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PGA Tour play-offs set to come of age

Iain Carter | 22:12 UK time, Sunday, 16 September 2012

Since their inception in 2007 the PGA Tour play-offs have grown far stronger and more appealing.

When Tiger Woods became the inaugural FedEx Cup champion there was little drama. Woods ran away with the season ending Tour Championship and the $10m (£6.2m) bonus jackpot despite not even entering the first event in the play-off series.

A year later, Vijay Singh merely needed to remain upright at the closing tournament to take the abundant spoils.

Woods won again in 2009 thanks to a runner-up finish to Phil Mickelson in the grand finale and a year later a requisite par at the last was enough for to give Jim Furyk the biggest cheque in golf.

Rory McIlroy smiles as he chats with Tiger Woods during the second round of the BMW Championship

McIlroy and Woods could give PGA bosses a dream finale to their lucrative play-off series. Photo: Gerry

With each season the points system has been tweaked to ensure the Tour Championship's relevance and last year we witnessed a play-off to decide the tournament and the FedEx Cup.

It was the dream scenario for PGA Tour bosses other than it didn't feature the "A-listers" they would have wished to contest their extravagant dash for dosh.

The less than box office Bill Haas (the eventual champion) and Hunter Mahan were handed an award winning script but Haas blew his lines by not knowing that he had actually won the $10m.

The scenario this week looks significantly more attractive because the game's two biggest names head the standings going into the final play-off event.

In theory any one of the 30 players who have made it to Atlanta can win the $10m but it's Rory McIlroy who leads the way from Tiger Woods in the points standings.

A shoot-out between the newly crowned PGA champion and world number one, against the former top dog who has won three times this season, would provide a blockbusting finale.

And it is attracting public attention in a crowded sporting marketplace, which is so important for the future of the professional game.

Prize money levels in America at this time of the year are mind blowing. The Tour Championship is the fourth consecutive $8m event. Then there's the $35m (£21.6m) FedEx Cup bonus pool.

The spoils are divided between an ever dwindling number of survivors from the whittling effect of the play-off process. Furthermore, those that make it to East Lake gain significant exemptions for majors for the following year.

So a compelling format has been generated to dominate the September schedule. It is little wonder so many players of every nationality gravitate Stateside as soon as they are able.

It makes life all the tougher for the European Tour. Last week the Andalucia Masters fell victim to the lack of public funds in Southern Spain.

The Valderrama-based tournament was due to start on 18 October and was cancelled at an embarrassingly late stage.

Tour bosses are performing admirably in more favourable markets, adding the BMW Masters in Shanghai and the Perth International to the October roster.

But these do nothing to boost the European scene.

For regular Tour players losing an event like the Andalucia Masters is a big blow. It is one less tournament to earn Euros to bolster positions in the Race to Dubai.

In such circumstances it's worth recalling the comments of David Lynn in the wake of his second place behind McIlroy at the PGA Championship in August.

Lynn is such a European Tour stalwart that his amazing week at Kiawah Island was his first experience of American golf. His sensationally high finish provided the Englishman with an opportunity to take up a US Tour card for next season.

He doesn't bubble with enthusiasm at the prospect and clearly wishes more of his contemporaries felt the same. "It's not good for the Tour if guys all keep playing in America all the time," Lynn said.

"If guys just have that attitude, like 'I've got the right to go and play over there, I'm going to play over there' it seriously doesn't do a lot of good for the European Tour in the future."

Lynn puts a high premium on the Tour's famed camaraderie and lifestyle but notes: "It is a vicious circle where America keeps getting stronger and Europe keeps getting weaker."

There is no Madrid Masters, as was originally scheduled for this week, which also tells the story of the impact of the Eurozone crisis on the golfing calendar.

Meanwhile, Europe's biggest stars - McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose - are destined to become even richer in Atlanta over the coming days.

Westwood will join the other four in becoming a full-time US resident next year but more immediately this quintet will be on duty for Europe in the Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Of course they shouldn't be criticised for chasing dollars by the fistful, but given the current economic climate they should make sure their duty to Europe runs deeper than just the Ryder Cup.


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  • Comment number 1.

    the scoring system is so screwed up that I dont care who wins now.. Mc Ilroy should already be in the situation where by he has won it. How can you just reset the points as if what went before was irrelevant, why call it a play off series then. It also ks coparisn with previousn years impossible as the basis has changed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Very sad to see the cancellation of the Andalucian Masters, however as a Perth resident for the past 7 years I now wonder how many European tour players will come and play in the Perth International tournament on the 17th October, long way to travel, however this is the richest tournament in Australian boasting more prize money than the Australian Open or Masters

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not sure whether Lynn's quote about America getting stronger and Europe getting weaker is entirely fair or accurate to be fair... But altogether very disappointing about Andalucian Masters. Was one of my favourite events.

  • Comment number 4.

    If the "better" players go over to America to chase the $ then does that mean that there are more spaces on the European tour ?
    It seems strange that 3 of the world's top players (LW, RMc and to some extent LD) cut their teeth on the European tour and have now moved to the PGA. Maybe it's better that the Euro tour becomes a "feeder" tour. As with moving from the Asian / Sunshine tours etc to Europe. It has probably always been the case. Now, with increased mobility, travel to and from tours has become easier.
    The US economy is probably as shot as the European model. However they don't like to admit it and just carry on regardless.

  • Comment number 5.

    #4- I think the Eueopean Tour is in danger of doing exactly that, i.e. becoming a feeder tour. Never wind Europeans who've pretty much become full-time PGA Tour players (such as Rory, Luke, Justin, Poults and GMac), look at the number of 'International' players who cut their teeth in Europe but went to the US as sson as they were good enough- all the way back to Els, Goosen and Vijay- to that you can now add Adam Scott, Louis Ooostheuizen, Charl Shwartzel etc. The PGA Tou's change of q-school rules may mean a few lower-ramked European based players may find it diffuclt to get on teh PGA Tour but the Top players- expect Peter hanson and Martin kaymer to join up next year- will be welcomed with open arms by Commissioner Tim.

    None of which, I might add, is a bad thing in my eyes. Look at how exciting the FedEx Cup has become now that truly the top players from all over the world are partaking. May not be everyone's cuppa tea but I love it!

