Its all about the money at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 23, 2009, 1:41 am
 THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 Logo                                                                                                                                                                                              ATLANTA – On an East Lake course that might require a canoe, Padraig Harrington is looking for a wheelbarrow.

The Irishman is not the first player to suggest putting $10 million cash for winning the FedEx Cup on the 18th green to remind everyone what's at stake this week at the Tour Championship. He simply painted the most compelling picture.

'I do believe they should give out the cash on the 18th green,' Harrington said. 'Just sit it there, have a good look at it. We could take it in a wheelbarrow up to the clubhouse. Anything that falls out, it's the caddie's.'

For the moment, that's what the FedEx Cup is all about – money.

The value of the trophy remains a work in progress.

Does it reward the best year?

It did the inaugural season in 2007. Tiger Woods won five times before the playoffs began, skipped the opening playoff event and then turned the FedEx Cup into a coronation with a runner-up at the next tournament and victories in the last two.

That wasn’t the case a year ago, when Harrington had a magical summer by winning consecutive majors and was voted player of the year by every golf organization. Yet because of a volatile points system, he didn’t even make it to the Tour Championship. Vijay Singh got hot at the right time – August – won the first two playoff events and captured the FedEx Cup.

This year has it just about right – maybe.

The top two players are Woods and Steve Stricker, and rightly so. They have the most victories (Woods with six, Stricker with three), yet they only kept their spots at the top of the standings by winning a playoff event.

Next in line is Jim Furyk, steady as ever, although mysteriously winless over the last two years. Even so, he was consistent enough to start the playoffs at No. 16, and good enough when it counted the last three weeks to rise to No. 3. Zach Johnson is No. 4, courtesy of two victories during the regular season and one good week in the playoffs, when he finished fifth at the BMW Championship.

Heath Slocum is No. 5, whom the PGA Tour can tout forever when it says everyone has a chance. Slocum only qualified for the 125-man start of the playoffs by a mere two points, yet he finished atop a world-class leaderboard at The Barclays.

The top five have the best chance because all they have to do is win the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup.

Mathematically, all 30 players East Lake have a chance. The lower they are in the standings, the longer the odds. Too much is made of the points system being confusing. It’s a safe bet that hardly anyone knows how much money Woods has won this year, only that it’s more than anyone else. The same principle applies.

Here’s the simple math:

  • The players who had the best regular season began the playoffs with the best odds of getting to the Tour Championship.
  •  The players who performed the best during the playoffs have the best shot at winning the FedEx Cup.

“It rewards you for playing well in the regular season, and even more for playing well in the playoffs,” Stewart Cink said. “Every tournament is meaningful. So I think it’s good. I think the skeleton that we have right now of the major part of the system will stay in place. There probably will be some major changes, but I think this year is closer to what the intent was when we first started out.”

The FedEx Cup will be decided on an East Lake course that could be more challenging than ever.

The Atlanta area has received about 2 feet of rain over the last week, including nearly 4 inches on Monday when it covered the first fairway with water and closed the course to the 30 players until noon Tuesday.

Salvation comes from a new drainage system and sub-air pumps on the greens that have left them in immaculate shape. Still, officials were still trying to get a lawn mower on the fairway, and it could be a while before they can clip the thick, wet rough. That could make East Lake and its 7,304 yards a beast of a par 70.

Whether the FedEx Cup can be seen as a universal success depends largely on the winner.

Woods’ name on the trophy gives it credibility. Ditto for Stricker, and a case could be made for Johnson, or even Geoff Ogilvy, Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson, all of whom would have won three times this year. The worst-case scenario would be Furyk or Harrington, who could win the FedEx Cup without having won a single tournament this year.

The points have been reset for the Tour Championship to guarantee a compelling a finish. The only problem is that does not guarantee a winner who has played well all year.

Considering how meaningless the Tour Championship was the last two years, that’s not a bad trade.

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.