Phil's already working hard for 2016
SAN FRANCISCO – The news that golf has indeed been rubber-stamped into the Summer Olympics beginning in 2016 resulted in the predictable responses from the usual suspects today at Harding Park.
Phil Mickelson, who always tries to say the politically correct thing, opined as follows: "Everybody is very excited that golf became an Olympic sport and we are working hard on our games so that over the next six years we are able to make the team and represent our country in the Olympics.’’
Stewart Cink’s answer sounded a little more realistic: "It’s great for golf. I don’t know if it will be great for me or not because I’ll be 43 and I might be over the hill by then.’’
For the record, Cink is three years younger than Mickelson. Then again, he’s nowhere near as good a player.
Tiger Woods, whose presence the International Olympic Committee wants badly – to complement the Ovechkins and Federers it already showcases – said, for the umpteenth time, that "it’s great for golf. It’s a perfect fit for the Olympics and I think we are all looking forward to golf getting into the Olympics.’’
Well, how perfect a fit is it? Now that it is in, where does it fit, exactly? Rio had been suggesting an August start to its Games, which makes a 72-hole tournament in the Southern Hemisphere in the thick of the PGA and European Tour season, among other circuits in full swing, a real scheduling problem. Imagine the PGA Championship, the four FedEx Cup "playoffs’’ and the Ryder Cup, already crammed into an eight-week period. Now you throw in a week in Rio? Something’s got to give.
Things can change in six years and Lord knows the PGA Tour changes things around depending which way the wind blows; just look at how this FedEx Cup keeps altering its form as they seek a solution everybody, including the players, can understand. So drastic scheduling changes are required, as commissioner Tim Finchem, speaking here this morning, indicated.
"We know there’s going to be some scheduling challenges and we knew that going in and we have all just agreed to fix it,’’ he said. "So every four years we’ll have to move the schedule around. We’ll start that process for 2016 right away. Certainly in the case of the PGA Tour, we will be negotiating in about a year and a half our television agreements, which will go through 2016 and perhaps beyond. So we have to address that.’’
The format calls for a 60-man and 60-woman field, the top two players from each of 30 countries in the world golf rankings. You can see the problem there. Using today’s standing as an example, the top three in the world are Woods, Mickelson and Steve Stricker. So No. 3 Stricker is out, in favour of the top two rated, say, Brazilians. And there are no Brazilians ranked in the world’s top 500 players, according to Finchem. So there are issues to be ironed out.
But that must be what they mean about growing the game and who knows how the world will look in six years?