    As the global finnancial pinch hits, it seems golf tournaments and tour sthe world over and being efefcted, but The PGA Tous seems bullet-proof in that respect, so kudos to Tim fro that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Personally, I have found it silly in these times that we still have two tours competing for the top dog honour. Now I have said this before on this forum in the past but there needs to be a World Tour at the top with the European and PGA tours feeding their best players to that.

    This will get over the short comings of the PGA Tour - hosted solely in North America other than the Open and WGC event in Shanghai - and the European Tour's lack of inticement for the best players to stay.

    This will also take golf to a global audience and safeguard the future of the game, as long as the relevant governing bodies appropriate the funds correctly.

    It is time that the proverbial pissing competitions stop between the old gentleman in blazers before the game disintegrates.

  • Comment number 7.

    6- One problem with your (and Geg Norman's) World Tour Uptopia is..... (drum roll) Money!!!

    The only country which has the intrastructure, support, sponsors backing and fanbase to support such a tour in the kind of way that would make it attractive for the top world players is the gold ol' US of A!

    Remember when the WGCs started they were meant to be 'world' events but as time went on they went on to become glorified PGA Tour stops as the american market and american sponsors were the only ones who would support them. And that was during the 'boom' years. Does anything yout think that sitauation is any different now?

    On the PGA Tour, FedEx alone is pumping millions into supporting the Tour, contrast that with Europe where sponsors are quening up to jump ship, and local governments are pulling out of backing their events in the name of austerity (as happened at Andulucia). And that's ebfore you get into the punative taxation system that exists in most of Europe that puts the big-name Americans off.

    The World Tour is a Nice idea in therory, but has ZERO chance of happening in practice for the forseable future. In the meantime, I'm happy for the one Tour that seems to want to make golf an actual Event to thrive on that.

  • Comment number 8.

    The points system is not perfect. I think we are all in agreement with that. But in principal the "playoff" is just that - an opportunity for anyone to win and the top 5 are "seeded" to give them a chance to win as a reward for previous games. In the UK it is harder to understand the playoff system as the EPL, at the end of the day, has the winner who has the most points of the whole season. But in other countries like the US with NFL, NHL, NBA and in Australia (AFL, NFL) there is the "regular" season and the "playoffs." Just because you finish top or have won more games doesn't mean you are the eventual champion. In fact there is little recognition in actually finishing top of the regular season. I think the PGA are trying to replicate this sudden death format with regular and playoff seasons but its not quite there yet. Seeing as TV is where the money is at and it is all about making it ready for TV, why not make the final sunday of the final event a shotgun start so we have people finishing all over the course who could win from anywhere with better "made for TV" statistics etc etc and you have the "top seeds" teeing off on 1 and so forth so they are most likely to finish on 18 as a winner? It's a little crazy but having USD 10M and the current format is a little crazy if you ask me anyway

  • Comment number 9.

    Its my belief that all playoff systems are essentially flawed as you will get situations where the most consistent teams/players do not become overall champions. We get this in football where the 6th place team in the championship can obtain the holy grail of the EPL even after finishing 10/15 points behind the teams above them. The same can be said about the FedEx. Whilst this year it would take a major meltdown of the top 5 to allow a lower ranked player to win, it is in theory possible for Piercy in 30th to win it.
    Surely it's time for these playoffs to be played as true tournaments. 130 reduced to 100/70/30 by means of a cut of those players not making the grade. No one would then be able to pick and chose tournaments to miss and the most consistent players would progress to an eventual winner.
    With the financial situation in Europe it will not be a surprise to see more tournaments go the way of andalucia. The money power houses are now the emerging markets of Asia and possible even Russia. More tournaments will no doubt go to these areas leaving just a few, The Open may wel soon be the only big tournament to come to these islands. I hope not but will not be surprised.

  • Comment number 10.

    9- all of this about the playoffs 'not getting the best player' would be important if they were there to decide the best golfer on the planet- but they aren't! What they are is a means to keep the top Tour pros playing after the PGA Championship (Tiger and Phil would barely hit a ball in anger in between the end of the PGA Championship and the Tour Champ in the old days). They are there to keep golf in the limelight when the attention of most US sports fans is on the new NFL season. In that sense, they are now a success. You can debate the merits of the process but the american public are buying into the 'product'

  • Comment number 11.

    A lot has been said here about the difference in money between America and Europe. In the fed-ex playoffs you only have to look at the sponsers: Deutschbank, Barclays and BMW. These are three of the biggest firms or banks in the world, but all three are originally and still are European. If you took the European sponsers out of the playoffs and invested that money in the Europeantour it might be a brighter tour and attract top world class players. To blame here is the organisers of the Europeantour.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Fedex is very good this year - the Rory Tiger thing adds a lot. However, if this rivalry is to ripen to its full potential it's important that at some point soon Tiger wins a big event with Rory in contention. Been all the other way thus far.

  • Comment number 13.

    Its hard to point the finger of blame at anyone without really knowing the financial infrastructure, support and investment required by the various parties (governing body, main sponsor, subsiduary sponsors, golf course)

    The USA have a huge audience of golf fans and players who keep regular tournament attendances high.

    However I think TV is the biggest thing, if you look at the PGA tour it will be watched across America - in the UK and Europe we have to stay up a little bit later but we all do with the big tournaments - so they get all the bites of the cherry

    the European tour coverage normally starts at midday and finishes at 6, when most in US are in bed or getting up so they perhaps wouldn't see a reason to broadcast it as widely over there

    also for those who have lambasted the likes of Westwood for moving to America - well he gets a shed load of abuse for his world ranking not being accurate because he plays tournaments in teh middle of nowhere to support the european tour, and then mvoes to USA and gets lambasted for that

    Mcilroy is based in USA and he's improved because of it - Donald the same - its a recipe for success AND lots of money bit only if they are good enough to win tournaments - and the weather is much nicer - which IMO is another massive incentive to tour the US

  • Comment number 14.

    11- all three caomanies you mention either currentley or recently sponser Et events

    Deutshe Bank used to sponsor what was called The European Players Championship or something similair- the evnt was notable because Tiger used to play in it alot

    Barclays recentley pulled out of sponsoring the Scottish Open- at the same time they were increasing their commitment to the New York based Barclays event on the PGA Tour

    BMW sponsor a number of Euro Tour events, including the International Open and the rceent Italian Open (they also sponosr so of the co-sanctioned far east events). They area also a 'partner' of the ET as a whole

    I don't know how much of the loss of the first two is down to the sponsors preference or the ET's poor marketing etc. Thought it worthy of note, however.

