PGA Tour Fall Series Deserves More Respect

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2010

SAN MARTIN, CA - OCTOBER 17:  Rocco Mediate kisses the trophy after winning the Open at the CordeValle Golf Club on October 17, 2010 in San Martin, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

I’m with Charles Howell III on this issue.  The Fall Series events on the PGA Tour deserve more respect. 

One way to provide it is if The Masters offers an invitation to the winners and if the PGA Tour does what it originally said it would do and award Fed Ex points for the next year for the Fall Series.

“If you win some of these tournaments, you should get in the Masters,” Howell said last week.  “How you can make a decision where if a guy wins a Fall Series event he's not in the Masters? I don't understand that. It's a PGA TOUR event. You look at the field we have this week (at the McGladry). You know, I think sometimes decisions like that are made that aren't the best decisions.”

However, this second class status is a shame for those Fall Series sponsors whose events are not treated the same as pre-Labor Day tournaments in terms of respect for the winners. It slights the players. 

Right now, The Masters invites winners of FedEx Cup events, but since the Fall Series is not in the Fed Ex points, the fall winners are out of The Masters.

Strangely, that was not always the plan.  The PGA Tour changed its original idea on Fed Ex points for the Fall Series.  When the Fed Ex Cup was announced, the Fall Series events were to get points that counted toward the next year.  That idea disappeared in the dark of night.

However, Fall Series money does count on the PGA Tour money list, which is what guarantees players without any other status a place to play. 

When it comes to the Masters, clearly, the PGA Tour talked the Masters into recognizing Fed Ex winners and Fed Ex points.

Don’t say that didn’t happen.

The Chairman of Augusta National GC did not wake up one morning and say over his coffee, “Ah think ah’ll consider Fed Ex winners and points as criteri-ah for next year’s toonamint invitations.”   

And some of the Fall Series events have good fields.  According to several who did some calculations, the strength of the field at the McGladrey Classic, using World Golf Rankings, was better than the Zurich Classic, Valero Texas Open and the Wyndham Championship.

Perhaps one reason the PGA Tour does not want to give “full status” to the Fall Series is that the purses are lower than those during the rest of the year.  It’s hard to believe that providing less for a sponsor’s event is an incentive for the sponsor.  With the climate of sports sponsorship being a little thinner in this economy, it's hard to understand.   

In addition, some of the regular season tournaments went the other direction this year, with lower purses and no sponsors.  Not every tournament pre-Fall Series tournament at the desired $6-7 million level. 

Charles Howell III, who thinks the fall series tournaments are getting the shaft, has played in every Fall Series event except for the Open since the Fed Ex series began in 2007. 

“I really don't know how that invisible asterisk showed up, but it isn't right to the sponsors,”  Howell added about the Fall Series not getting its due. “I think sponsors and people like McGladrey that show up kind of see through that a bit, and it'll go away.” 

He predicts that next year, without the Ryder Cup, the McGladrey event will have an even better field.  However, that may depend on how it falls with the Presidents Cup on the schedule because the Presidents Cup is in Australia.

However, that did not stop Howell from giving his opinion.

"Watch what this field will be next year," he said. "You'll see guys like Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair... a lot of guys who were in the Ryder Cup."

No matter what the 2011 schedule turns out to be, Howell has the right idea.  It’s time to reward the tournaments that are paying the bills for the rank and file members by giving them Fed Ex points and sending their winners to the Masters.