Web.com Tour Championship was hard to follow for the last 25 PGA Tour cards
If you thought the FedEx Cup points—with the resets and the Tour Championship points addition and subtraction—were a lot of fun, then you had to love the Web.com Tour Championship. Other than knowing who was leading the tournament, it was practically impossible to understand the money and the cards and who was in and who was out until the dust had settled.
Of course, if you are a human with a cloud computer implant or Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, no problem. Maybe Google Glass would do the trick. For the rest of us, it was beyond crazy. There was just too much going on.
That doesn't even touch the issue of who was in the event and who wasn't and what some of the players think about that subject. Overlaying all that is the fact that these four events replace Q-School. That's their purpose.
For competitors, figuring out where they stood at the Web.com Championship had to be a nightmare. Every time someone finished a hole or posted a final score, everybody else's money list position could, theoretically, change.
For those who did not get a PGA Tour card with their regular Web.com seasons, they had to make the top 25 in the four-week money. So the tournament wasn't just a golf tournament where somebody wins and gets a trophy and a really nice check. Winning takes care of everything, but only one can win.
Unlike the old Q-School, guys who missed the cut could get a card because this was about money earned for four weeks. Troy Matteson, for instance, was in 13th place in money before the Web.com Tour Championship, missed the cut, but still got his card.
Seung-Yul Noh, who was on top of the money list, didn't enter the tournament. He went to Korea. He also got a card.
During the final event, it was hard to figure it out who was in jeopardy. Even the bubble boy graphic didn't help because it ignored what was going on with the rest of the field, for those who wanted to know. It may have ignored those who might have some other PGA Tour status.
On site, it wasn't better because there was no TV.
What could the players do? If at the start of the day, they knew if they finish in X place, they get Y money and that puts them in Z place on the money list, and that's about all. To do that for the field, simultaneously, all day? It had to be a computational catastrophe.
Here's what would have helped. On TV, we needed to know who on the leaderboard and who in the field already had a card, because they didn't matter for purposes of the results of the day, which was to determine the last 25 PGA Tour cards for 2014. Remember, this event replaces Q-School. It was all about who gets the next 25 cards.
It didn't matter that Chesson Hadley won the Web.com Championship. Someone in the press center uttered a "show the leader!" as TV progressed, but really, he was incidental because already had his card. Great for him that he won, but he was not the main story.
And that's unfortunate.
If he had not already had his card, the prize money would surely have put him into the second set of 25 cards and it would have been more important to him. John Peterson won the four-week money title and the equivalent of being the top of the Web.com year long money list with Michael Putnam.
To understand all this, we really needed a big fat 25 or ON TOUR or 2014 next to the leaderboard name of guys in the field who already had cards or status on the PGA Tour, whether through Web.com, through medical exemption or through any other means other than Web.com finals money list.
We needed that every time their name was shown. We needed that when TV showed a drive or a putt, so we'd know that guy was in or out already. Forget the red and the green numbers. Is the guy in jeopardy? Can I take a bathroom break or does this putt mean something?
We needed to see the entire top 30 money guys MINUS the guys who already had a card. That way we'd know how they were doing. We needed to know who was close and who was out as the tournament progressed. We didn't just need five names either side of 25.
Unfortunately doing all that computation was really time-consuming, and so it's probably the reason it was boiled down to five on either side.
There was no need do massive projections until the players who were in jeopardy were on the back nine. It's like doing FedEx Cup projections in the first week of those finals. Meaningless.
We needed a graphic for "These Guys Are Not Getting a PGA Tour Card for 2014 No Matter What." Doesn't have to be as rude as a circle with a slashed red line by their name or a big red X, but that would certainly convey the "he's out" situation. You can take out the X's or put them in as the day progresses. That works.
Realistically, it was a tough ask for everybody to present all the information needed. It was so far beyond white board math that it was ridiculous.
Making matters even more convoluted, a few of the Web.com top 25 elected not to play in the final event because they already had their cards secured.
Different from that is the matter of who should be in the Web.com finals. Really, that's up to the PGA Tour.
But to lump the 25 guys who already had cards with guys who were trying to earn top 25 money to get a card, who already have some status on the PGA Tour for 2014 through some other category and who finished so far down on PGA Tour money that they basically have no status was part of the confusion.
However, that's exactly what the final two stages of Q-School used to do. To improve your status, even if you had some, you went to stage two and stage three of Q-School. For this new system, that means instead of two tournaments, you play in four.
Twenty-five cards are awarded at the end, and if it improves your status for 2014, you want it no matter where you started.
According to what Alexandre Rocha said to Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel, he thought having the Web.com Top 25 and those who have some status on the PGA Tour plus medical exemption players in the field was not the way to go.
They already had PGA Tour status, he said. Rocha's view was that it was taking away opportunity for the Web.com players to get ANY PGA Tour status. Now that's an issue for the PGA Tour policy-makers; it's a far bigger issue than the end of the Web.com Tour for 2013.
However, if the Web.com Tour Championship is going to continue with this mix of players, and it might, we just need a better system to know who already has a card and who is at jeopardy of not getting one. Or else we can watch something we actually understand, like football.
And we really don't want to do that when we can watch golf.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.