  • Comment number 15.

    The European tour is almost like a qualifying school for the PGA tour.
    Like it or not the PGA has bigger sponsorship, larger prize pools, better weather, better courses and the best players. The European tour is a sub par tour compared to its big brother in the US.

    Westwood should have moved to the US 10 years ago...if he didnt hate the Americans so much he would have and now its a bit like he is going over there with his tail between his legs now having to admit that the US tour is where all the best players play.

    Westwood has been a big fish in a small pond in Europe...lets see how many PGA events he wins to add to his current total of TWO wins in a 20 year career.
    He wont win another event while he is in the USA and he will return home to Europe after 2 years and having falling outside the top 10 in the world and try and win some small events to get his way back up the rankings.

  • Comment number 16.

    Deutschbank, Barclays and BMW may all be European in origin but they are global now and the PGA is where they will get their ROI, not any other tour unfortunately. It's a virtuous cycle attracting the best sponsors gives the best kitty attracts the best players attarcts the most viewers gets the biggest TV exposure gets the biggest sponsors....

    Perhaps it's time to look at a global/world tour again with the PGA, Euro Tour, Asia Tour, Australia etc all acting as feeder tours to the main event? Each tour has its own version of a playoff series with x amount (weighted of course) being promoted up to the world tour? Say top 50 automatically qualify with the remaining playing for promotion.It wouldn't be that hard to take the majors (side note: isn't it time to take one of the majors, say PGA, out of the US and move it around tours between Asia, ET, PGA, Sth AFrica, Australia... )WGC events, and a handful of others to make a 20 event global tour with players being able to fall back to their "regular" tour if they want to play more events or are short of automatic qualifying?

  • Comment number 17.

    This "world tour" idea all sounds good - but you would have to think such a proposal landing on PGA tour HQ desk and them asking "whats in it for us"??

    They have most of the worlds best players on their books, already have the attendance, TV rights and money, major sponsors etc

    The only avenue the PGA tour might be interested in is tapping into the Eastern Market with big tournaments in Dubai and China - but would they be happy to welcome a load of europeans at the cost of Americans losing their card?

    Think of all the colleges in the US and Q-school and how much that creates in revenue streams etc.

    PGA would not be interested as they think (and perhaps rightly) that they have it sewn up good enough already.

  • Comment number 18.

    I have to disagree with Iain Carter's last statement. Ultimately they're professionals and don't have a 'duty' to anyone. To relate this to the real world - do we all have a 'duty' to an employer/company who trained us to do our job after we move on? Of course not and to suggest otherwise is nonsense.

    @17 - you're absolutely right. The "World Tour" effectively already exists, it's aka The PGA Tour. Geographically it might not fit Norman's orginal concept, but that's what the PGA Tour has largely become - the best players from around the globe competing regularly in the same competitions.

    The ET is clearly suffering from the economic climate more than the PGA Tour. Filling the early/late season slots with Asian tournaments certainly helps, but you can't blame players for chasing the big money.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Utopian view is of course lovely. I think that a world tour along similar lines to Tennis is possible, but frankly i think that calling it unlikely would be an understatement. Only 12 months ago the European Tour was boasting that it was in a position of great strength. 3 major winners in 2010, and 3 in 2011, how quickly that turns around. I can now see a scenario whereby a player wins the European Money list having not played an event on Europeans soil with the exception of the Open Championship. However i'm sure these things are cyclical and i wouldnt be sounding the death knell of the European Tour just yet.

    On the matter of the Fed-Ex cup i find the system frankly laughable, even taking into account that it is a set of playoffs. The individual tournaments themselves are all excellent as they attract the world top players. But the final Fed-Ex prize, I'm sorry i have no interest who wins that because the system doesnt necessarily produce a winner on merit.

  • Comment number 20.

    #17 that's a fair point and unfortunately the way of thinking that is endemic to the US and perhaps to as all in a way. Why should I sacrifice anything for the greater good of anyone else? Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my behalf but I would like to believe that a global tour with a global ruling body (part PGA, part R&A elected members from other tours?) with a noble goal of promoting the game globally with the best of the best playing in all corners of the world (must commit to playing x% of global tour thereby playing outside the US more) is more than just a pipe-dream. I mean Augusta are tying to promote the game in Asia (for selfish reasons?) with junior funding of events can it really be so hard to work together on this? Unfortunately i already know the answer to this....

  • Comment number 21.

    How flawed is this play-off system? Rory has won 2 out of 3 events, yet could still not win the $10m first prize if he finishes second next week and someone else in the top 5 of the standings who has not won a play off event wins - surely whoever wins the most play-off events should win the jackpot (and if it is a tie, then a $10m play off - ratings winner anyone?). In the baseball world series, whoever wins the most play-off matches wins!

    If the PGA prefer the Tour Championship to be the "Superbowl" of the tour, the current projected standing and multiple permutation system is far too confusing and un-viewer friendly (especially if you are a spectator at the course, in which case you wouldn't know what on earth was going on), it should be a handicapped start (e.g something like 1st in the standings starts at -8, 2nd -7, 3rd -6, 4th-5th -5, 6th-8th -4, 9th-12th -3, 13th-17th -2, 18th-23rd -1, and 24th-30th level par).

  • Comment number 22.

    Ross1980 is making a lot of sense and I agree. Personally I view the two tours in a manner based on how they are presented to me. When I want to watch Golf, I watch the ET. When Sky do their own production, the coverage is excellent and in depth showing as many drives and fairway shots as putts. However the US coverage tends to focus on scoring, so much more putting and less strategy, so to me the US Tour is more about Sports entertainment than pure Golf persay. Not that this is bad, just different and when I want to be entertained, I watch the US tour.

    Overall, I love the coverage we get of both tours, even those the BBC still show too :) , are all excellent.

  • Comment number 23.

