by Jeff Skinner
For the second straight week the PGA Tour had another spellbinding finish. Last week Kyle Stanley’s meltdown handed the win to unlikely winner Brandt Snedeker and this past Sunday we saw chain smoking Spencer Levin’s lead disappear in the desert wind. Ironically the beneficiary of Levin’s implosion was last week’s heartbreak kid Stanley.
The finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open while very exciting probably went unnoticed by far too many fans. The week at the TPC Scottsdale is billed as the biggest party in golf and they rarely disappoint. The wild and crazy atmosphere at the stadium like 16th hole is legendary. After all these years it looks like most of the players have bought into playing a par three in the middle of a frat party.
But when you put the final round on Sunday against the Super Bowl you are bound to lose fans both at the course and watching from home. This tournament draws more fans than any other event. This week’s tally was 518,262 fans for the week. Saturday saw 173,210 on the course while Super Sunday had less than half that. On Super Sunday only 58,447 hit the course as many fans, like the rest of the world choose to start their Super Bowl parties early.
Tripp Isenhour of the Golf Channel suggested moving the Waste Management Open to a Saturday finish and that idea has some merit. Let’s face facts: The Super Bowl rules Sunday, all day Sunday. If the PGA Tour moved the final round to Saturday they could take advantage of the time difference for a prime time finish on the east coast and garner some prized television ratings.
The Tour already showed that there are amenable to moving playing days when they moved the finish of the Tournament of Champions to Monday so they would avoid the NFL Playoffs. The USGA even moved start times of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to get a prime time finish.
There are many factors to consider and maybe CBS will need some convincing but a Saturday finish may give them the ratings they desire. We all know that anything that goes up against the Super Bowl, even the pregame, is likely to get low ratings. Maybe a one year trial run could give them an indicator of how it would work.
Saturday traditionally has been the big day at the Waste Management Open and a Saturday finish would certainly insure that.