A New Trophy That Will Have to Wait

By Associated PressJanuary 4, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The PGA TOUR is so fired up about its new FedExCup that it held a reception on the eve of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship to show off the new trophy.

The more tangible trophy -- at least this week -- is stationed near the entrance to the Plantation Course at Kapalua. It's a sports car from the title sponsor that goes to the winner, along with a $1.1 million check and a guarantee of returning to Maui next year.

That much is known.

FedEx Cup
Players in the field in Maui have two trophies on their minds this week.
Everything else about the FedExCup, a season-long points race that begins Thursday, remains somewhat of a mystery.

Points will be distributed at every tournament through Aug. 19, a week after the PGA Championship. The points will be reset for the top 144 players so that no one is too far ahead (Tiger Woods comes to mind), and then players will be gradually eliminated at three 'playoff' tournaments until the top 30 advance to the Tour Championship. Whoever has the most points wins $10 million.

That's the short version.

Questions that remain include whether players will compete more often during the FedExCup season, and there is little evidence of that. Woods and Phil Mickelson both are absent at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and Adam Scott already pulled out of next week's Sony Open to take a vacation. He said he wouldn't play more than his usual 18 or 19 tournaments.

Jim Furyk likes to play a little more, and he'll be playing a lot more than he wants at the end of the year. Because he feels compelled to defend his title at the Canadian Open, Furyk will go from Scotland to Canada to Ohio to Oklahoma in four weeks starting in mid-July, take a week off, then go from New York to Boston to Chicago to Atlanta in another four-week stretch.

That's assuming he plays well, and since Furyk is No. 2 in the world and hasn't finished worse than 20th on the money list the last 10 years that he has been healthy, it's a safe assumption.

'There's probably some events that I've played in the past that I might not be able to this year,' he said. 'Last year I played 24 events, plus the Ryder Cup. So that's 25 events in 10 months and a week. I can't play that same number of events in eight-and-a-half months. It's kind of getting squished.'

Another question is the significance of being the first FedExCup champion.

The PGA Tour is trotting out a series of commercials asking that question, although based on comments from the players, there are four other events that have been around quite a bit longer that still command everyone's attention.

They're called majors.

'The FedExCup is going to be a nice feather in your cap,' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. 'But I don't think there's a golfer in the world who wouldn't rather win a major.'

The biggest question of all is whether anyone is paying attention in the final, climatic weeks of the season.

One reason the PGA Tour revamped its schedule to create the FedExCup was to get golf away from football season. The majors end in August, and the dozen tournaments that followed were dwarfed by the NFL and college football. Then came the Tour Championship, which was similar to an All-Star game until the stars (Woods comes to mind again) didn't show up.

'The season ... after the PGA has kind of been on a gentle, downward slide,' Furyk said. 'And I don't think that's going to be the case, anymore. The PGA is going to end, and the nice thing about the system is it's not like two months later, you try to get everyone revved up again. Everyone is still revved up from the PGA.'

But that's in August. This is January, and 34 players who showed up at Kapalua would like nothing better to start the year with a victory, just as they did with or without a FedExCup.

And that usually means beating Stuart Appleby.

He is the three-time defending champion of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and will try this week to tie a PGA Tour record by winning the same event four straight times. Woods was the last player to do that at the Bay Hill Invitational (2000-2003).

Appleby won in 2004 by building a six-shot lead and holding off a furious charge from Vijay Singh for a one-shot victory. A year later, he let Singh, Ernie Els and a host of others make mistakes on the back nine for another one-shot victory. And last year, he birdied the last hole twice, the second time in a playoff, to beat Singh again.

Appleby has taken 825 shots on the Plantation course the last three years. Singh has taken 829 shots. Those four shots are the difference between one guy driving off with three new sports cars and the other guy taking a shuttle.

Except for playing in Australia during the offseason and not having as much rust as some other players, Appleby can't figure out why he has won nearly half his PGA Tour victories on this island.

'There's nothing typical about this golf course that says I should do well,' he said. 'It's hilly -- I didn't grow up on hilly golf courses. Windy, yes, I'm used to wind. Bermuda (grass), I never grew up on that. I just feel comfortable here. I can play well here, and usually I'm playing well when I come here.'

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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


    Photo Galleries: Best of ...

    Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

    Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

    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.