    This all sounds very similar to the english premier league blowing virtually avery other league away in terms of revenue streams. As a keen golfer and Celtic supporter I have watched my club quickly lose the ability to compete in the transfer market over the last 10 years and with it, the ability to compete at any real level in Europe. I hope the same doesn't end up happening to the european tour. They have done well and tried to be imaginative in recent years with the race to dubai etc but it doesn't seem to be attracting sponsors to lower profile events like andalucia or madrid etc. I think the world tour sounds attractive but they would have to have bigger profile events from round the globe. Either way, I'm looking forward to the ryder cup and have loved the fed ex series of events. There's still more in golf to be excited about than not but i'm afraid, for the European tour most of it is stateside...

  • Comment number 24.

    My guess is that the PGA tour are already planning to expand the tour with the changes from the 2013/14 season, where the season is going to start in October rather than January and therefore the duration of the season is going to be 52 weeks rather than the current 40 odd weeks - currently that leaves about 10 blank weeks to fill - I can see a few events around the world filling those events with the good existing events that are no doubt under a long term contract moving slightly so not to be "lost" - I can envisage an Australian/Asian/Middle East swing in November/December, and a European swing in the summer. You heard it here first....!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    # 20

    I appreciate what you are saying - but a "noble goal" is just that - it doesn't make it lucrative, or necessarily watchable or viable as a business enterprise.

    Fed-Ex invest millions and they in turn will want and NEED a return on their investment.

    Would also mean USPGA and R&A working more closely together and more amicably which I don't see happening really as they are each only interested in £££ and getting one up on each other

    Agree with # 22 - sat watching the Italian Open at the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable with coverage of a host of players and not just the top two and Tiger Woods and the sporadic chip in

    difference being the US are used to it with NFL, Hockey, BAseball etc

  • Comment number 26.

    The consensus that seems to eb coming from this is that any sort of 'World Tour' won't happen without some considerable consecions from the sport in the United States (A position I happen to be in full agreement with)

    The question therefore arises- 'Why should the various American golfing bodies- the USGA, The PGA of America, the PGA Tour- be the ones charged with growing the game globally?'

    The PGA and the PGA Tour exist purely for the benefit of their members- most of whom are either US born and bred or spend signisifcant amounts of the year living there. The USGA's jurdistriction doesn't even extend beyond the US and Mexico. As Adrain rightly points out, they're all entitled to ask 'What's in it for us?'

    I think #24 might be on the right lines- if the world of Golf wants to tap into the vast trapping of the PGA Tour brand to grow the game globally, it will have to do so on the PGA Tour's terms. There's no way American golfers/audiences will want to see historic tournaments like the Pebble Beach, Hilton Head, Colonial, Bryon nelson Tour stops (all of which are far older than the Europen Tour itself) or grand events like the Memroial dimish in status in order to accomodate start-up events in other countries, especially since these events have had to work hard to make them succesful.

    Nonetheless there are signs that the PGA Tour is starting to spread it's wings a bit- the extension of the PGA Tour season to an all-year round season running from fall one year to fall the next has created opportunities in the PGA Tour calander which they are starting to use to spread the PGA Tour beyond North America- the elevtion of the HSBC to full tour status from next year, the co-sanctioned event in Malaysia, the upcoming Tournament of Hope in Suid Afrika etc. I hope this is the beginning of the idea that the PGA Tour sitting in it's ivory tower dumping on world golf getting dispelled a little.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is very obvious why sponsors are attracted to the US tour as opposed to the European Tour. As an American residence I have the privilege of being able to why every tour event on TV without having to subscribe to a sports channel. You don't have to buy expensive cable packages to watch golf. When I lived in the UK I hardly watched any golf as it was always on Sky Sports. Sponsors sponsor in order to make money and you make money by being able to reach out to more people. In the US alone there are over 350 million people, the majority with access to either CBS or NBC. When the ET stops selling out to the highest bidding TV companies and allows golf on TV stations where the majority of people actually have access then the sponsors will come back .

  • Comment number 28.

    A global tour sounds good and if it happens good. The reason why I think it won't happen is because of the prize money. The prize money on offer in The States is too high for any other country to keep up with. Most tournaments in The States have a purse of 900,000$ to the winner, so which American is going to fly half the way around the world (Australia) to win 1million$ when he can win the equivalent playing in his own backyard. For the Europeans it is a different matter, because the average prize money on offer is 330,000€ or in most cases less. If you want a world tour and the best players in the world playing, then you have to offer prize which is lucrative enough to get them to attend. The other thing which I have noticed is that when there is a major tournament the Europeantour stops for week, while the PGA has a tounament at the same time. It provides a tournament for it's players who don't qualify. I am going to stick with the post I made earlier and say that the Europeantour organisers don't do enough to provide top class tournaments for their members.

  • Comment number 29.

    @27 apenduck

    Totally agree - the US have a different (read: better) model than here in the UK. All the major US sports are on free-to-air TV because they understand that the way to keep growing the sport and keep the next generation interested is by having it widely available. It also has the effect that the big sponsors keep coming back as they are getting to the biggest audiences.

    To be fair, the R&A have also made this point and that's why they don't sell The Open rights to Sky, who no doubt made a higher bid the last time the contract was up for renewal.

    The BBC have really shown no interest in extending their golf package beyond the Open and Masters (and even the Masters coverage has been reducing). If they continue to have guys like Michael Vaughan doing interviews then they should just pack it in altogether!!

  • Comment number 30.

    The Europeantour needs to reevaluate the rules for the all players.

    Yes the top players sell tickets, but there are also many players just a couple of events away from bursting out of the obscurity who are dying for a decent chance on the ET. Those players will surely look to repay the ET over time. Making stars out of those players, rather than focus on those who are already stars will reap rewards for the ET.

    Some players who have lost tour cards are given loads of invitations into events. Those should be shared around amongst deserving players players who need some assistance getting into events or back on tour eg. winners of lesser events in Asia, SA or Canada. Unless the ET is fairer with this it will lose players to the PGA tour as players may aswell try for the PGA tour Q-school if they think they are not getting a fair crack on ET. If I was only going to get 15 events on the ET and the same on the PGA Tour as a Q-scholl graduate then I know which one I would be choosing

    All ET events should have the same entry criteria. Top players get into events on the back of any number of criteria eg. world rankings and/or on Order of Merit and/or exemption. This means that for certain (invariably bigger events) players can get into events bvo their world ranking without event having played in an ET event that year. More should be done to get regular tour players into events and not just have spots 'reserved' one way or another for the top players. The ET could e.g say that the BMW PGA is open to the top 50 players on the world rankings provided they have played in at least 5 events by the week leading up to Wentworth. The same applies to other big money events eg. French and Scottish Opens. If a 'top' player decides not to play then all the better for the regular / invited players who are committed to the ET. Remeber the ET isnt there just to cater for the top handful of players!

