SI Vault
 
Finishing Touch
KEVIN COOK
October 16, 2006
Alas, that rite of autumn, the Tour's Fall Finish, is history
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 16, 2006

Finishing Touch

Alas, that rite of autumn, the Tour's Fall Finish, is history

View CoverRead All Articles

Now that the Ryder Cup--that pomped-up exhibition against a bunch of boozy Euros who beat us because they know the difference between foursomes and four-ball--is over, it's time to focus on the real jewel of the golf season. I'm talking about golf's grand finale, el huevo humongo. The Fall Finish.

The fireworks started on Sept. 4, when Tiger Woods and 10 others racked up the first FFPs (Fall Finish Points) of 2006. From now through the end of the Tour Championship in November, every top 10 finish will mean FFPs for defending Fall guy Carl Pettersson, three-time champ Vijay (Autumn-matic) Singh and other pros, many of whom are at least dimly aware of the program, which pays a $500,000 bonus to the winner, $300,000 for second place and $200,000 for third and is ofcoursesponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Fall Finish lore dates to 2000, when Woods won the first one. Tiger was fired up, all right, but not for the reason you'd think. According to SI.com, "Tiger reached his boiling point last week when he won the Fall Finish program." He was ticked that PricewaterhouseCoopers, a rival of his sponsor American Express, wanted to congratulate him publicly. Since then Tiger has skipped a slew of Fall Finish events, pretending not to care who wins. Thus his Fall Finish lead on Jack Nicklaus is only 1-0.

Who can forget Bob Estes's dominance in 2001, when he clinched the title with a week to spare? On the eve of that year's Tour Championship, sensing his place in history, Estes said, "I get a big check no matter what I shoot."

The Finish has long inspired such memorable utterances. "Our sponsorship of the Fall Finish," PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Dean Kern announced in 2003, "is an exceptional opportunity for us to strengthen business relationships, reach our target audience and provide exciting entertainment for all of those who love golf." Two years later, equally jazzed by the '05 event, Kern showed Singh-like consistency. "Our sponsorship," he said, "is an exceptional opportunity for us to strengthen business relationships, reach our target audience and provide exciting entertainment for all of those who love golf."

As Kern might be the first and second to say, you don't fix something that ain't broke. But that's what the Tour plans to do next year. It will replace the Fall Finish with a NASCAR-style bonus-points playoff called the FedEx Cup Championship Series and a late-season, also-ran circuit that will be known as the Quest for the Card.

Nice going, FedEx. Thanks to you, PricewaterhouseCoopers is looking at a season of lousy business relationships, missing its target audience and providing aid and comfort to those who hate golf.

In hopes of eclipsing the FF, the FedEx Cup will provide a winner's share of $10 million. Nice idea, but by this time next year, with the new two-tier Tour awash in FedEx Cup bonus points and playoff permutations, we may be pining for the turn-of-the-century charm of the Fall Finish.

At least the Players Championship is safe. Not even the radicals of Ponte Vedra Beach would move the fifth major from its hallowed spot in March.

Wait a minute....

Continue Story
1 2