TOUR Season More Than Just FedExCup

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The PGA TOUR brass must have felt that Vijay Singh smudged the shiny FedExCup trophy.
 
There were so many FedEx executives standing behind the first tee for the opening shot of the 2007 season that you had to wonder if anyone was minding headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. The Golf Channel displayed a clock at the top of the screen to count down the minutes and seconds to when 'the new era in golf' would begin.
 
The first round wasn't even in the books when someone asked Singh what he thought about the new season.
 
'I'm tired of listening to it, you know?' Singh said, speaking for all those who are fed up with the FedExCup.
 
Don't get the idea Singh is opposed to this season-long points competition that eliminates players during a four-tournament bonanza at the end of the year, awards $10 million to the winner and gives players' three months off if they choose.
 
But he put it in perspective better than anyone.
 
'It's a great thing for us to think of when the time comes to think about it,' he said. 'Right now, it's the first event. It's like trying to pick a Presidents Cup team in the beginning of the year. You've got to wait until you get right down to it. If you play well, you don't have to worry about the FedExCup. My desire is to win golf tournaments, and that's what I'm trying to do.'
 
There was an important lesson in this.
 
As much emphasis as the PGA TOUR places on the FedExCup, it is but one component of the golf season. For starters, it still ranks behind four weeks of the year when players truly try to make history at the majors.
 
In other words, Jack Nicklaus never won the FedExCup.
 
The tour has produced a series of commercials (as entertaining as any in sports) emphasizing the historical significance of who will be crowned the first FedExCup champion.
 
The PGA TOUR might find this hard to believe, but the winner of the first FedExCup might not be the question everyone else is asking. What ranks ahead of interest in the FedExCup are questions far more familiar:
 
What will Tiger do this year?
 
Tiger Woods is coming off the kind of season that makes an encore a pretty tough act, with eight victories and two majors. It was the third time he won at least eight times and the second straight year of winning multiple majors, both PGA TOUR records.
 
He starts his season -- and some might argue that golf doesn't start until Woods shows up -- at the Buick Invitational, where he will be going for his seventh consecutive PGA TOUR victory, which would be the second-longest streak in history.
 
Woods' year is built around the majors, though, and it might not be the best rotation for a calendar Grand Slam. He has never seen Oakmont, tied for seventh at Carnoustie in 1999 and has struggled at Southern Hills (tie for 21st at the '96 TOUR Championship, tie for 12th at the 2001 U.S. Open).
 
Who will challenge Tiger?
 
The answer starts with Phil Mickelson, who has not been seen since the closing ceremony at the Ryder Cup, where he went 0-4-1. There is some concern that Lefty will never be the same after making double bogey on the 18th hole to lose the U.S. Open, although Mickelson rarely plays his best golf after June, and it's not like he hasn't dealt with major setbacks before.
 
The key will be the West Coast. He had his best year in the majors in 2004 when he finished out of the top 10 only once the first four months of the season. Of his 29 victories on tour, 18 have come before the Masters.
 
Who will win the majors?
 
As a sage golf observer once said, predictions are a dangerous business in this sport, and it would be throwing darts to pick the winners (although picking Woods means standing a little closer to the board).
 
The most recent winners at the major venues were Mickelson (Augusta National), Ernie Els (Oakmont), Paul Lawrie (Carnoustie) and Retief Goosen (Southern Hills). Not a bad lineup, almost.
 
As mentioned before, it might not be the best rotation for Woods considering the final stop is Southern Hills. But if he's trying to win them all this year, he might have coincidence on his side. The last time Augusta National, Oakmont and Carnoustie held majors the same year was in 1953, when Hogan won all three.
 
The PGA Championship that year was held at Birmingham Country Club in Michigan, where Walter Burkemo beat Felice Torza.
 
Are any young stars on the horizon?
 
Ryan Moore quickly is being forgotten. After perhaps the best year ever by a college player in 2004 (he won nine times), he was slowed by injury that caused him to reconfigure his takeaway, although he still finished 81st on the money list last year.
 
Most of the attention is on Anthony Kim, who left Oklahoma early after a dispute with the coach. In the only two events he played last year, he tied for second in the Texas Open and tied for 16th in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. Then he had to go through all three stages of Q-school, and breezed through each one to earn his card.
 
Is the U.S. really that bad in team play?
 
Coming off three straight losses to Europe in the Ryder Cup, the Americans will try to retain the Presidents Cup in October. Lose this one and it will be the first time since 1998 that it didn't own either cup.
 
One argument for U.S. failure in the Ryder Cup is that it doesn't understand how to play in a team format. The International team at the Presidents Cup is comprised mainly of PGA TOUR regulars. Maybe that explains why it's always close.
 
And finally ....
 
Who will win the FedExCup?
 
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    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.