Rory McIlroy’s resounding victory at the 2012 PGA Championship is disappearing into the golfing world’s collective rearview mirror. It’s fitting, then, to turn an eye to the remainder of the PGA Tour calendar and seek out the best stuff on tap for the rest of the golfing year.
The tournaments with the best venues and strength of field are, of course, those of the FedEx Cup. While these may not be the most entertaining events, the “made-for-TV” tournaments—Grand Slam of Golf, the Chevron Challenge and the Franklin Templeton Shootout—are guaranteed to be entertaining exhibitions.
There is also this year’s second spectacle of triumphant nationalism in sport: the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah at the end of September. From the Gala to the closing ceremonies, the Cup will be a display of an entirely different caliber.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs
When the FedEx Cup was conceived in 2005, a lot of golf fans felt it was an unnecessary gimmick to try to breathe life into the post-PGA Championship calendar. However, five years after the inaugural Cup was raised by Tiger Woods, the series is well regarded by both players and fans alike.
This year, the four tournaments begin August 23 starting with The Barclays at Bethpage Black followed by the Duetsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Rounding out the playoffs, the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick precedes the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are paired together for the first two rounds of the Barclays, which should make for compelling television. Now that any of the 30 competitors in the Tour Championship have a chance at winning the Cup with a victory in the event, the drama should go right down to the wire at the final event.
Plus, on Sunday at the Tour Championship, someone will have the opportunity to make a putt for $10 million. What could be more engaging than that? If you listen closely at that moment, you can hear Sarazen, Snead, Hagen, Hogan, Nelson and all the journeyman pros of yesteryear, who split hotel rooms in the heat of summer and carpooled, clubs and all, rolling in their graves.
The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup returns to American soil this year. Davis Love III’s team will look to avenge the defeat at Celtic Manor in 2010 which saw the US team garner only half a point in the Four Ball competition in Session 3 and generally falter down the stretch.
The inherent tensions and nationalistic frenzy of the competition boiled that boiled over at the 1991 Ryder Cup comes to mind this year . Watching the fans outside of Chicago this September toe the line between rowdy patriotic fervor and respect for the game (and the Europeans) will be an entertaining and distinct element of the 2012 Ryder Cup.
The Made-For-TV Events
The PGA Grand Slam of golf is a perfect example of the delightful nonsense which follows the FedEx Cup playoffs. Conceived in 1979, the tournament pits the year’s four major winners against one another in a two day, 36-hole competition. Often held in an exotic location, it’s like the Pro Bowl of golf.
Additionally, there is the "Tiger Woods Show," otherwise known as the Chevron World Challenge, in late November. Tiger’s event features the 18 best golfers in the world, ostensibly, and doles out $100,000-plus to the last place golfer.
Catering to the Woods fan, it’s a limited-field event which Tiger always plays and often plays well (he’s won five of 13). You’re guaranteed a lot of El Tigre, which you’ll be longing for at that point in the year. For the casual golf fan, it’s the most compelling reason to switch between the NFL and golf during the winter months.
The FedEx Cup was conceived in part to make golf worth watching after the Wannamaker is raised. It has generally succeeded in doing so. The made-for-TV events which follow are a light dessert following a full feast and the Ryder Cup is not just great golf, but great sport. All these things together make the rest of the 2012 PGA Tour Season a compelling prospect.