Notes Players Talking FedEx Change

By Associated PressNovember 1, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- The FedExCup is still two months from getting started, and players already are talking about possible changes.
One of the topics making the rounds the last few weeks was that the PGA TOUR would continue to reduce the fields after each of its 'playoff' events that lead to the TOUR Championship. Some have asked why it should be called a 'playoff' if no one gets eliminated.
The way it was presented in the summer, 144 players will be part of the first three 'playoff' events -- the Barclays Classic, Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship -- with the top 30 making the TOUR Championship.
'They were talking about shortening the fields,' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. 'The only weird thing to me is 125 people keep their card on TOUR, but there's 144 guys out there. I don't understand.'
Commissioner Tim Finchem said the plan announced this summer would not be changed for the first year.
After the PGA Championship, players will be seeded based on the points they earned. And while points will be offered in the 'playoff' events, the three tournaments still will have 144-man fields until the TOUR Championship.
'There has been some discussion about a half-dozen things already in the draft plan,' Finchem said. 'And in a couple of areas, we went back and thought about it again. But we have determined ... to stay the course with what was presented, because it gets pretty confusing through the first year. And then we probably will make some tweaks.'
The PGA TOUR policy board meets in two weeks, and Finchem said he would not be recommending any changes.
Left undecided is the payment.
Players continue to debate with the $10 million to the winner should be paid up front in a lump sum or be deferred for tax purposes. Finchem said he probably would recommend a compromise for those who finish in the top -- some up front, some deferred.
But just like The Players Championship, where Finchem downplays the money, he said the emphasis on the FedExCup competition would be on who wins the title, not how much goes into the bank.
Gary Player was honored Wednesday with the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a player who shared Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, paid attention to presentation and was involved.
Stewart, a three-time major champion, died seven years ago in a freak plane crash.
'Gary Player represents everything this award stands for,' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said. 'As one of the most traveled athletes in all of sports, Gary's love of the game and thirst for life spread to everyone around him.'
Player won 163 titles worldwide, including nine majors. He is among only five players to have captured the career Grand Slam. Off the course, the Gary Player Foundation has helped to build the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa for more than 500 students.
Previous winners have been Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson in 2000; Ben Crenshaw in 2001; Nick Price in 2002; Tom Watson in 2003; Jay Haas in 2004; and Brad Faxon last year.
Geoff Ogilvy hasn't watched much videotape of his amazing U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot, except for a few highlights. He has yet to replay the entire final round, known as much for Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie making double bogey on the 18th than Ogilvy's par to finish at 5-over 285.
But there's a reason he hasn't watched it.
'It's hard as a golfer to watch a tournament when Johnny Miller is announcing it,' Ogilvy said.
Miller is the golf analyst for NBC Sports, which televises the U.S. Open, and popular among viewer because of his honesty. Ogilvy asked for an example of why players don't like listening to him.
'I walk off the sixth green on Sunday at Winged Foot, and he said, 'Now at least he can tell his grandparents that he led the U.S. Open on Sunday.' As if this guy is gone, he's got no chance,' Ogilvy said. 'Ten minutes later, he saying, 'What a great player.' I know everybody loves him, but you could interview the locker room (and) there's not one guy that likes the way he announces.'
Ogilvy, however, did keep it all in perspective. He acknowledged that Miller is good for the game because people talk about him.
'If it wasn't me or my friends that he was talking about, I would think he's great,' Ogilvy said. 'But it's not great when it's about you.'
Davis Love III and Vijay Singh share the longest streak of qualifying for the TOUR Championship, both finishing in the top 30 on the money list every year since 1995.
But the streak for most starts belongs to Singh. Love had to withdraw in 2004 with a back injury.
When it comes to performance, Singh has no peer. In his 12 times at the TOUR Championship, the Fijian has finished out of the top 10 only two times -- his debut in 1993, and in 2001 when he was 17th.
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.