    The top players (who have in the main earned their status as such) should also have a look at themselves. If one gets into the top 50 in the world, the present system allows them to 'protect' their rankings so as to ensure that they remain eligible for the top events, which in turn offer the most ranking points. The players therefore need to play less events (thus not selling tickets or increasing TV exposure for sponsors) and only need to play average golf in those big events safe in the knowledge that 30th place in a major/big event may well give them more ranking points than winning a regular tour

  • Comment number 31.

    Everyone else see this ?

    wonder what bookies are giving on him being a major winner before hes 30.

    I hope he continues to do himself and his father and his family proud

  • Comment number 32.

    # 29

    similar argument with the cricket - and see as though you brought him up they asked Michael Vaughan whether he would prefer free to air BBC coverage of the Ashes or SKY

    he said it was a fine line because BBC allows more people to see it and spread coverage of top class cricket nationwide

    whereas the money SKY give allows teams to enhance youth facilities and put more ££ back into the sport

    never heard an argument to say that ££'s go back into grass roots golf - that isnt me saying i dont believe money does go there but ive never hear a pro come out and applaud all the money that is fed back into the system

    there should surely be a contract from whoever is in charge to say that the pinnacle events of the sport should be allowed to be bid for AND on terrestrial TV at the same time

    FA Cup Final
    Open Golf
    Wimbledon Tennis
    Grand National and other major horse meets
    others I havent mentioned......

    that way you get best of both worlds with nationwide free to view TV plus the money going in

    best example I can think of is the Cycling team - SKY put the money behind it with TEAM SKY which although different to British Cycling there is a cross over with personnel - but the coverage BBC provided for Olympics and ITV provided for TDF promoted it further across the country

  • Comment number 33.

    The play-off's are clearly are pretty bonkers and the winner of the FedEx essentially irrelevant. Haas, Kuchar and Furyk's wins only prove that. The cream has risen to the top this year however and McIlroy and Woods are the star turn but could finish 2nd and 3rd and not win the $10m which is obviously insane regardless of what the PGA Tour commissioner might say but the drama of the tournaments has been great and East Lake will be better still with a good chance the top five will be there or thereabouts again.

    On the subject of the Tour's I think Europe's problem has been spreading itself too thin for too long and trying to compete with the US Tour which is clearly can't do financially. It should concentrate more time and money on fewer tournaments, give them more of big week feel like the american's do so well when the tour comes to town over there and increase the purses and increase the intensity at each event.

  • Comment number 34.

    33- Kuchar's never won the playoffs

  • Comment number 35.


    It's only really the R&A's remit to grow grassroots golf, and they do put a lot of money into the game at lower levels.

    The list of events you mentioned more or less made up what were known as 'protected events' which meant that they had to be shown on free TV. Somewhere along the way I think the rules were tweaked to read that free TV must be given rights to show some coverage, but pay TV could hold the rights to the live coverage, hence English cricket tests, Ryder Cup etc being snapped up.

  • Comment number 36.

    # 35

    Do the R&A get any money from SKY for owning rights to ET golf coverage?

    They must get a slice?

  • Comment number 37.

    Just a balance to the point made about Golf on US TV. Yes it's on the free to air channels, but the frequency of ad breaks really kills the continuity of the broadcast. Anytime Sky pick up the feed without the additional international feed, they have to apologise for the numbers of breaks in coverage. Personally, I'd prefer to pay for less breaks, but I take the point that it is open to the masses and will attract higher viewing figures, it's just the quality of the broadcast suffers IMHO.

  • Comment number 38.

    Lee Westwood is out of his debt in America...I think he will be lucky to finish in the top 20 in the money list next year.

  • Comment number 39.

    Y-B i had read the article about Seve's (rip) son this morning and was reminded of the great man himself looking at the pictures. It is uncanny that the finish and head position if so reminiscent of his father. Lets hope he can continue to become a tour great and emulate his late fathers achievements.
    With regard to the general topic concerning the merits of both tours. A way to ensure the best of the Europeans remaining over here would be to limit the Ryder Cup qualifications to only european tour events. This however could have a detrimental effect on the RC as the cream will no doubt chase the $$$ and turn their back on the RC.
    These top players have every right to cash in where they can, if i had been any good and the opportunity arose i would have been off like a shot and i imagine most people would. Top players however attract crowds, TV coverage and sponsors. Th emore top players that can be attracted to these shores the more sponsors will hopefully follow. Catch 22.

  • Comment number 40.

    Lee Westwood finished second on his last event in America... to a non-american golfer (Rory). I think Lee (and his debt) will be just fine.

  • Comment number 41.

    Ross, dont fall in to his trap.

  • Comment number 42.


    I don't know, but I would guess that they don't - after all it's not as if the R&A 'own' the rights to run any golf tournaments or that the European Tour events were ever the R&A's to sell.

  • Comment number 43.

    # 37

    I know what you are saying and it is very tedious but its the adverts that are coughing up the money that SKY give to ET

    similar to ITV but adverts ar emore frequent to make up for it

    so the customer doesn't suffer financially but gets a less pleasurable viewing experience

    #40 --> see post #41

  • Comment number 44.

    #Ross....Yes he finished 2nd but over the course of a year playing 15- 20 events on the PGA tour he will struggle to keep up. I would expect a few top 5 finishes but he will never really threathen a win come the back nine on Sunday.

    Kind of like Luke Donald...he is on the PGA tour 12 years and he has 5 wins. Thats 1 win every 2 and a half years. Lee wont be as "successful".

  • Comment number 45.


    I'd glad to hear it!

  • Comment number 46.

    Jimmy you must have read my mind and as I was reading and preparing a post you said everything I was thinking saved me the trouble thanks.

  • Comment number 47.

    I believe the Spanish are being vindictive. If they were awarded the 2018 Ryder Cup, they probably would have found the cash from some financial billionaire hedgefund. It's totally illogical that the Spanish subsidise the huge debt of Real-Madrid, to the hilt. Yet, they let 3 golf tournaments disappear.

