Steve Stricker can set his sights a little higher

By Doug FergusonSeptember 9, 2009, 1:46 am
BMW Championship 2007 Logo  LEMONT, Ill. – Steve Stricker owns one PGA Tour record that is sure to never be broken. He was voted comeback player of the year in back-to-back seasons, usually awarded to someone who came back from playing poorly.

It has become a running joke with Stricker, so when someone brought up the possibility of a third such honor after he won the Deutsche Bank Championship, it was hard for him to keep a straight face.

“I think I’m over that now,” Stricker said with a grin.

What about PGA Tour player of the year?

Stricker found that funny, too.

“We all know who the guy is out here,” he said.

That would be Tiger Woods, who averages more victories in a year than some players have in their lifetime. Even though Stricker replaced Woods atop the FedEx Cup standings with his birdie-birdie finish to win at the TPC Boston, he knows there are two playoff events remaining before someone kisses the trophy and takes home the $10 million prize. Or at least takes home the money.

Even so, the prospects of Stricker being voted player of the year suddenly has merit. And there’s a good chance that the FedEx Cup could go a long way at the polls.

“The players are voting,” British Open champion Stewart Cink said Tuesday. “And they think it’s important.”

Majors are the most important trophies. No one disputes that outside PGA Tour headquarters. Only three times since the PGA Tour player of the year award began in 1990 has the winner not captured a major that year – Wayne Levi (1990), Greg Norman (1995) and Woods (2003). There were no multiple major winners those years except in 1990, but Nick Faldo was not a PGA Tour member.

“Stricker and Tiger are ahead of everyone right now,” Cink said. “The four of us didn’t do a whole lot. Yang won another tournament, but I would think you’d have to do more than that over the course of the year.”

Woods said two weeks ago that “absolutely” the FedEx Cup could be decisive. Asked to handicap the race at the start of the playoffs, he mentioned the four major champions “and I think my name might be up there, as well.”

Woods has won five times this year and has a $2.3 million lead on the money list, which remains the easiest barometer to understand.

“Playing well at the end of the year in the big events … it can swing votes, because usually guys remember what you’ve done later in the year,” Woods said. “There have been guys that have won three or four tournaments, but they were all at the beginning of the year. Somebody does it all late in the year, then people remember those.”

That might be happening now. U.S. captain Fred Couples said as much Tuesday when talking about possible partners in the Presidents Cup next month in San Francisco.

“They all want to play with Tiger, and now they all want to play with Steve Stricker,” Couples said. “Every text I’m getting is, ‘I want to play with Steve.”’

All this does is make the end of the year even more compelling.

It already was heading in that direction. Consider the last two weeks. Five players came to the 18th tee at The Barclays with a chance to win the tournament, a group that included Woods, Stricker, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els. A week later at the Deutsche Bank Championship, six players had a chance on the final hole, including Harrington and Masters champion Angel Cabrera.

Those who spend too much time poking fun at the FedEx Cup are missing a good show.

Now, there’s an additional element – Woods or Stricker?

First, the FedEx Cup must be decided.

“Whoever is going to win this, whether it be him or me or anybody else, you’re going to have to play some pretty good golf for two more events,” Stricker said. “And it’s going to lead to a lot of excitement.”

Heath Slocum, who won The Barclays and is No. 3 in the standings, said his wife Vicky brought up player of the year as they were driving back to their hotel Monday night.

“She said, ‘Does this put Stricker in the mix?’ And I say, ‘Yeah,”’ Slocum said. “The next two weeks will say a lot about my vote.”

Stricker probably would have to win at least one more tournament. If it’s the Tour Championship, that would give him four victories and the FedEx Cup, and that might be enough.

If neither wins the FedEx Cup, the vote probably goes to Woods, unless a major champion wins the FedEx Cup.

What can’t be ignored, however, is that Woods still has more PGA Tour victories than anyone. He will have won the Vardon Trophy by a bigger margin than Usain Bolt in the 200 meters. He likely will have won the money title, which he still holds dear.

Working against him is his own history. Woods already has won the award nine times. And while five victories this year would be great for anyone else, it has become standard for him.

Woods has had nine seasons of at least five victories. In the last 25 years, only two other players have won five times or more – Nick Price in 1994 and Vijay Singh in 2004.

