BMW is most important tournament in FedEx Cup

By Doug FergusonSeptember 5, 2012, 6:49 pm

CARMEL, Ind. – Marc Leishman remembers the nervous feeling as he stood over a short putt on the final hole of the BMW Championship. It was his first time in the FedEx Cup, and the stakes were so enormous that he had a hard time blocking out everything but getting the ball in the cup.

The $10 million bonus? No, that was still a week away.

''I was thinking to myself, 'Hole this putt, and you're in the Masters.' I wasn't thinking about $10 million,'' Leishman said. ''To get into the Tour Championship ... look, the money is awesome, but everything that came with it was better.''

That's what makes the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Crooked Stick, the most important playoff event in the FedEx Cup.

Only the top 30 from the 70-man field advance to the Tour Championship, and they are exempt for the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. That might not be a big deal to Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. But it means everything to players like Leishman, who had never played a major in his life until a tie for second at the 2009 BMW Championship got him into all four of them.

And it's a big deal to someone like William McGirt.

In his second year on the PGA Tour, McGirt secured his card with a runner-up finish in the Canadian Open, and he has improved 35 spots in the playoffs to make it to Crooked Stick. He played in his first major last month at Kiawah Island, an even greater thrill because it was in South Carolina, the state where he lives. McGirt is No. 39 in the FedEx Cup, closer than ever to his goal of getting to East Lake – and beyond.

''It would be nice to have $10 million,'' said McGirt, who has just over $1.7 million in career Tour earnings. ''But I've played in one major. My No. 1 goal is to get to Augusta at some point. I just want to play Augusta. I've been watching that tournament forever. And if I play well next week, we'll see what happens.''

His wife Sarah, expecting their first child in January, was asked if she would rather have $10 million or a trip to Atlanta. She sweetly smiled at the misleading question.

The $10 million will come into view soon enough.

Anyone who plays in the Tour Championship has a mathematical shot at $10 million because the points are reset. The higher a player is on the list, the better the odds. The top five are guaranteed the big bonus simply by winning at East Lake, although everyone in the field now has reason to believe it could be them. A year ago, Bill Haas was No. 25 when a curious chain of events - including Haas saving par with his ball half-submerged in a lake - led to him winning the FedEx Cup.

The idea is to get there. And the final gateway is Crooked Stick, a Pete Dye design north of Indianapolis.

Crooked Stick is best known for John Daly winning the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate, where he introduced his ''grip it and rip it'' approach to golf. The course also has hosted the U.S. Senior Open and the Solheim Cup, but this is the first time in two decades it has had the very best players in the world.

McIlroy, firmly established now as No. 1 in the world after his win last week at TPC Boston, is No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings. He's followed by Barclays winner Nick Watney, Woods, Ryder Cup pick Brandt Snedeker and Louis Oosthuizen.

Far more compelling in the 70-man field are the players trying to crack the top 30.

Jimmy Walker, for example, is at No. 46. He has never played in the Masters, the U.S. Open or the British Open. He missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by one shot this year. And he is four good rounds away from moving into the top 30 and getting into all three of those majors next year.

''From where I'm sitting right now, that's the carrot,'' Walker said. ''Getting there means getting in all the tournaments next year. It really helps, especially for guys in my position not playing in the big events. It will change your whole year.''

Of course, there's still the long odds of winning the $10 million, which comes with a five-year exemption on Tour.

Haas never imagined it would be him last year. All he really thought about was getting into East Lake. He had narrowly missed out in 2010 by finishing No. 31, and last year at the BMW Championship, he was perturbed at blowing a chance to qualify for the Presidents Cup when he shot a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill. He was looking to make enough of an impression at East Lake to be a captain's pick when he saw a video board on the 17th hole in regulation.

''I look up and it says, 'Bill Haas is projected to win the FedEx Cup,''' he said. ''It's the first time I said, 'Oh, wow, maybe there's a little more on the line here.' That made me a little extra nervous.''

He made a bogey on the 18th, wound up in a playoff, saved par from the water two holes later and won on the third extra hole.

This year, Haas is in familiar territory. He won at Riviera in a playoff in February but has gone quiet since then and comes to Crooked Stick at No. 28. There is work left to reach the ultimate destination in the FedEx Cup, which is the Tour Championship.

And he is not the only one who thinks that way.

''This is the biggest one,'' said Pat Perez, who checks in at No. 55 and is somewhat of a long shot to get to East Lake. ''The biggest prize to me is top 30. The $10 million is nice, but it's only for one guy. I'd like to be in the top 30 because then I'm in everything. I'd have a chance to win majors. And that's what you need – a chance.

''If I could never win the FedEx Cup but knew I would be top 30 for the next 10 years? Sign me up.''

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.