    Only last week, Swiss Bank, stepped in to salvage The 2013 Hong Kong Open. Also, The Irish Open, had a late "White Knight" come to their aid. It looks to me, political shenanigans are being played in Spain.

  • Comment number 48.

    #47 Real Madrid are among the top 3 biggest names in football, I'm not sure that's politics.

  • Comment number 49.

    gbell- #48
    A golfing blog- so i'll be brief.
    The huge debt clearing of R Madrid is highly contentious, as the asset they used to "wipe the slate clean", a humble training ground........was amazingly valued at $478 Million by the local council. A political/Royal valuation, if ever there was one.

    Which leads me back to my original suggestion- the loss of 3 Spanish golfing tournaments in 2013, is vindictive, and unnecessary..... As Lord Grantham said last night..... "The show must go on" (;>

  • Comment number 50.

    @38 & 44 Jamesmatthew.

    Your opinion of future events may indeed come to pass, only time will tell. You’re not that far off the mark now actually since Westwood has played 14 events (less than anyone else currently in the top 100 PGA money list it should be noted) and he currently ranks 21st.

    So although you’re trying to make derogatory comments about his potential future standing you are in fact only highlighting how well he is performing in order for him to be where he is in the current money list.

    Should you need further proof that your points only highlights how well Lee is doing then note his avge earnings per event ranks him 5th behind the current top 4 in the money list. This implies that the more he plays on the PGA tour the higher he will actually climb up the list, not fall, as you suggest.

    Now I can hear you saying “but he’ll plummet down the world rankings playing against stronger fields week in week out on the PGA tour”. Again time will tell but you may be interested to note that in the calendar year to date his avge world ranking points per tournament outside of the PGA tour is 10.65. His avge ranking points gained per tournament on the PGA tour is 11.61. Perhaps the perceived strength in depth of the PGA tour is just that, perceived, and there would appear to be every evidence to suggest playing more often on the PGA tour will result in a climb in the world ranking, not a fall.

  • Comment number 51.

    @9 WCIHIS

    "Its my belief that all playoff systems are essentially flawed as you will get situations where the most consistent teams/players do not become overall champions...
    "Surely it's time for these playoffs to be played as true tournaments. 130 reduced to 100/70/30 by means of a cut of those players not making the grade. No one would then be able to pick and chose tournaments to miss and the most consistent players would progress to an eventual winner."

    This is one of the best 'The FedEx is rubbish. Here's how to do it properly' posts I've seen in a while.

    You start by saying that it should reward consistancy and then within the next paragraph describe a system that would reward consistancy less than the current system.

    If you started with the top 130 and then took the top 100 from the first tournament, the top 70 from that tournament, then the top 30 from the last and then the Tour Championship winner was the winner then the guy who came 130th on the points list could go, 100th, 70th, 30th, 1st and be the FedEx winner. The guy who led the points list could go 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd and be FedEx runner up.

    Is that better in your mind?

  • Comment number 52.

    @ 50 Well put, good stats Lee is a quality player and will do well on the US tour.

    With regards to the likes of Kaymer and Hanson joining the US tour I believe in the past from being on the Ryder cup team they get some sort of excemption to play on the US tour next year. The euro tour will not become a feeder tour for the US tour imo its just that certain players have decided to move and play in the US for several reasons and others will carry on the Euro tour as is their want.
    The head of the euro tour O Grady has done a lot of good work and taking the tour further affield will keep it alive and prolong the playing year.
    There is really already a world tour in the Euro tour its just the fact that few Americans play unless they are receiving an appearance fee or are sponsored by the tournament sponsor.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ Jimmy..... Are we having a fed ex style finale to the prediction league with a re-setting of the points ?? ;-)

    I assume that we are just picking from the PGA this week ?

    If you look at the PGA there seems to be more sponsors available. Usually 1 tournament = 1 sponsor eg Farmers insurance, Shriners Hospital etc etc and parts of the actual coverage sponsored (read presented) by the ".......super di duper hi energy snack for professionals". In Europe there's BMW, HSBC, Emirates who do a few tournaments. I dare say without them the ET would begin to falter.
    Sport is BIG business in the USA with the system geared up for it. Everything has to be bought - insurance, medicines etc and therefore money involved. In Europe there are benefits given and things are provided. Therefore the money aspect is less and the need to promote (sponsor ?) not as great.
    We all know the American market is very insular and this in itself can generate huge sums of money. The European market is open and again by its very nature has different countries wanting different things.

    The fact that the PGA tour is becoming longer only benefits one tour - the PGA !! It is easier to get to China / Far East from the US than Europe.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ Malcmcleod1408.
    Thank you for pointing out the obvious flaw in my thoughts. My defence is that i had just got up after a night shift and wasnt on full cylinders. I missed a relevant part out of my reasoning and that was to award points in each event consistent with the players finishing position in each tournament. ie. 100 points for first down to 1 point for 100th place : second tournamment 70 points for first down to 1 for 70th : 3rd would be 30 points 1st 1 point 30th. The final Tour Championship can still be won by any of the 30 players but only the most consistant a best players would win the Fedex.
    As you pointed out someone finishing 1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd would then get 229 points. someone finshing 100th, 70th, 30th and 1st. would get 33 points but be the Coca Cola Tour Champion (other fizzy drinks available) as thats the name of the event.

  • Comment number 55.

    BTW. I am loving the Fedex this year for the standard of Golf and the beginning of what i hope will be a great rivalry for years to come with Rors and Tiger.

  • Comment number 56.

    #48 Merely your opinion that it is a political stunt. My opinion is that because Real Madrid are one of the biggest sporting clubs on the planet, the government may have a vested interest in the club... as an asset to the economy. Was the Andalucian Masters as important to Spain as Real Madrid? Doubt it. (ps I am a Barca fan)

  • Comment number 57.


    1 T Woods
    2 E Els
    3 J Dufner

  • Comment number 58.

    I'd give Lee a bit of respect for moving to the states. He's been criticised for a while (myself included), but he's been an ambassador for the ET. He still Is arguably one of the best 'tee-to-green' players out there, maybe he's missed the chance to win a major, who knows!?
    Let's see what the guy does, in what is 'essentially' the swan song of his career. Yes he's always been put down about his wins (weaker fields!?), but the guy has stuck true to the ET throughout his career. Luuuuuke, Justin have always 'predominantley' played on the PGA tour.
    Maybe he just wants to have a settled place;Florida ....Practice all year long, decent weather and commit to the States for a while. Good luck to the lad.

