play-off" events at ninth on the points table, finished joint fourth in the tournament and dropped to 10th overall.

Details, details. Judged as singular entities, the eight events in the two series promise to deliver the best collective fields of the year over a month-long stretch.

Points arrhythmia aside, the game's top players otherwise would have all but gone into semi-hibernation by now.

The FedEx Cup has been so successful, in fact, that the European Tour co-opted the points-chase idea. In its fifth iteration this season, it has morphed into a culminating, four-event run ending in Dubai in mid-November.

Sound a little familiar?

Another 20 per cent in bonus points is available to those who play at all four stops. It is mimicry of gimmickry, but it will almost certainly work.

The EuroTour can surely use the goose-bump boost, given that three of the past four regular tour events have not featured a single player ranked in the world top 40. Most of their stars are, as you might have surmised, chasing wheelbarrows of cash in the United States.

In an interesting bit of clearly subjective marketing, the European Tour website has begun trumpeting the Race to Dubai as "Golf's Premiere Competition", which is hard to interpret as anything other than a shot across the US bow.

By metres or yards, and via two distinct points systems, the formats will have produced eight well-stocked events with massive purses at a time of year when fans have begun to put their clubs away.

End results, indeed.