Eye on the $10 million prize

By Doug FergusonSeptember 21, 2011, 9:08 pm

ATLANTA – Just being among the 30 players at the Tour Championship should be enough for Geoff Ogilvy.

Only 16 days ago, Ogilvy was on the verge of being eliminated from the FedEx Cup playoffs. Needing a par-birdie finish at the TPC Boston, his tee shot on the 17th hole finished in a crevice behind a rock and he had to take a penalty drop.

What followed is still hard to fathom.

Ogilvy rolled in a 20-footer for par, then holed a 6-foot birdie putt to narrowly advance to the next playoff event outside Chicago. Then, he finished alone in third at Cog Hill – a two-way tie for third would not have been enough – to book a trip to East Lake.

“I definitely wasn’t thinking of being here when I was in that hole,” Ogilvy said Wednesday. “So the fact that I am is pretty nice.”

He is No. 24 among the 30 players who reached the Tour Championship, and while mathematically they all have a shot at the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup, the higher seeds have the greater odds.

Webb Simpson is the top seed, followed by Dustin JohnsonJustin Rose, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar. If any of them win, they are assured golf’s richest prize.

Ogilvy’s hopes require a little more math. It starts with him winning, and the odds got even longer the more he studied the other scenarios that must unfold.

“Webb Simpson must finish 17th or worse, which is probably not going to happen, you wouldn’t think,” he said, reading from a chart. “Dustin Johnson has to finish sixth or worse. Justin and Luke have to finish fourth or worse, which isn’t going to happen because Luke doesn’t finish out of the top three anymore, does he?”

That’s when he shifted to a prize that might be just as meaningful.

“I’d love to win this golf tournament,” Ogilvy said. “That would be nice because people are forgetting this one of the tour’s special golf tournaments – The Players Championship, the Tour Championship, the Tournament of Champions. It’s still the Tour Championship, and it would be pretty special to have a Tour Championship on your mantle.

“I guess I’ll view it like that and try to win,” he said. “And if the right things happen, that would be great.”

The FedEx Cup is finishing up its fifth year, and while some promotional bluster created more skeptics than supporters in the early going, it is hard to find fault with what the playoffs have produced – four straight tournaments with the strongest fields, with only the best walking away with the $10 million prize. Tiger Woods has won twice, with Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk the other cup champions.

“I think the system has been validated because it’s had the biggest names in golf as its champions,” Kuchar said.

The leading five candidates this year all are among the top 20 in the world, including top-ranked Donald.

There is reason for others to hope, however, and all that requires is a chat with Nick Watney.

A year ago, Watney narrowly got into the Tour Championship at No. 28 and was 12 shots behind going into the weekend. In the final hour, he was one shot off the lead and had a legitimate chance to win the FedEx Cup until a bogey on the 16th hole.

“I was thinking I had no chance,” Watney said. “Kuchar was leading the FedEx Cup, and he was playing so consistently. They said I had to win and he had to finish worse than 25th or something. There were so many mathematical scenarios. It was like the BCS.”

His message for the guys ranked toward the bottom of the FedEx Cup list was to think about winning – not the FedEx Cup, but a season-ending tournament that still packs some prestige.

“I think that big crystal with the dude on it is pretty special,” Watney said of the Tour Championship trophy. “The FedEx Cup is great, but I mean, there’s a lot to be said for that trophy. It gets lost in this sometimes, at least pre-tournament.”

And that’s from a guy who is No. 7 this year and has a far better chance at $10 million.

Kuchar is the only player who mathematically could capture the FedEx Cup without having won a tournament this year. That nearly happened last year with Paul Casey until he faded over the last few holes.

Adam Scott is No. 19 and thinking about only one trophy – the crystal one with the dude on it.

“It’s just a tournament for me,” Scott said when asked about his chances in the FedEx Cup. “If I go home to Australia next week being a winner at a World Golf Championship (Firestone) and the Tour Championship, I’ll be pretty proud of my year. I’m so far back, I can’t concern myself with money. But I can win the tournament. There’s only 30 guys.”

That might not be bad advice for the guys who do have better odds in the FedEx Cup.

“If you think about money, then you’re not thinking about golf,” Scott said.

Simpson has won two of his last four tournaments, and the fact one of them was a playoff event (Deutsche Bank) is the reason he comes into East Lake as the No. 1 seed. This is his first trip to the Tour Championship, and if none of the top six seeds win, whoever has the highest finish is likely to go home very rich. Or much richer.

“It’s hard not to think about where you stand and the money that comes with playing well from FedEx,” Simpson said. “That being said, we want to focus that much more on the golf course and the conditions we’re going to face, because we feel like the more we can get lost in the golf course and not think about where we’re going to end up in the FedEx Cup, the better we’ll play.”

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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