  • Comment number 59.

    Picks for The Tour Championship are predictably.
    Tiger Woods
    Rory McIlroy
    Lee Westwood.

  • Comment number 60.

    Jimmy (and Wibbly), here are my picks:

    Zach Johnson
    Adam Scott

    Please note:

    a) no copying!
    b) this will be remembered as the post that finally buried the pretender to the crown, Wibblious Wobblious

  • Comment number 61.

    #50 golfrants
    I think what you just said is complete nonsense. I am purely dealing in facts...anyone that is on this blog regularly knows I deal in FACTS.

    Lee has played over a hundred events on the PGA tour in his career and has 2 wins. What does that tell you?

    It tells you that A) he is out of his league and B) that he is not a big game player

    When he goes to Asia where he is the only player in the top 50 of the rankings playing and wins...thats where he got all his world ranking points from.

  • Comment number 62.

    #61 Hahahahaha - jamesmathew, I normally try to ignore you but you have given me a huge laugh.

    Obviously, I can't speak for anyone else (unlike you apparently), but you almost never deal in facts, or completely ignore them (e.g. Luke Donald & Lee Westwood having been World #1).

    Slipping in the odd fact every hundred posts or so does not make you a factmeister.

  • Comment number 63.

    #62, 84641 - I know it's tough. It's like trying not to scratch when you have ezcema (other dermatological malaises available). But, at the risk of mixing my metaphors, try not to bite. Hopefully he will go away eventually

  • Comment number 64.

    "anyone that is on this blog regularly knows I deal in FACTS."

    no you don't but you are a very good fisherman, thats about it.

  • Comment number 65.

    All I ask is that you dont let the contents of my past posts cloud what Im saying here and please read it with an open mind.

    Lee Westwood was world number 1...but in the 2 years leading up to becoming number one he won twice in Indonesian, once in Thailand, once in South Africa and once in Europe.

    Now none of these fields contained more then 2 or 3 of the top 10 players in the world...and these 5 wins against B class fields got him the same world ranking points as 3 wins on the PGA tour! Yet he has only won twice in 20 years on the PGA tour.

    Lee found a loop hole...a back door if you will...of becoming world number one and he made a lot of money off the back off that. He couldn't do it the proper tough he took the easy route and it worked out great for him. But look at him now...and in reality he is probably just inside the top 10 in the world.

    Now he is in the US...his weaknesses will be exposed.

  • Comment number 66.

    #65 jamesmathew, is that the same US where he has finished fifth, thirteenth and second in the last three weeks in ultra high-quality fields? Poor old Lee, he's in _real_ trouble.

  • Comment number 67.

    # 65

    I am taking everything you say with an open mind. However can you do one thing for a change and answer a direct question please.

    Given your troucning of LEe's abilities to compete on PGA tour and in USA in general, could you please, after stating "in reality he is probably just inside the top 10 in the world", explain to us all, how LW is #8 in Fed Ex Cup?

    Furthermore, everyone above him has played more events than him, only Mcilroy has a better top 10 %, and points/tournament he would be 2nd behind Rory

    so if we take all these FACTS into account, we can only assume that when Lee plays 20+ tournaments on PGA tour he will rise back to top of rankings

  • Comment number 68.

    I was not going to enter the kick the idiot debate but hey everyone else is so rude not to join in. Lee found a loophole to become number one,er no he across the two years when he became number one he amassed the most ranking points. During the same period he probably from memory was the most consisstent performer in the majors ( not a big tournament player?). He won the sun city event that was an invitational containing players as poor as Ernie, Reteif, Schwartzel all major winners so not really that bad at the game. Also whilst blowing away such poor fields was shooting some really poor scores in the low 60's so played some awful golf and lucked out maybe.
    As for these weaknesses that will be exposed at the end of next year when he has performed then state your case based on fact not the fiction and drivel you seem to dream up consisstantly ( which is a fact) Otherwise jog on and lick the windows of your secure unit.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm not sure Lee will ever recover from such a pasting from jamesmathew... he (LW) is a regular reader of the blog as we know (from Bilo) and in advance of the weekend's play-off he will have suffered an immeasurable blow to his confidence.
    In lieu of an apology from JM, I will throw my support behind Lee and the letter W for the weekend...
    Woods, Watson Bubba and Westwood.

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm guessing the blog will close tonight as it was originally posted on Sunday, so I'd better get my picks in. Let's be uber-boring and go for McIlroy, Woods and Dustin Johnson.

  • Comment number 71.

    I see a lot of people are picking Lee W to win this week :-)

    Wisely no one has picked him.

    I'm not saying hes a bad player...he's what we call a top 10 man...always around the top 10...but rarely wins. (2 wins in 20 years playing PGA tour)


  • Comment number 72.

    my names james matthew and i never answer a question

    Westwood, Westwood, Westwood

  • Comment number 73.

    Im sorry if I deal in facts...and ye guys dont want to hear it. but 60+ majors played with ZERO wins tells me he is not a big time player. Coming 2nd and 5th and 10th in big events doesn't make someone a big time player...not unless they win one.

  • Comment number 74.

    still not answering the question James - if you get time that is between your nonsensical ramblings which I have stopped reading.

    In your own time.....

  • Comment number 75.

    Yorkshire "in reality he is probably just inside the top 10 in the world", explain to us all, how LW is #8 in Fed Ex Cup?"

    My answer is that I said he was he was just inside the top 10 in the world ability wise...and he is 8th in the FedEx and he is 11th is the race to Dubai.
    What answer are you looking for?

    If he was truely world number 2\3 you tell me this...why is he 8th and 11th?

  • Comment number 76.

    he is ranked 8th because he has played fewer events than anyone else in the top ten

    as I said, average the points out he would be second.

    do you not understand or are you blind?

  • Comment number 77.

    York york york...that my friend is what you call an excuse!

    In Europe he has played more tournaments then Rose and McIlory and they are 1st and 2nd...yet he is 11th....and he has played 1 event less then McIlory in the US...where McIlory is 1st and he is 8th.

    Stop making excuses for him..he is still a great player...just not world class.

