Notes FedExCup Tweaks Masters Prestige

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2008, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Tiger Woods won the FedExCup so handily last year that he skipped the first playoff event and could have stayed home during the TOUR Championship to collect the $10 million prize. He wound up 12,578 points ahead of Steve Stricker.
 
Under the new points structure announced Tuesday, he would have won by only 8,308 points.
 
The PGA TOUR finally tweaked the playoff portion of the FedExCup, and upon quick review, it appears the TOUR achieved its goal of giving more players a chance without making it unfair in those years when Woods doesnt play as well.
 
Using last year as an example, and without getting too involved in math, these are the two improvements.
 
' Woods had a 3,133-point lead over Stricker when he arrived at the TOUR Championship. Under the new system, Woods would have been 1,292 points behind.
 
' It increases from six players to 12 players who would have had a mathematical chance of winning the cup at the TOUR Championship.
 
The effect of these two changes will be some improvement in a players ability to make substantial gains in overall position based on excellent play in the Playoffs, while also increasing the number of players who will have a shot at winning the FedExCup, Finchem said.
 
Woods was the No. 1 seed last year and his points were reset to have a 1,000-point lead over No. 2. Under the new system, his margin will be only 500 points going into the playoff.
 
The other change is to offer 2,000 more points for each player wherever they finish. For example, Rich Beem received 1,613 points for a tie for seventh at The Barclays. This year, a tie for seventh would award 3,613.
 
Finchem said that would help players move up in the standings.
 
RESHUFFLE
Jason Day got the most hype. Dustin Johnson played the best golf.
 
Johnson, a rookie from South Carolina with a powerful swing and cool head, was at the top of the list this week when the PGA TOUR reshuffled its order of Q-school and Nationwide Tour grads based on earnings.
 
Johnson made the cut in all five tournaments he played with two top 10s, including a tie for seventh at Pebble Beach. He earned $446,346, followed by John Merrick, who made most of his $317,580 on a tie for third last week in Mexico.
 
Rounding out the top five were Nicholas Thompson, Day and Y.E. Yang.
 
Johnson started the season ranked No. 34 in the Q-school/Nationwide group. The reshuffle helps these players get in more tournaments. Going into Tuesday, only the top 30 were at the Honda Classic.
 
Even in the era of the FedExCup, the TOUR still uses money for the reshuffle. Expect the Player Advisory Council to discuss later this year whether it should be based on money or points.
 
MASTERS PRESTIGE
The Super Bowl is the biggest event in American sports, but not the most prestigious.
 
According to a Turnkey Sports Poll in January of 800 senior-level sports industry executives, the Masters was voted the most prestigious event, getting 41.8 percent of the vote, compared with 34.8 percent for the Super Bowl. The World Series (6.2 percent) was a distance third.
 
Asked to pick the biggest sporting event, it was no contest. The Super Bowl got 70.1 percent of the vote, dwarfing the Daytona 500, which received just under 7 percent. The Indianapolis 500 came in third (6.2 percent), while the Masters was tied for ninth with the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals with less than one-half percent.
 
We are grateful to be held in such high esteem and will continue to work hard to maintain that position, Masters chairman Billy Payne said.
 
The poll was published last week in the Sports Business Journal.
 
COAST TO COAST
Phil Mickelson captured his 16th title on the West Coast Swing, but that includes Arizona. Tiger Woods still has more victories in their native state of California, winning 12 times (including a U.S. Open and World Golf Championship) to 11 for Lefty.
 
In his adopted state of Florida, Woods also has no peer among active players.
 
He has won 10 times at five tournaments'Bay Hill (four times), Doral (three times), Disney (twice) and The Players Championship. Next on the list is John Huston, who has won five times at four tournaments.
 
Jack Nicklaus still has Woods beat in California (13 wins, including a U.S. Open) and he is tied in Florida with 10 victories. Nicklaus, however, most likely will have one edge over Woods in the Sunshine State. He won a major in Florida, the 1971 PGA Championship at PGA National, which was held in February.
 
No major has been held in Florida since 1987.
 
DIVOTS
The Frys Electronics Open, part of the Fall Series, will move from Arizona to The Institute, a course near San Jose, Calif., which is owned by the company. All invitationals on the PGA TOUR will have at least 120-man fields this year, a 15-player increase for the Memorial. Henrik Stenson birdied the first three holes of his consolation match for a 3-up lead against Justin Leonard, prompting NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller to say, Justin might want to get in a cart and go home. For those keeping score, that would be the second time Miller has suggested that Leonard go home. The other occasion was the 99 Ryder Cup at Brookline. Tiger Woods victory at the Match Play was his first in Arizona, the 15th state in which he has won. Kevin Cook is this years recipient of the USGAs Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for Tommys Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golfs Founding Father and Son.
 
TIME CAPSULE
I think the novelty will probably wear off. -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, five years ago this week, on women competing on the PGA TOUR.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods averages $767,711 every time he plays in a World Golf Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
Its been two years of hell, but were going to fight through it, and I think Butch is the greatest. I think hes going to get me out of it. ' John Daly, on working with Butch Harmon.
 
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”