Notes FedExCup Ideas Philly Fanatics

By Associated PressAugust 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007HARRISON, N.Y. -- Jeff Maggert appears to have put a little more thought into the FedExCup than a lot of his peers. Or, he's simply more willing than most to talk about the format and suggest some major changes.
'I love the concept of the playoffs,' Maggert said Thursday after opening the PGA TOUR's new playoff series with a 5-under 66 in The Barclays. 'I'm not a fan at all of ending the playoffs now. I think they should be at the end of our season. I think a lot of tournaments kind of got the short end of the stick.
'Normally, Greensboro (Wyndham Championship) is a great tournament. It's been a great tournament for 50 years and now they are stuck with a very unfortunate date. ... Maybe we can move some tournaments around a little bit and so the same tournament doesn't get stuck with that date every single year after year.'
Maggert also suggested a rule change that would force players -- notably Tiger Woods -- to play all four FedExCup events or sit. The top-seeded Woods skipped The Barclays to rest and prepare for the last three events.
'I'd like to see Tiger play all four tournaments,' Maggert said. 'I'm sorry he's not here. ... I'd like to see some type of criteria or rule that if you pull out of a tournament, you're pulling out of the playoffs.
'Another thing I would like to see the last tournament, maybe everyone starting equally, because then you eliminate the fact that a guy could win the first three tournaments and the last tournament means nothing.'
When play backed up in the afternoon, Ernie Els took advantage of a lengthy wait on the 10th tee to stop for lunch.
'Walked off nine and I had Angel (Cabrera) and his group on the tee and they were still waiting for the green,' Els said. 'I knew it was going to be at least 15, 20 minutes and I was starting to feel a little shaky.
'They took all of the food away, so the lady was helpful, went back in the kitchen and got me a nice sandwich and I was ready to go again.'
The two-time Westchester winner shot a 65, leaving him two strokes behind leader Rory Sabbatini. Because of the slow play, the late starters began play about 10 minutes after their scheduled tee times.
Ben Curtis is a pioneer of sorts for the FedExCup.
The 2003 British Open champion had the distinction of being the first player to hit a shot in the playoffs, leaving his 5-iron just short of the green on the par-3 first.
'I'm the first,' Curtis said on his way to the tee.
But that's not all.
Curtis was quick to point out that he finished last at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, meaning he was the first to earn FedExCup points (147 of them).
The best of all would be the first to capture the $10 million deferred prize, although a bogey-bogey finish sent him to a 75. He's 110th in the standings, so his goal now is to avoid being one of the first players eliminated.
Gavin Coles became the first player to drop out of the playoffs when he withdrew during the round because of back pain. He entered the week 130th, with the top 120 after The Barclays eligible for the Deutsche Bank next week outside Boston.
Fellow Australian Stephen Leaney, 69th in the standings, withdrew because of a left wrist injury after shooting a 76.
Defending champion Vijay Singh shot a 75, matching the three-time Westchester winner's second-worst score in 51 rounds in the tournament.
The Fijian opened with a 77 in 1996 en route to a 20th-place tie. He also shot first-round 75s in 1999 and 2002. He tied for fifth in 1999 and missed the cut in 2002.
Playing the back nine first in a group with Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson, Singh dropped five strokes in a four-hole stretch -- including a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 14th -- to make the turn at 5 over. He fell to 6 over with a bogey on No. 2, then birdied Nos. 3 and 9 to finish at 4 over.
After his bogey on 16, a young fan rubbed it in as Singh passed by on his way to the 17th tee, saying: 'Nice bogey, Vijay.'
Jim Furyk was goofing around on a rainy Tuesday when he decided to put a new grip on his backup putter, something called 'Super Stroke' that looks as big as the barrel of a baseball bat.
The grip is 1.67 inches in diameter and conforms to USGA regulations.
He used it in the pro-am Wednesday, then gave it a real test Thursday in the first round of The Barclays. He took 30 putts on his way to a 70.
'No promises it will be there tomorrow,' Furyk said. 'I didn't dislike it.'
The idea of the fat grip is for players to not squeeze the grip so tightly, promoting more shoulder movement.
Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk had the largest gallery, with the New York fans again showing their vocal support for Mickelson.
One female fan professed her love for the Californian with a pink T-shirt that said: 'I (heart symbol) Phil.'
'I love coming here,' Mickelson said after his 67. 'I really have always enjoyed playing in the New York area. I love talking football with a lot of people here because everybody is so knowledgeable about sports. It's been really fun.'
For the first time this week, the sun peeked through the clouds early in the afternoon. 'The sun's coming out. Someone take a picture,' Jeff Maggert joked. ... Corey Pavin had the lone eagle of the day on the 321-yard, par-4 10th, holing out from 63 yards. He finished with a 68. ... Davis Love III shot a 69 a week after a kidney stone forced him to skip his title defense in the Wyndham Championship.
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