PGA 2006: New Frontiers

By Peter Aviles
Updated: November 17, 2006

NEW JERSEY — The 2006 professional golf season concluded with the completion of “The Tour Championship.” The purpose of this event was to fittingly end the season in an exciting way by having the 30 best professional male golfers “tee off” against one another.

The size of the purse, ($6,500,000) was to serve as an incentive to ensure that the top players would show up and compete. To put it into perspective, this purse was exceeded only by “The Players Championship” ($8,000,000), “The Masters” ($7,000,000) and the “World Golf Championship” (there were a total of three events, each with a purse of $7,500,000).

Well, this may be interesting, but what does this have to do with new frontiers you may ask. The answer is that the tour in 2007 will embark on a new format that culminates in the new FedExCup competition, which is a competition where bonus points are accrued throughout the year, and culminates with “The Tour Championship which now will be in September rather than November.”

Upon completion of “The Tour Championship”, the PGA will have a new four tournament playoff system, similar to playoff systems we see in other sports. The reason for this re-structuring is to inspire the top players to compete against one another more often in the hope that this will add more excitement to the game and translate into an increase in revenues.

After all, despite what is said about having the strongest fields compete each week, in the final analysis as the saying goes, it is all about the money.

Speaking of new frontiers, Tiger Woods is also embarking on a new frontier. By now most know that he skipped “The Tour Championship” because he was preparing to compete in the HSBC Champions Tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

He will then continue his Asian excursion when he competes in the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan. Again, he has competed overseas before and played in China last year.

The one difference is that he has more on his mind than tournament play. Earlier this month it was announced that Tiger is investing $200 million dollars in China as he embarks on his latest venture; building golf courses for all skill levels around the world.

When you consider the latest information on China’s trade surplus, and the fact that General Motors recently initiated sales of four models of Cadillac shows that he is not the only one investing in China.

Vijay Singh has also embarked on a new frontier, one that twenty years ago could not have been part of his consciousness as he lived a peripatetic nomadic lifestyle hustling to make a buck in places like Fiji, his place of birth and Borneo among others.

That new frontier is induction in the World Golf Hall of Fame. This honor occurred October 30 of this year. Vijay was actually elected last year but put off induction because of overseas commitments.

When you review Vijay’s remarkable career, the most astonishing aspect of his journey is how many wins he amassed after 40 years of age. The records show that 17 of his 29 victories came after 40, a point where most are on the downslide of their career.

What is equally remarkable is his relentless work ethic and pursuit of the top spot in golf that he reached when named the number one golfer in the world. Short-lived as it may be, not many can say they were ranked number one in the world, especially in the Tiger Woods era.

Credit Singh for his tenacity and perseverance, and sing (no pun intended) his praises for this rarely attained new frontier.