ORLANDO, Fla. -- After a season of utter parity, most of us thought we finally had a grip on the PGA Tour’s wide-open Player of the Year thing.
Not so fast.
Because the tour ain’t so swift.
Last week at the season finale at Disney World, news outlets were told that the tour would be mailing ballots for Player of the Year voting either today or Tuesday, since the money title had been clinched and the last official event had ended.
Well, turns out, there’s official, semi-official, and just plain embarrassing.
On Monday, the tour brass in Ponte Vedra Beach instead elected to wait another two weeks after realizing it had made a scheduling oversight, and will now postpone sending out the ballots until next month.
While that is arguably the most prudent course of action given that the season really isn’t over after all, it certainly raises the question of who’s minding the store, doesn’t it?
The confusion mostly stems from the fact that there are more false endings to the U.S. tour season than on the entire Beatles White Album, and this season, the last event on the ledger left the tour in a red-faced position.
The gaffe apparently was pointed out to the tour by a beat reporter on Monday who noted that because two quasi-official Asian events set for the next two weeks were moved back after Disney on this season’s lineup card, a handful of players still in the mix for top-player and top-rookie honors should be given the opportunity to make a last splash before ballots were mailed. A tour communications official said he could not speak to "the timing or what prompted the change."
So now we get two more weeks of the season that never ends, a full fortnight of more hype, last-ditch Hail Marys and potentially ballot-bending accomplishments. Against fields that are one-half and one-third the size of a regular-season event.
This week’s event in Malaysia and next week’s HSBC Champions event in China are sanctioned by the PGA Tour, but fall into weird classification cracks. The money on the two limited-field cash grabs is unofficial, but the tour last year designated the HSBC as counting as an official tournament victory … if it’s claimed by a member of the PGA Tour.
That means that for entrants like Keegan Bradley, one of seven players tied with a tour-high two wins this season, will get another chance to become the first player to collect a trio of titles. Masters winner Charl Schwartzel is also expected to play, and a victory could mean he gets a few PoY votes, too, or closes in on Bradley for the tour’s top-rookie honors.
Nothing wrong with that – though it should have been noticed and noted before Monday.
Beyond that central point is another concern. Frankly, anybody familiar with the thin attention span of the average tour player won’t find this prediction wildly off-base: The delay in mailing the ballots won’t help world No. 1’s Luke Donald much.
In the minds of many, Donald nailed down the Player of the Year award on Sunday when he shot 30 on the back nine at Disney to win his second U.S. event of the season, clinching the money title as well as two separate trophies for having the season’s best adjusted stroke average.
Based on the recency theory alone – and the fact that Disney World is still echoing with calls of Luuuuuuke -- it’s not a huge stretch to assume that a player with a ballot in hand by mid-week would have been much more likely to recall Donald’s Disney heroics than if the voter is asked to wait 2-3 more weeks to cast a vote.
The earnings title aside, the consensus was that Donald nailed down the PoY award, which was a huge reason he added the Disney tournament to his schedule in the first place.
Now we wait until the HSBC event in China ends on Nov. 6?
The first fake ending came at the FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta in September. You know, the one routinely marketed as the “season-ending playoffs.”
Yeah, except for the four events in the Fall Series.
Oh, and two more in Asia. Note to Ponte Vedrans: When it comes time to order 2012 office supplies from Dunder Mifflin, buy a couple of calendars.
This rant is officially over. Though just to level the field, that notion is subject to further review.