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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Golf Year Finally Winds Down...?

It's Christmas Eve and it's hard to say we've had anything resembling an off season in the golf world yet. Although some players haven't played much in the last few weeks -- or months, in some cases -- this week is the closest thing to an off season we're going to see this year. The PGA Tour resumes next week with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (2014 January 3).

Like so many of the changes we've seen this year, it's hard to predict what effect this will ultimately have on the tours. Sunday I posted about how globehopping is already affecting the tours. In that post I referred to a post the Constructivist had published. Since then he's posted about how Momoko Ueda has decided to leave the LPGA and focus on the JLPGA and, in a somewhat related post, about how Lydia Ko is leaving the only instructor she's ever had because of distance concerns.

But since the golf tours never really stop anymore, how are players going to deal with it? Think about what the GC commentators said about the former "Fall Series" events becoming the first official events of the new season: More of the good players will have to play them to keep from falling behind in FedExCup points. For the best players -- Tiger, Phil, Adam, etc. -- this isn't a real concern because they play at such a high level at the big events that they'll get plenty of points. Just look at what "semi-retired" Steve Stricker did in the 2013 season if you need proof.

But for the other less-consistent players on the tours, they'll have to play more... or at least feel like they have to.

And you'll also recall that some of the new card members -- the players who used to play these fall events -- couldn't even get into the fields this time. Their status wasn't high enough to unseat those "senior" tour players who wanted to get that head start on the FedExCup. That's a troubling situation that already exists in just the first year of this new wraparound season.

But once you create a worldwide tour that bounces back and forth across the globe, then stretch it out so there's no time to rest, players are going to take time to rest whether the tours like it or not.

I have speculated in past posts that we're going to end up with a de facto world tour, whether it's officially sanctioned or not. This could be what finally creates it -- what actually creates two tours, in fact, whether the official tours like it or not. The big names will play a select few monster events -- majors, WGCs, TPC, and a few invitationals -- while the rest of the rank and file players fill the fields at the "lesser" events. It'll be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming years.

But, at least for the time being, everybody can take this one week off. I wonder how long that will last?

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