In a post on Waggle Room today, Mulligan Stu noted that the Michelob Ultra (one of the higher-profile LPGA tournaments and a “winners” event toward qualifying for the ADT Championship) was going head-to-head with the PGA Tour’s Players Championship and suggested that the LPGA should do everything possible to avoid scheduling their premier events opposite one of the men’s premier events. Sounded good to me. So I started looking at it closely and discovered that the LPGA already does a damn good job of avoiding those events.
I started by declaring the PGA Tour’s premier events as the ones which award more than the usual amount of FedEx Cup points (25,000). There are eight "regular season" premier events, starting with the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February and ending with the PGA Championship in early August. The first FedEx Playoff event (The Barclays) is played the last full weekend in August and the final Playoff event (The Tour Championship) is played the last weekend in September. Add in the Ryder Cup and there are thirteen weeks in 2008 that I would assume we should try to avoid. I could get cute and just designate the ones that Tiger Woods plays as being the premier events, but there isn’t any way the LPGA would have enough lead time to dodge them – Tiger doesn’t announce his schedule THAT far in advance. Stu may tell me that several of the 25,000-point events ought to be considered “premier” (the AT&T National, Colonial and the Memorial probably) but if the PGA itself doesn’t consider them special enough to award more points… Besides, you can’t run and hide from the big boys every week.
Guess what? The Michelob Ultra is one of only two LPGA “winners” events which go head-to-head with one of those 13 PGA events. Check out what the ladies are doing each of those 13 weeks:
WGC-Accenture – Fields Open
WGC-Doral – off
Masters – Corona
Players – Michelob Ultra (W)
US Open – off
British Open – State Farm
WGC-Bridgestone – British Open (W)
PGA Championship – off
Barclays – Safeway Classic
Deutsche Bank – off
BMW – off
Ryder Cup - off
Tour Championship – Navistar
Six off-weeks and a lame-duck trip to Mexico – pretty good work there by somebody. I’ll agree with Stu and say that the Michelob should have been flip-flopped with last week’s SemGroup to get away from the Players. The Women’s British Open doesn’t really have an alternative – at least it’s not up against a men’s major and any tweak that would help it would put Evian or the Canadian Open in harm’s way.
Putting together a schedule isn’t as easy as throwing events down onto a calendar – you have to please sponsors, keep the logistics for your players and officials from becoming a nightmare, etc. All things considered, the LPGA seems to have a pretty good handle on it.