Seizing the season: Picking the FedEx Cup playoff champion

By Jason SobelSeptember 12, 2011, 11:30 am

Two events down, two to go before a FedEx Cup champion is crowned. As players set to tackle Cog Hill at this week's BMW Championship and next week's Tour Championship at East Lake, senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel predict who will seize the $10 million ultimate prize.

Luke Donald


Luke Donald. He’s the perfect player to rule over this season. He’s perfect because consistency rules in today’s game. Dominance is dead.

It’s all within reach for the Englishman at the BMW Championship this week. A victory at Cog Hill sets up a giant bounty. He could end this season with the No. 1 world ranking, the FedEx Cup, the Harry Vardon Trophy as the European Tour's Race to Dubai winner and PGA Tour Player-of-the-Year honors.

Nobody’s ever claimed all of those honors in a single season.

It would, in that regard, be one of the most remarkable seasons in the history of the game. Yet, given the huge haul of honors, the record that wins it all could be relatively unremarkable.

Donald can capture all of that booty with just two PGA Tour titles, two European Tour titles and no major championship victories.

No offense intended to Donald, who is evolving into a wonderful player, but the nature of today’s game, with no dominant figure ruling, makes the ability to consistently contend good enough to reign supreme.

Hunter Mahan


With two events remaining in the FedEx Cup playoffs, we still don't know the identity of Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year or even Comeback Player of the Year.

So, what do we know? Well, maybe just Word of the Year, which unequivocally goes to 'parity.'

So far this season, only six players have won multiple titles and none more than twice. Don't get me wrong – I'm not bemoaning such unpredictability – but it's more than a bit unusual.

As the remaining 70 playoff contestants head to Chicago for the BMW Championship this week, it's hard to believe that eight-plus months of parity will suddenly give way to chalk. And so my pick to win the FedEx Cup title is a guy who has enjoyed a decent season, but still has yet to see his game peak – Hunter Mahan.

While I like Mahan's talents and he owns solid records at both Cog Hill and East Lake, I'm choosing him more as a microcosm for the year than anything else. The truth is, I could have just as easily gone with Jason Day, Matt Kuchar or Vijay Singh – each of whom has put himself into contention without winning yet this season.

It's easy to look at the current points standings and expect one of the leading players to take the title, but nothing's come easy this season – especially predictions.

Nick Watney


The free-for-all that has become the 2011 PGA Tour postseason promises to become more structured following this week’s BMW Championship and, based on recent form and historical context, expect Nick Watney to emerge from the current state of competitive confusion.

Although he’s currently seventh on the FedEx Cup points list, some 2,420 points behind front-runner Webb Simpson after finishing the regular season with the points lead, few have been as consistent as the two-time winner this season and even his tie for 61st at TPC Boston comes with a disclaimer.

Watney began the final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship three strokes out of the lead before he took an inexplicable “11” on the par-5 second hole on his way to a closing 80. Still, his nine top-10 finishes this season trails only Luke Donald (11) and he’s missed just three of 19 cuts in 2011.

Watney also has a history of playing his best golf in the fall. Last year, he began the playoffs slowly (T-36 at Barclays and T-33 at Deutsche Bank) but closed with a tie for 15th in Chicago, his best Windy City finish, and a tie for fourth at East Lake.

But most of all, the man they call “Rube” will break free of the playoff pack because he’s one of the circuit’s best putters, long division or otherwise.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.