Punch Shot: Who wins FedEx Cup, who makes U.S. Ryder Cup team?

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 24, 2016, 12:20 pm

It's a big week on the PGA Tour with the start of the playoffs and the conclusion to U.S. Ryder Cup qualifying.

Who will win the FedEx Cup and who, if anyone, will play their way into the top eight and automatically qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team? Our writers answer both questions:


Pick to win the FedEx Cup: If history holds it won’t be Jason Day hoisting the big check and trophy in five weeks at East Lake. Just three times in the nine years since the playoffs were started has the player who began the post-season atop the points list finished the season there – and on two of those occasions that player was Tiger Woods (2007 and ’09). Although Day has had a great year, winning the FedEx Cup is almost as much about timing as it is having the best year, and Henrik Stenson has proven himself adept at a classic playoff peak having won the season-long race in 2013. Expect the Swede to be back in the hunt this post-season.

Who plays their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team: As for the final push to qualify for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, don’t expect any changes to the top 8 after this week’s Barclays. Patrick Reed currently holds down the last qualifying spot at No. 8 and he hasn’t been playing his best golf of late, but the players behind him – J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler – haven’t been in their best form, either. The automatic qualifiers will remain unchanged, which means it will be time for captain Davis Love III to start making the hard decisions on his four picks.


Pick to win the FedEx Cup: Henrik Stenson. Sure, we could play the “hot hand” card here – no one has been better of late, with a pair of wins worldwide this summer and a silver medal – but there’s more to it when it comes to these playoffs. Stenson has a great history at both TPC Boston (a win and a runner-up) and East Lake (a win and a T-2 in his only two appearances) throughout his FedEx Cup career. He’s 14th in the standings entering the postseason, but figures to climb quickly thanks to his red-hot play and reconfigured points structure. Once he’s inside the top 5 for the finale, he’ll be the man to beat at a course that he’s owned in the past.

Who plays their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team: Matt Kuchar (currently No. 11). Is there such a thing as the Olympic bump? We’re about to find out with Kuchar and Justin Rose, who shook up quiet 2016 campaigns with rousing performances in Rio. Kuchar trails fellow Team USA member Patrick Reed by less than $200,000 for the eighth and final qualifying spot, and his tee-to-green precision should be rewarded at penal Bethpage Black. Throw in the Olympics, and Kooch has seven top-10s in his last 11 starts – none of the other Ryder Cup contenders ahead of him in the standings are even close. 


Pick to win the FedEx Cup: I’ll go out on a (small) limb and peg Daniel Berger as the FedEx Cup champion. At No. 22 in the regular-season standings he’s certainly ceding some ground to the frontrunners, but keep in mind that Billy Horschel began the postseason at No. 69 just two years ago and still left with the hardware. Berger already has a win under his belt this year, and he let another golden opportunity slip away in his most recent start when he surrendered the 54-hole lead at the Travelers Championship. Berger is on the fringe of the discussion for Ryder Cup picks entering The Barclays, but as he demonstrated last year he is able to rise to the occasion in the postseason: T-12 finishes at the Deutsche Bank Championship and Tour Championship sandwiched around a runner-up at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms. Last year, Berger used an impressive run through the playoffs to net Rookie of the Year honors. This time, a similar feat might bring with it the final spot on the American roster at Hazeltine. 

Who plays their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team: While Bethpage is certainly the type of burly layout that should suit J.B. Holmes, at the end of the week I believe Holmes will fall just short and the final qualifying spot for the U.S. Ryder Cup will go to Patrick Reed. Reed is in the midst of a busy stretch, playing the fifth of seven straight events in a run that will include 12 of 13 weeks from the U.S. Open through the BMW Championship. But Reed has displayed a knack for playing through similar stretches in the past, and the tantalizing incentive of a Ryder Cup berth will spur him on this week on Long Island. Reed’s lead is less than $31,000 over Holmes, but it’s Holmes who will be feeling the most pressure after three straight missed cuts. Reed, more likely than Holmes to be added as a pick by Davis Love III if he falls to ninth, has had a quietly impressive season that includes nine top-10 finishes. Needing one more big week to clinch a trip to an event he dearly covets, Reed will do enough to keep at bay the likes of Holmes, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar.


Pick to win the FedEx Cup: Jason Day didn’t claim any of the four most coveted prizes this year, getting shut out in the trophy grabs in the majors, but he’s going to take home the biggest bundle of cash this year and put an exclamation mark on another Player of the Year run. It may take the FedEx Cup to tilt favor away from Dustin Johnson in the POY race. After winning three times in the first half of the year, it hasn’t been a bad summer for Day. He was T-8 at the U.S. Open, T-3 at the WGC Bridgestone and made a brilliant run at winning the PGA Championship before finishing T-2. He won a pair of FedEx Cup events last year but didn’t get the big jackpot. He remedies that showing how even more well-rounded his game has become this year. 

Who plays their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team: If J.B. Holmes is going to make the team, he is probably going to have to make it on points. Yes,  he’s only ninth in points now, falling just outside the top eight cutoff this past week, but he’s been going the wrong direction in a hurry. He has missed four of his last five cuts. Still, he’s basically only $31,000 behind Patrick Reed now. He is in the best  position to make this late move. Plus, his career is defined by what he has overcome. He can do this with his big game a match for the big ballpark that is Bethpage Black. 

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.

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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.