FedExCup Basks in Tigers Glow

By Brian HewittSeptember 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
The inaugural FedExCup is now in the record books and, forevermore, the name at the top of its list of past winners will be Tiger Woods.
 
The whole idea of the thing was to capture the publics imagination with a golfing version of playoffs. And, for the most part, the FedExCup succeeded. Playoffs in any sport, after all, are designed to identify the best team or player.
 
And of this there can be no debate: Tiger Woods is the best player in the game. He won two of the three Playoff events he entered; he won $10 million dollars in deferred money and $1.26 million dollars now for finishing first in Sundays Playoff-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
 
If, on the other hand, say Robert Allenby had won the FedExCup, there would have been a collective howl from the critics. And make no mistake: the FedExCup had grill rooms full of critics from the outset.
 
Nothing against Allenby. I just picked his name at random from the list of 30 players who made it to East Lake and who are not household names outside of the sport Woods dominates.
 
So once again Tiger saved golf from the slings and arrows of the people who probably wouldnt have been as skeptical if theyd been paying a little closer attention.
 
In Week 1 of the Playoffs too many of those people were focused on the absence of Woods from the field. Too few appreciated the rebirth of Steve Strickers game. When Stricker won at The Barclays he was suddenly, at 40 years of age, golfs feel-good story.
 
The following week Woods showed up and wound up with the same tee time of world No. 2 Phil Mickelson for three of the four rounds. This was by design. Players at the top of the point standings were meant to be going head-to-head.
 
And when Mickelson outdueled Tiger and beat him down the stretch Sunday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the Playoffs actually felt like, well, playoffs.
 
Almost immediately there was another mini-controversy when Mickelson announced he wouldnt be showing up for the third Playoff weeks event in Chicago, the BMW Championship. Mickelson also dropped hints that he was unhappy with PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem for, in Mickelsons opinion, Finchems failure to listen to Mickelsons FedExCup suggestions.
 
And it was all good.
 
Where once people were talking about the FedExCup only in pro shops, they were now beginning to talk about golf playoffs in barber shops and bars and on sports talk radio. The quality of play on the fairways and greens remained high. Woods went low at Cog Hill and grabbed first place in the point standings. But not before having to come from behind on the back nine Sunday to run down Stricker and an improved young Aussie named Aaron Baddeley.
 
Great, Finchem said with masked glee when asked about the quality of the golf and the amount of public dialogue the FedExCup had generated.
 
GreensGate greeted the players when they got to East Lake. An Atlanta heat wave had nearly killed the putting surfaces and officials had no choice but to keep the greens soft. The result was low scores in bunches.
 
Woods needed 64, 63 and 64 in his first three rounds. He played the last six holes of his front nine Friday in 7 under for an outward 28. Zach Johnson parlayed eight birdies and an eagle Saturday into a sizzling 60 that might have been 59 if his approach on the last hadnt found a bunker. Geoff Ogilvy made 10 birdies, shot 62 Saturday and barely got a mention.
 
Sunday was little more than a victory lap for Woods. Tiger won the TOUR Championship by a pile of shots. But you cant blame the Playoffs creators for that.
 
So the FedExCup, which will surely be liberally tweaked in the years to come, is off to a surprisingly quick start. The doomsayers who warned the point standings might be settled before the final 30 got to Atlanta are silent now.
 
Its full speed ahead for golfs new playoffs. And as long as Tiger Woods is at the wheel, there isnt a cop in the sporting world who will ticket them over for going too fast.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry