Originally created 01/18/06

Golf Notes

The World Golf Championships were positioned as the "Big Three" behind the majors when they began in 1999 as a series of tournaments with some of the largest purses for the best players around the world.

Where do they rank with the creation of the FedEx Cup?

That's one question Accenture has for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem as it decides whether to extend its title sponsorship of the Match Play Championship.

The FedEx Cup starts next year, a points race that begins with the season opener, cuts off qualifying a week after the PGA Championship and concludes with the Tour Championship.

"At first glance, it's a concern," said Jim Murphy, global managing director of marketing for Accenture. "You're adding another element in the mix, and this is going to be a yearlong promotion. By definition, the FedEx Cup will be raised in visibility. In doing that, will it move the World Golf Championships down a notch, or interfere with the ambition to be the next layer behind the majors?"

Murphy said he has raised this issue with Finchem, and the tour's response is that the overall upgrade of the schedule will benefit everyone.

"That's still an unknown," Murphy said.

Accenture also has an endorsement contract with Tiger Woods, and markets him effectively.

RYDER CUP change: The points system for the U.S. Ryder Cup was changed in late 2004 to place more emphasis on the year leading up to the matches. In case players forgot, the first two weeks should get their attention.

Vaughn Taylor, of Augusta, was fourth at the Mercedes Championships, which shot him up to seventh in the standings. David Toms won the Sony Open, more than doubled his points and went from sixth to third.

PGA Tour victories, worth 75 points in 2005, are now worth 375 points. The rest of the positions from second through 10th have quadrupled in value this year.

Aside from Woods, who managed to accrue 1,932.5 points last year while winning six times and two majors, no one is safe. Chris DiMarco has been touted as the perfect partner for Phil Mickelson, but he already has fallen to sixth and hasn't won a PGA Tour event since 2002.

Considering the Ryder Cup emphasis on winning, this might be a good year to change that.

BUBBA'S DEBUT: Bubba Watson made an impressive PGA Tour debut at the Sony Open.

He shot 66-65 on the weekend to finish alone in fourth, the best start by a Nationwide Tour graduate since 1991.

Watson also used Waialae as a stage to introduce his power.

And it's something to behold.

His biggest tee shot was 398 yards on the par-4 12th, which left a pitch to the green.

Hank Kuehne owns the PGA Tour record by averaging 321.4 yards in 2003. Scott Hend led the tour in driving distance last year at 318.9 yards.

"John Daly or Hank Kuehne or Scott Hend, I don't think they can hang with me when I'm hitting it," Watson said. "If I hit my best, there's not too many people that can get within shouting distance."


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