Dont Hold Your Breath for FedExCup Changes

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
ATLANTA -- The $10 million had not been deposited into Tiger Woods' retirement account when PGA TOUR officials huddled at headquarters to begin a review of the inaugural FedExCup.
 
Don't hold your breath waiting for changes.
 
The big announcement coming out of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., this week is a drug policy that will begin in 2008, although the tour is moving with great caution. This is something it has to get right the first time.
 
There was always room for error with the FedExCup.
 
Even before K.J. Choi struck the first tee shot of the season at Kapalua, TOUR officials conceded they probably would have to make a few changes that wouldn't be obvious until the FedExCup ran its course.
 
For the most part, they got it right.
 
They wanted the first eight months of the season to be significant, and one only has to look at Rich Beem for the answer. He played some of his best golf when the PGA TOUR Playoffs began, but because he virtually went AWOL from January to the middle of August, he started too far down in the standings to last more than two weeks.
 
They wanted to define a season champion, and Woods won by a mile. Any questions?
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was over the top when he first described the final four events of the FedExCup as 'the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport.'
 
But it showed there was room for compelling golf after the majors, and it was some of the most entertaining golf of the year.
 
Steve Stricker winning at The Barclays might have been the most sentimental victory this year. Boston brought together Woods and Phil Mickelson for three of four rounds, including the final round on Labor Day, with Lefty scoring a rare victory that he considered the most significant this side of a green jacket or Wanamaker Trophy.
 
Woods owned the last two events, shattering scoring records at Cog Hill and East Lake. He played them in a combined 45 under par and sent everyone home wondering -- perhaps dreading -- if his best golf is still to come.
 
Best of all, the meaningful part of the season ended four days before autumn. That's one promise the FedExCup delivered.
 
But that doesn't mean it was perfect.
 
Rory Sabbatini and Mark Calcavecchia were among those who thought everyone should compete in all four playoff events. A top-ranked player skipped each playoff event (Woods, Choi, Mickelson) until the TOUR Championship, when all 30 made their tee times.
 
Woods and Jim Furyk lobbied for starting the playoffs with fewer players.
 
And there was a universal cry for more volatility in the standings each week. Only three players had a realistic chance of winning the FedExCup at the TOUR Championship, and only four guys who started the playoffs in the top 30 didn't make it to East Lake.
 
If those are flaws, they seem easy enough to fix.
 
But each solution carries a potential problem:
 
1. Make everyone play all four events.
 
When asked two years ago about all the stars playing four straight weeks, Finchem said, 'There aren't any guarantees.' There never are in golf, where players set their own schedules. Golf is not about an endurance test. The reason some players go four weeks in a row is because they want to (Vijay Singh) or have to if they want to make up ground for the $10 million prize.
 
Don't get hung up on who's not there. Woods, Mickelson, Choi, Padraig Harrington, Scott Verplank and Ernie Els played three out of four. Everyone else played four times. Find a field that strong after the majors are over.
 
To mandate that everyone should be at all four events is to guarantee Woods goes on a really long vacation.
 
2. Start with fewer players.
 
Furyk offered the most comical assessment by noting that 125 players keep their cards, but 144 players start the playoffs. But the season began with 225 exempt players, so actually only 64 percent made the playoffs.
 
The biggest problem with this solution is that short fields make for dull tournaments and a lousy experience for the fans. Consider the 70-man field at Cog Hill, where an entire day of golf was over in six hours. There has to be consideration given to the tournament and its fan base. Plus, it's harder to win against a larger field.
 
3. More volatility in the standings.
 
Expect this area to be tweaked, mainly by how points are distributed.
 
Some thought anyone who finishes in the top 10, no matter where they are ranked, should advance to the next week. Just about everyone cited Beem, who tied for seventh at Westchester and had to finish no worse than second at Boston to keep going. Was that asking too much? No, because Beem had more than seven months to earn a higher seeding.
 
Even so, the lack of movement took some of the drama away.
 
Arron Oberholser made the biggest move, starting at No. 72 and finishing at No. 34. He tied for 21st at Barclays and tied for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship, then withdrew from Chicago with injury.
 
Camilo Villegas went from No. 52 to No. 24 with a record of T21-T9-T7-T9. Brett Wetterich had only one good week, tying for second in Boston, and that carried him from No. 50 to No. 27.
 
Sabbatini, meanwhile, was the only player to finish in the top 10 in every playoff event. All that did was move him from No. 6. to No. 4. Why so little movement? Because Woods and Mickelson each won, and Stricker moved past him with a victory and a third-place finish.
 
In other words, the best players in golf played some of their best golf in the playoffs.
 
And there's nothing wrong with that.
 
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Turning Stone Championship
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.