“It’s not Tiger’s fault, but he’s set the bar so high,” Slocum said.

Slocum had another idea. What if Stricker were to win player of the year, and Woods won comeback player of the year? Remember, Woods missed eight months after reconstructive knee surgery.

“No,” Stricker said. “The guy won with one leg.”

“We all know who the guy is out here,” he said.

That would be Tiger Woods, who averages more victories in a year than some players have in their lifetime. Even though Stricker replaced Woods atop the FedEx Cup standings with his birdie-birdie finish to win at the TPC Boston, he knows there are two playoff events remaining before someone kisses the trophy and takes home the $10 million prize. Or at least takes home the money.

Even so, the prospects of Stricker being voted player of the year suddenly has merit. And there’s a good chance that the FedEx Cup could go a long way at the polls.

“The players are voting,” British Open champion Stewart Cink said Tuesday. “And they think it’s important.”

Majors are the most important trophies. No one disputes that outside PGA Tour headquarters. Only three times since the PGA Tour player of the year award began in 1990 has the winner not captured a major that year—Wayne Levi (1990), Greg Norman (1995) and Woods (2003). There were no multiple major winners those years except in 1990, but Nick Faldo was not a PGA Tour member.

“Stricker and Tiger are ahead of everyone right now,” Cink said. “The four of us didn’t do a whole lot. Yang won another tournament, but I would think you’d have to do more than that over the course of the year.”

Woods said two weeks ago that “absolutely” the FedEx Cup could be decisive. Asked to handicap the race at the start of the playoffs, he mentioned the four major champions “and I think my name might be up there, as well.”

Woods has won five times this year and has a $2.3 million lead on the money list, which remains the easiest barometer to understand.

“Playing well at the end of the year in the big events … it can swing votes, because usually guys remember what you’ve done later in the year,” Woods said. “There have been guys that have won three or four tournaments, but they were all at the beginning of the year. Somebody does it all late in the year, then people remember those.”

That might be happening now. U.S. captain Fred Couples said as much Tuesday when talking about possible partners in the Presidents Cup next month in San Francisco.

“They all want to play with Tiger, and now they all want to play with Steve Stricker,” Couples said. “Every text I’m getting is, ‘I want to play with Steve.”’

All this does is make the end of the year even more compelling.

It already was heading in that direction. Consider the last two weeks. Five players came to the 18th tee at The Barclays with a chance to win the tournament, a group that included Woods, Stricker, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els. A week later at the Deutsche Bank Championship, six players had a chance on the final hole, including Harrington and Masters champion Angel Cabrera.

Those who spend too much time poking fun at the FedEx Cup are missing a good show.

Now, there’s an additional element—Woods or Stricker?

First, the FedEx Cup must be decided.

“Whoever is going to win this, whether it be him or me or anybody else, you’re going to have to play some pretty good golf for two more events,” Stricker said. “And it’s going to lead to a lot of excitement.”

Heath Slocum, who won The Barclays and is No. 3 in the standings, said his wife Vicky brought up player of the year as they were driving back to their hotel Monday night.

“She said, ‘Does this put Stricker in the mix?’ And I say, ‘Yeah,”’ Slocum said. “The next two weeks will say a lot about my vote.”

Stricker probably would have to win at least one more tournament. If it’s the Tour Championship, that would give him four victories and the FedEx Cup, and that might be enough.

If neither wins the FedEx Cup, the vote probably goes to Woods, unless a major champion wins the FedEx Cup.

What can’t be ignored, however, is that Woods still has more PGA Tour victories than anyone. He will have won the Vardon Trophy by a bigger margin than Usain Bolt in the 200 meters. He likely will have won the money title, which he still holds dear.

Working against him is his own history. Woods already has won the award nine times. And while five victories this year would be great for anyone else, it has become standard for him.

Woods has had nine seasons of at least five victories. In the last 25 years, only two other players have won five times or more—Nick Price in 1994 and Vijay Singh in 2004.

“It’s not Tiger’s fault, but he’s set the bar so high,” Slocum said.

Slocum had another idea. What if Stricker were to win player of the year, and Woods won comeback player of the year? Remember, Woods missed eight months after reconstructive knee surgery.

“No,” Stricker said. “The guy won with one leg.”

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.