FedEx Cup may be best possible end to season

By Doug FergusonSeptember 27, 2011, 7:54 pm

ATLANTA – This might have been the most compelling golf playoff that hardly anyone saw.

After all the mathematical possibilities had been exhausted, the Tour Championship - and the FedEx Cup - came down to a sudden-death playoff between Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan. The monetary difference between winning and losing was just under $10 million. Haas, with a recent history of folding, hit a shot into the bleachers on the first playoff hole and into the water on the second playoff hole.

He not only survived, he wound up winning.

It was great theater.

And yet the overnight rating on NBC Sports was 1.4, and that’s the kind of math everyone in the TV business understands. On a day filled with football, not many were watching golf.

Does that make the FedEx Cup a failure? By no means.

Players who act as if they don’t care about the FedEx Cup are usually the ones who either didn’t qualify for the playoffs or were eliminated early. Anyone else who thinks the FedEx Cup is contrived drama either is mistaking golf for a team sport or has forgotten what golf looked like before the PGA Tour created this postseason plan.

You think the Tour Championship was a tough sell in late September? How much were people paying attention in early November?

The overnight rating for the final round of Tour Championship on Nov. 5, 2006 - the year before the FedEx Cup came along - was 0.9. To be fair, neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson played that year, which is another problem the FedEx Cup tried to solve, and did.

The year before that, when Bart Bryant won by six shots over Woods, the TV rating was a 2.1. That would amount to roughly a 5 percent decline in ratings each of the last six years, which industry officials say is typical for all sports except the 900-pound gorilla known as the NFL.

No one ever said the FedEx Cup was perfect.

Trouble is, no one has come up with a better solution.

Match play for all the marbles only sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t work for television, it doesn’t work for the fans on site and it doesn’t work for sponsors (who pay the bills and use that week to entertain clients). It barely works once a year in Arizona.

The idea of making the playoffs all or nothing is impractical at best. To start with a clean slate for everyone, at the start of the postseason or after each playoff event, is to render meangingless the first eight months of the season.

Despite all the number-crunching involved at the end, the FedEx Cup is not that hard to understand.

The best players all year long (Luke Donald, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney) and those who win the playoff events (Webb Simpson, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson) will have the best shot at the $10 million and are at least assured of getting to the Tour Championship.

Everyone at the Tour Championship still can win the FedEx Cup, but those at the bottom of the list (Haas was No. 25) need those at the top to have a bad week. Simpson, who was No. 1, finished 22nd. Johnson, who was No. 2, was another shot behind. They had bad weeks.

It would help if NBC Sports were not hung up on a math exhibition during the telecast. Yes, points are the measure. But it’s more about position in the tournament. Donald needed a two-way tie for third. You don’t need a chart or even an abacus to illustrate that. A standard leaderboard will suffice.

Haas didn’t help when he said he didn’t know the playoff would also decide the FedEx Cup. He either was being coy or had a short memory when he added, “I didn’t ask and nobody told me.” In fact, two PGA Tour officials informed him in the scoring trailer that if he got into a playoff, he would be playing for all the cash.

There were so many possibilities in the final hour that eight players were still in the running for the $10 million prize, six of them based on the shots they hit, two of them based on math.

Is it a farce that Simpson could finish 20th and still win the FedEx Cup? No more than when David Duval had to finish 24th at the Tour Championship in 1998 to win the PGA Tour money title, or when Vijay Singh had to finish in a two-way tie for third in 2003 to win the money title.

The Tour Championship never had much drama to begin with. Duval once referred to it as an All-Star game, and that’s about what it was. Most years, Woods had already wrapped up the money title before East Lake.

Now we have a FedEx Cup, which delivers four tournaments of all the best players in the month after the PGA Championship, compared with the old days - a calendar full of events that hardly any of the best played.

For golf fans, what’s not to like about that?

Two years ago, Woods won the FedEx Cup and Mickelson won the Tour Championship. Golf had its two biggest stars on the 18th green, both holding a trophy. A year ago, Jim Furyk got up-and-down from a bunker on the last hole to avoid a playoff with Donald and win both trophies.

This year featured a three-hole playoff, the richest overtime ever in golf.

It doesn’t determine the best player of the year. It’s not a major. And it’s not a Super Bowl. Golf can never be properly compared with other sports, especially team sports.

Tennis doesn’t have a Super Bowl, either.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.