By Steve Elling
MARANA, Ariz. -- Crossing another massive item off his to-do list, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday announced that the mega-money FedEx Cup competition has been extended through 2017 and will include gradual increases in paydays for players.
Speaking for the players on tour: Cha-ching.
At minimum, the extension is worth $175 million based on current sponsorship level of $35 annually toward the pot of golfing gold delivered to players at the end of the financial rainbow. The winner under the current deal receives $10 million at the FedEx finale in Atlanta, one of the biggest paydays in all of sports.
"We're delighted with the opportunity to make this announcement,"' Finchem said, moments before the Accenture Match Play event began at Dove Mountain. "That's become a big part of what the PGA Tour is all about."
Impressively, in the past five months, the tour has secured lucrative and long-term deals with broadcasters CBS and NBC, signed Finchem to a four-year deal, and pushed the FedEx deal along for another five seasons.
Better still, the $10 million paid out to the FedEx winner will almost certainly increase over the coming phase, as will the cash for others in the season-long points derby.
"We will have some growth," Finchem said. "We'll continue to go forward, not backward, in this term."
FedEx quickly jumped on board with the proposal to blow up the existing calendar, start the season in the fall in 2013 and make over the Nationwide/Q-school process as well. That would bring the current Fall Series events into the fold as FedEx series stops, which they currently are not, though it would create a wraparound season similar to the NBA or NHL.
"We're verity pleased with the decision to extend the season," said Mike Glenn, the FedEx marketing chief.
That's not a done deal just yet, Finchem cautioned. The tour Policy Board must sign off on the huge seasonal makeover next month during a meeting March 19 at Bay Hill.
"Clearly it makes the FedEx Cup bigger," Finchem said of the proposal.
Despite seemingly annual criticism of the confusing FedEx points system, Glenn said to company is happy with the current design, given the way the pat few tour finales have played out.
"I can only point to the last two years when we literally felt the winner changed shot by shot on Sunday, which is what the experts would really like to have happen every year," Glenn said. "The drama that plays itself out now at the Tour Championship, and particularly on Sunday, when literally the winner hangs in the balance of the very next shot, that is probably best illustrated by Bill Haas' shot out of the water on No. 17.
"I don't know how much more drama we can get. I think the changes in the point system have really contributed to that. Are there opportunities to improve it further? Perhaps. But we're pretty pleased with where it is right now. "
We're not talking about drama, per se, but clarity, but we'll save that critique for the fall.
As for what's next on his work menu, Finchem laughed. At this point, with the 2013 seasonal makeover seemingly moving toward a conclusion, the biggest items have been crossed off. He still needs some sponsors in selected events and an umbrella sponsor for the Nationwide Tour. The insurance company's contract ends after this season is concluded.
"I'll be happy to lay out for you six or eight key things that are going to dominate a lot of my time over the next two or three years," he laughed.