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.
 
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.