  • Comment number 78.

    so as you have lost the PGA argument, which is what you were talking about, not the ET, you have decided to create an argument about ET!!

    and in doing so contradicted yourself!!

    if he was a better poor-tournament player as you imply, why is he doing better on PGA tour than on ET??? maybe he has taken heed of your advice and seen as though hes better on PGA tournaments hes moving there full time to improve.

    and if he plays more tournaments and accrues more points he will be further up.

    your arguments are stupid dear little boy.

    you must sit and take your fingers out of your nose too quickly and start typing before you have poked your brain back up there.

  • Comment number 79.

    Guys, you all know me as a big fan of Lee Westwood. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a bigger supporter but you do have to see jamesmathew's point to a certain extent. While i feel he is obsessed with pointing out these facts constantly the simple fact is Lee does not perform/win when surrounded by the best fields in the best tournaments.

  • Comment number 80.

    York "if he was a better poor-tournament player as you imply, why is he doing better on PGA tour than on ET?"

    Is he? last time I check he has 1 win on the PGA tour in the last 14 years!
    If you call that improvement they you have lower expectations for our Lee then I do.

  • Comment number 81.


    Finally someone who can see the woods from the trees.

  • Comment number 82.

    Sparticus I think James has got himself into a muddle because I know I personally, and I cant recall seeing others, claim LW is better than Rory or TW or phil or up there in the same class as them

    however his arguments don't match his beloved FACTS

    he argues now he has moved to US to play more on PGA tour he will will be found wanting and his weaknesses will be exposed, whereas his Fed Ex ranking shows otherwise considering he has played less tournaments than anyone else.

    James cant seem to get around this for whatever reason only he knows

  • Comment number 83.

    Y_B - it's probably not worth arguing. You know the old adage about arguing with an idiot.

    jamesmathew's argument about Westwood is based almost entirely on the premise that you have to have won a major to be a good, or 'big time', player. If I'm not mistaken he has used the same argument against Luke Donald too. Everything he posts on this topic (which, if you've noticed, he will return to irrespective of the actual topic of the blog) is centred around this flawed argument and until/unless he actually bothers to learn something about golf then he will persist.

    There are only three reasons why anyone would flog a dead horse to the extent that he does, either (a) to wind people up, (b) because their knowledge of golf is very limited and (c) a lack of intelligence. In this case it's probably all three

  • Comment number 84.


    I am not the type to nibble, however sometimes it helps to let him rant on a bit because it allows everyone to see the various contradictions and flaws in his argument.

    Agree though, a selection of all 3.

    In other news im playing here at the weekend:

  • Comment number 85.

    @York and BMG

    My arguement is not that you have to have won a major to be a big game just have to win a tournament now and again that has the best players in the world. Lee has NEVER won a tournament that had the best players in the world....not even one. If you think he did then please research it and check the field because you wont find the woods and Mickelsons of the world playing it.

    So my arguement is simply...he got to number one by never winning a big event...he got there by winning lots of B class events with weak fields.

    That my friend .... is a FACT.

  • Comment number 86.

    YB do you need a caddie?

  • Comment number 87.


    would love a caddy however such is the climb between greens and tees buggys are a must !! The french national rugby team train here, as do Catalan Dragons Rugby league team on occasion - the pitch is on the driving range - furthest set of posts are at 200yds so great fun trying to hit through them!!

    James - your premise is that you have to win a load of tournaments to be world no.1, but it isn't necessarily the case - you are clouded by the disproportionate era of Tiger Woods when he won 6+ times a year to retain his no.1 spot

    whereas what LD and LW have done in the mean time is be consistent, LD won both money lists for plonks sake!

    I agree LW is not currently worthy of no.1 spot but he got their through world class consistency. would you rather have shaun micheels career or LW's?

  • Comment number 88.

    YB if you were paying i could be a Fore-caddie.

  • Comment number 89.

    York your missing my point. I dont think you need "to win a load of tournaments" to prove you are world class....but you do need to win some....and unfortunately with all the talent Lee has...he has no significant win throughout his whole career and I think its a shame because of his exceptional talent.

  • Comment number 90.

    Jimmy, posts for this weekend:


    Just to let you know...last week the blog closed early so I had to post my picks in the Women's British Open blog at Hoylake. I did get them in before the Italian Open started too...

  • Comment number 91.

    @ Jamesmathew "...just not world class"

    errrrrr Lee has been in the world top 5 for 3 years now and the top ten for four, so what exactly does constitute world class in your exacting viewpoint?

  • Comment number 92.

    Jm the only point you seem to make is pointless in fact I would liken you to a broken pencil absolutely pointless. You are a contradiction to yourself only repeating worn out arguments without anything to back it up. Lee came back from the very depths of nearly quitting the game to world number one, this was done by competing and winning and having top ten finishes around the world fact.

  • Comment number 93.

    This is JMs biggest ever catch i cant believe your all still taking the bait. Leave him be it will soon be bedtime.

  • Comment number 94.

    My Predictions for next week

    Jamesmathew will make a boring and irrelevant post about Lee Westwood. I am awarding myself 10 points for this correct prediction.

    I also believe that Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson could perform well this week

  • Comment number 95.

    OK JM you hooked me too, well done:

    "So my arguement is simply...he got to number one by never winning a big event...he got there by winning lots of B class events with weak fields.

    That my friend .... is a FACT."

    Actualy it isn't. 'Big Event', 'B class events' and 'weak fields' are all imprecise terms which completely invalidates the notion that your statement is fact.

    Nice try though. Actually on second thoughts it wasn't.

    Secondly, as YB says, just because Woods won 6 x a year doesn't mean that's the norm for world #1's. In fact, I'm pretty sure a player could get to #1 without winning at all. In theory, you could finish second in every event and as long as everyone else was inconsistent then you'd surely make #1.

    As we've all said, you need a basic understanding of the nature of the game of golf and of the ranking system, and you clearly have neither.

  • Comment number 96.

    I'd love to know if James Matthew can play as good a game as he talks....

  • Comment number 97.

    @gbell. hes probably OK until the windmill.

  • Comment number 98.

    I reckon it's the clown that scares him. I imagine a scene like the one in 'Happy Gilmore' (other golf related films available).

  • Comment number 99.

    Will i get beat this week

  • Comment number 100.



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