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Week off a momentum killer for PGA

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Most PGA Tour players don't play every week and those at the top of the game rarely play more than two or three weeks in a row.

In 2007, the PGA Tour scheduled the Presidents Cup matches for the week after the Tour Championship. That meant that the 24 players from the Presidents Cup teams would end a stretch in which many of them were playing an intense team event after having played as much as eight times in 11 weeks, and for some, five times in the previous six weeks.

Obviously, golf is not as physically taxing as say football or soccer, but these players were playing five rounds a week, including the pro-ams.

Five rounds in five days is pretty easy for these guys, but do that five times in six weeks in five different cities and it can get tiring.

The travel during the FedEx Cup playoffs isn't horrible as they go from the greater New York City area to Boston, then to the midwest, Chicago the last few years, and finally to Atlanta.

The players banded together after that stretch in 2007 and requested that the PGA Tour put a one-week break in the schedule so they could get a little rest.

Talking the tour into the one-week break was no easy task because the tour does not run the Ryder Cup, which was at the end of the 2008 schedule.

The tour conceded and put a week off during the second weekend of September. The break was a week before the Ryder Cup and two weeks prior to the Tour Championship. That was the last time either the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup was played prior to the Tour Championship.

With the break now a permanent feature in the tour schedule, would the PGA Tour be better served with the break being a different week?

The critics say why stop now since the FedEx Cup playoffs have picked up momentum over the first three weeks, at least fan-wise and television-ratings wise?

Those critics are right, and now some tour players are chiming in too.

"It's tough coming off of a Labor Day finish ... you look at every player out here, nobody looks very happy," Steve Stricker said last Friday at the BMW Championship.

Not only were the 70 players playing on a short week after the scheduled Monday finish for the Deutsche Bank Championship, then they had to go split tees and early times on Saturday of the BMW Championship so that the round could finish before NBC aired the Notre Dame/Michigan football game.

What is the tour to do? The sites, and in some cases, the dates for the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are already locked in for years to come. It seems as though the tour wouldn't want either of those team competitions prior to the Tour Championship again, and therefore is unable to move the off week.

Some players have indicated that the week off would be better served coming after the Deutsche Bank Championship, and its Labor Day finish, so that they don't have the short week.

That is a much better plan. Looking at this year's PGA Tour schedule, the bulk of the top players just finished a stretch of playing five times in six weeks, including the quick turnaround from Boston to Chicago.

Looking forward, some of those same players will be competing back-to-back after this week off at the Tour Championship, then at the Ryder Cup in Wales.

That will make it seven-of-nine weeks which the top players are competing and not just competing at minor events. That stretch includes a World Golf Championship event, a major (PGA Championship), the four FedEx Cup playoff events and the Ryder Cup.

The first six are big-money tournaments that could make or break a players season, and in some cases a career, and the last is a high-pressure team event playing for your country.

The week off is needed on the PGA Tour, maybe more than just the one, but doing it after three of the four FedEx Cup playoff events, halts the momentum the tour has gained since the end of August.

Move the break back a week, and while you're at it throw another week break or two around the schedule to keep the best players fresh for when things count the most, the playoffs and the majors.

GOLF CHANNEL LIGHTENS ANNOUNCERS DUTIES

There might not be any PGA Tour action this weekend, but the tour's developmental circuit -- the Nationwide Tour -- is in action in Boise.

The Boise Open is one of the four original tour events left on the schedule. The Golf Channel is broadcasting the tournament and on Saturday will be attempting an announcer-lite broadcast.

The network is taking a non-traditional view of that day's broadcast. Its plan includes boom microphones for each player in the last four groups. The only dialogue viewers will hear as the player goes into his pre-shot routine will be between the players and their caddies in those groups.

There will be the normal crew of announcers on-site, but they will be doing less talking about each players shots and more interviews. Two on-course reporters will be doing interviews instead of trailing a specific group and giving details on players yardages and club choices.

Don't get your hopes up that this becomes a routine feature during broadcasts. You'll still have to listen to the same loud-mouths critiquing every minute detail of players' swings on network coverage 30-plus weeks a year, but for one week it sure seems like an interesting idea.

MINI-TIDBITS

- For the first time in his career, Tiger Woods had a winless season on the PGA Tour. That could change if he plays, and wins, a Fall Series event, which is doubtful, or if he were to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. That event will count as an official tour win for PGA Tour members only.

- Seems kind of strange, but the most experienced person at the Ryder Cup in three weeks will be Jim Furyk's caddie, Mike "Fluff" Cowan. He has worked for several tour players, including Tiger Woods, and now Furyk. Fluff will be making his 10th Ryder Cup appearance at Celtic Manor.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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