Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FedEx Cup playoffs

The FedEx Cup playoffs (better known as the Tiger Woods retirement fund) have gotten underway with an interesting tournament at the Barclays in Harrison, N.Y. I’ve got to say that watching the event on TV, the most noticeable pictures were those featuring very few people in the galleries.

Granted, this may have been by design. Barclays could have planned this as a customer outing and limited ticket sales. Also, as wonderful a golf course as Westchester CC is, it is a good course on which to play golf—not watch golf. I can’t believe New York golf fans stayed away because Tiger didn’t show. After all hey had their fan fave, Phil Mickelson there, who be the way, played the best since his wrist injury. He tied for seventh at -11. A healthy Mickelson may present a challenge for Woods which can only lend some semblance of legitimacy to this playoff system.

By the way, I’ll never understand the synergy between Mickelson and the New Yorkers. Granted, I may have a slanted view of the people from the eastern section of the Empire State since I’m from the Boston area and somewhat a Red Sox loyalist, but I just don’t get it. Philly Mick is slick west coast, usually the antithesis of New York. Hefty being popular in New York has the same probability as Mike Vick being a guest judge at the Westchester Kennel Club Dog Show.

I still can’t wait until the awards ceremony after the Tour Championship when PGA Tour Commish Tim Finchem presents the FedEx playoff winner the phony $10 million check (phony because it’s deferred and will be worth more—read below) and then gives the Tour Championship winner an “oh by the way” with a check for $1.26 million. That should be entertaining.

There has been an undercurrent of disenchantment among some of the PGA Tour pros about the deferred money. They want their $10 mill NOW. I’ll bet Tiger and Phil haven’t thought this one through.

The $10 mill goes into the grossly bloated player’s pension account and isn’t available until he reaches 45. As long as the player plays a minimum of 15 events a year, he can defer the payments until age 60 when the payments automatically begin.

Let’s say Tiger wins (there’s a stretch) and the money returns 8 percent a year. If he starts collecting at 45, he’ll have $29.4 million to ease his way towards social security. Lefty is seven years older and his take will be a mere $18.5 million—still enough for a few football bets every Fall.

What if someone like 25-year old Hunter Mahan gets hot? The 8 percent will give him a $46.6 million cushion. Let’s have a little fun with this and the compounded interest blows up to 12 percent. At 55, Mahan will be sitting on $299.6 million…and some of those guys want their $10 million now. The only legitimate argument I’ve heard has been, what if the player wants to give his caddie the 10 percent tip? A good question, but a lot of the top players can just write a seven-figure check.

Meanwhile aging writers have found a way to answer the FedEx Cup winner’s windfall. Our pension plan involves investing five bucks a week in the state lottery.

While we’re speaking about big money, let’s look in on the never-ending saga of Greg and Laura Norman. Their divorce has gotten nastier. It seems the soon-to-be Mrs. Norman not only turned down $100 million; she’s said “no” to $250 million, plus a new house in Palm Beach and a summer home in the Hamptons as well as her legal fees in this breakup. That’s a pretty large “NO.” It seems there was a hook attached to the $250 million—she would have to sign a confidentiality contract where she could not complain about her marriage anytime in the future. For $250 million, I’d catch a quick case of total amnesia and forget I was ever married. Heck, I’ve almost done that for nothing.

I’ve got admit that I am curious. What could she say publicly that would be worth $250 million for her silence? Inquiring minds want to know. By the way, we now know why Sharkie isn’t playing the Champions Tour—he’s making way too much money to go out and get trimmed by guys he used to beat by 10 shots a week.

I think this week; we should remember better days for the Normans and have the sommelier break out a bottle from the Greg Norman vineyards and make it one of the good ones, not the one with a twist off cap. Bartender, put away that plastic cup and pour us a couple of glasses of Greg Norman Estates Cabernet Merlot Coonawara and make that a 1996 vintage please and in your finest stemware if you will.

Cheerio mates! Remember the better days.

See you on the first tee.

Jack O'Leary

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