FedEx Cup Delivered in Ways

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim were eliminated with pars.
 
That left a big chunk of change for Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas to chase ' $4.26 million to the winner of the sudden-death playoff and $2.756 million to the loser, meaning one stroke was worth $1.5 million.
 
Villegas, who was five shots behind with 11 holes to play, wound up winning with a par for his second consecutive victory. So concluded one of the best tournaments all year, certainly the most thrilling Tour Championship since Mike Weir won a four-man playoff over Garcia, Ernie Els and David Toms seven years ago in Houston.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh was the man of The Playoffs, winning the $10 million bonus. (Getty Images)
If only the FedEx Cup could have ended that way.
 
Such a scenario is what made PGA Tour officials salivate when they created this points competition.
 
Imagine four players who move the needle ' heck, the Tour would settle for two of them ' battling on the back nine of the last playoff event with the $10 million prize riding on every drive, every chip, every putt, until it came down to one final shot.
 
Alas, the winner of golfs Super Bowl again spent the fourth quarter running out the clock.
 
The leaders had just made the turn at East Lake when Vijay Singh added his score correctly and signed the card in the right place, his only requirement to capture the FedEx Cup. It was equally anticlimactic last year when Tiger Woods entered the final round with a 13-shot lead on his nearest cup contender.
 
So what does that make the FedEx Cup?
 
A great show.
 
It is easy to bash the FedEx Cup for the blowouts it has delivered the first two years, but whose fault is that? Woods was the No. 1 seed last year, won two consecutive tournaments and tied for second in the other. That should win under any formula.
 
Singh was the No. 7 seed this year and won the first two playoff events, and while Villegas won the last two and tied for third in another, he started the playoffs as the No. 42 seed and missed the cut in the first event at The Barclays. Even using last years points system, Singh would have clinched the FedEx Cup before he arrived at East Lake.
 
More than anything, the FedEx Cup suffers from high expectations.
 
Did anyone really think Woods and Mickelson, Singh and Garcia, or any combination thereof, would come to the back nine of the Tour Championship with the FedEx Cup at stake?
 
That rarely happens in majors, let alone a points race stretched over four straight tournaments. Count how many times heavyweights have slugged it out on the back nine of a major this decade, and you can leave one hand in your pocket.
 
Remember, the points race was but one component of the FedEx Cup.
 
The other was to give golf a more defined conclusion to the season, bringing together the best players over the final month of the season when they otherwise would have shut it down after the majors.
 
Heres what the FedEx Cup delivered:
 
  • Singh, Garcia and Kevin Sutherland in a three-man playoff at The Barclays, where Garcia holed a 30-foot birdie putt, Singh poured in a 25-foot birdie on top of him and then beat the Spaniard on the second extra hole.
     
  • Weir, Villegas, Singh, Garcia, Els and Jim Furyk separated by five shots going into the last round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Singh rolled in three birdie putts of at least 35 feet and closed with a 63.
     
  • Villegas, Furyk and Kim traded blows on the back nine of the BMW Championship, where Villegas earned his first Tour victory.
     
  • Villegas, Mickelson, Kim and Garcia made up the final two groups Sunday at East Lake, and someone wound up with a birdie or a bogey at every hole on the back nine except the par-3 18th in regulation.
     
    A year ago, the playoff events were equally stout.
     
    Steve Stricker birdied four of the last five holes to win for the first time in six years. Deutsche Bank seized on playoff fever with the Mickelson-Woods showdown on Labor Day. Woods needed a record-setting performance at Cog Hill to hold off Stricker and Aaron Baddeley. The worst event was East Lake, an eight-shot victory by Woods, because the greens barely had any grass.
     
    It is hard to find four PGA Tour events with so much name recognition on the leaderboard, let alone four in a row. In that respect, the FedEx Cup is doing just fine.
     
    Now if they can figure out how to make the finish just as compelling.
     
    The points system will be adjusted again. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will direct his mathematicians to create a formula that adds importance each week until the Tour Championship.
     
    Even then, there are no guarantees the Tour Championship will be anything but ceremonial.
     
    Remember, however, the Tour Championship was little more than an All-Star game before the FedEx Cup came along. The only meaningful Tour Championship over the previous dozen years was in 1996, when Tom Lehman won to overtake Mickelson for the money title and ultimately player of the year; and in 2003, when Woods and Singh were in a tight race for those two awards.
     
    No matter how you calculate points, the playoffs for two straight years have featured strong fields and compelling tournaments. Theres nothing wrong with that.
  • 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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.