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Fall Guy
Alan Shipnuck
October 29, 2007
A Comeback by Mike Weir Underscored This Point: There's a Lot of Life in a Season Left for Dead
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October 29, 2007

Fall Guy

A Comeback by Mike Weir Underscored This Point: There's a Lot of Life in a Season Left for Dead

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During the Fall Series everyone has something different to play for. At 65th on the money list after his 27th-place finish in Scottsdale, Ogilvie is motivated to protect his position in the top 70, which confers a spot in next season's limited-field invitationals such as Bay Hill and the Colonial. others players are eyeing the top 30, which brings an exemption to all four of 2008's major championships. "Trying to sneak into Augusta is the only reason I'm here," says McNeill, who stood 59th at week's end.

While the Fall Series is obviously good for the Tour's middle class, it also makes sense for mid-level corporations trying to buy into the Tour, because TV rights fees are about 30% less for these tournaments than for those with network coverage on the weekends. However, this new competitive landscape has come with some uncertainties. The Tour is months behind schedule in releasing its slate of tournaments for 2008, and question marks surrounding the fall are part of the reason. Finchem says there will definitely be seven tournaments in next year's Fall Series, and maybe even an eighth, but where they'll be played is still being finessed. This week's event in Port St. Lucie was supposed to be held in Fresno, Calif., but the proposed host course was never completed. the three brothers who control Fry's Electronics had hoped to play their eponymous tournament at a vanity course they've built in Morgan Hill, Calif., but construction delays and messy local politics led to a one-year deal with Grayhawk. last week various officials from Fry's Electronics, from Fry's electronics, the Tour and the tournament were mum on where the event will be played next season. "Nobody knows," says Ogilvie, who is a clearinghouse for a lot of Tour gossip. "I've heard the Greenbrier, Kiawah, Oklahoma City. the latest rumor is that just this week they signed a two-year deal to keep it here at Grayhawk." (No announcement had been made as SI went to press on Monday.)

Keeping the tournament in Scottsdale would certainly be popular with the many players who live nearby. Aaron Baddeley, Tom Lehman and Billy Mayfair were just three of the accomplished locals with no worries about job security who nonetheless turned out to support the event. Grayhawk is also the key to the continued participation of Mickelson, who despite his missed cut gave the tournament, and the Fall Series, more credibility. Says Finchem, "Here's why phil is important: The Tour brand may be getting stronger, but in today's world the players are the Number 1 asset of the game. phil's showing up is helpful in getting fans to understand this is PGA tour golf. It is important that the fall be recognized as PGA tour golf."

That already seems to be happening. There may even come a day when a reporter will be able to show up at a Fall Series event without being teased by Mickelson.

 

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