Punch Shot: Who will win the FedEx Cup?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2013, 12:40 pm

The 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs conclude this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Who will win the $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship? The GolfChannel.com writers make their picks.


By REX HOGGARD

You know the drill. If a player inside the top 5 on the FedEx Cup points list wins this week’s Tour Championship, the cup and cash prizes of $11.4 million are his. It’s simple math and, well ... a contrived reset. But that’s a column for another day.

So it stands to reason that our pick for FedEx Cup champion would go to a member of 2013’s “Big 5” – Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar, who has ranked inside the top 5 since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February, arrives at East Lake fifth in points following a solid, if not understated, playoff run that has included top-25 finishes at The Barclays (T-19), Deutsche Bank Championship (T-4) and BMW Championship (T-24).

Kooch also has plenty of history at East Lake. In 2010, he began the week of the finale first on the points list but struggled to a tie for 25th and watched Jim Furyk win the Tour Championship and clip him by 252 points in the season-ending cash grab.

Last year the Georgia Tech grad, who spent much of his college career practicing at East Lake, finished tied for 10th in Atlanta, but began the week outside the top 15 on the points list and came up short again.

This time, however, it seems the FedEx Cup stars and dollar signs are finally aligning in Kuchar’s favor.


By RYAN LAVNER

Tiger Woods. OK, so the FedEx Cup doesn’t always identify the best player of that particular season. In fact, it rarely does. But here’s thinking Woods will get what he deserves this week in Atlanta. Five wins, a serious contender in two majors, the clear-cut (for now) Player of the Year, Woods will begin the season finale with a 250-point head start in the race to capture golf’s biggest prize. That’s not a huge cushion, given the volatility of the points system, but Woods has traditionally fared well at East Lake. In his last five starts there, he has won once, been runner-up three times, and never finished worse than eighth. He’ll have a reasonable chance of capturing the FedEx Cup with a top-5 finish. Motivated to lock up the Player of the Year award, that shouldn’t be an issue. 


By JASON SOBEL

I'm sticking with Zach Johnson.

That's right – sticking with him. As in, I picked him. To win the whole thing. Before the playoffs started. Even knowing he'd miss the first event for his brother's wedding.

Hey, for a guy hovering around last place in the Golf Channel fantasy standings all year, I've gotta gloat when I get the chance.

Johnson has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet over the last two months. His win at the BMW Championship moved him up to fourth in the FedEx Cup, safely inside that all-important top-five number which controls their own destiny.

Now he'll head to East Lake, a course which totally suits his game and one where he once posted a 60. I'm not sure that he can put together back-to-back wins, but I do think he'll play well enough to hold off the other contenders and win the $10 million grand prize.

Besides, even if I didn't, this is no time to jump off the bandwagon. 


By WILL GRAY

Henrik Stenson. The Swede was my pick to win it all at the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and I see no reason to switch with one week to go. Stenson fell a bit off the radar after struggling at Liberty National but bounced back to win the Deutsche Bank Championship; I’m expecting a similar reversal of fortune from Stenson – and his new driver – after his tie for 33rd at Conway Farms.

Despite a frustrating week that led to him shattering a club in the 72nd fairway, Stenson’s season-long stats are among the best around: first on Tour in GIR percentage, second in total driving, fifth in scoring average. He has been among the best tee-to-green players for much of the summer and has proven time and again his ability to successfully take on fields filled with upper-echelon players.

Entering the week second in the overall standings behind Tiger Woods, Stenson has a myriad of scenarios through which he could leave Atlanta $10 million richer. Though it’s his first start on the difficult layout, that won’t stop the Swede from hoisting the FedEx Cup by Sunday evening to cap what has already been a remarkable comeback season.

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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