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Original Issue

The Pepper Mill

AFTER MUCHcriticism, debate and a few changes, the PGA Tour has almost gotten the FedExCup right. With more volatility built into the points awarded during theplayoffs, the first two events (the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank) providedplenty of excitement. Well done. A problem remains, though. A player canperform so well in those two events that he renders the last two (the BMW andthe Tour Championship) nearly valueless. Vijay Singh (left) needs to completeonly four rounds in this week's Tour Championship to take the Cup after winningthe Barclays and the Deutsche Bank and finishing 44th in the BMW. Either morepoints need to be awarded for the final two events (especially the TourChampionship, where only 30 players start) or more emphasis given to top 30finishes during the first three events so more players would have a chance tokeep pace with a front-runner. Close for 2008, and give the cigar (and the Cup)to Vijay.

I DO NOT in anyway disagree with the LPGA's original plan to require all non-English-speakingtour members to learn to speak English—not perfect English, but enough tocommunicate with pro-am participants and conduct an acceptance speech. Thepro-am experience is the very heartbeat of the LPGA, and it's essential that asponsor who is putting up millions of dollars feels connected to its champion.Patti Rizzo (below), a successful LPGA member who decided to play on theJapanese LPGA tour exclusively in the early '90s, learned conversationalJapanese (as she should have), and she was a rock star over there because ofit. While the threat of suspension for not reaching the minimum Englishrequirements may seem harsh, the reality is that many players earn enough tosimply pay up and move on. Time on the range and putting green might seem topay faster and better dividends. Sometimes a penalty has to be serious to getattention. Better English on tour would help fans and sponsors follow andidentify with players, improve the TV experience and bring new events to adepleted schedule. Unfortunately, the way the LPGA tried to implement thepolicy was a disaster. The tour's leaders should have known that a move likethis needed a plan that was bulletproof, well thought out and well presented.They failed on all counts.

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