Who will win the FedEx Cup?

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 22, 2012, 2:23 pm

The FedEx Cup playoffs begin this week at The Barclays at Bethpage Black. Tiger Woods is atop the points list, with Jason Dufner (skipping the first event) second and Rory McIlroy third. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with whom they believe will win the sixth edition of the playoffs.


Trying to predict a FedEx Cup champion reminds me of an old saying: “You can pick your friends. And you can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”

Amended for the exercise of attempting to call a winner following the upcoming four playoff events, it may instead sound something like this: “You can pick the FedEx Cup. And you can pick a winner. But you can’t pick a FedEx Cup winner.”

With a volatile points system that can see even the lowest-ranked player get hot in a hurry and climb to the top, there are 125 valid choices for the next $10 million jackpot winner. And this year, there are even more variables. Bethpage Black and Crooked Stick, hosts of the first and third playoff events, respectively, have never held regular-season PGA Tour events in the past, only playing host to major championships.

So instead, let’s examine the other two. TPC Boston and East Lake have four common champions since taking their places on the schedule: Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

As a fan of redemption stories, I’m going with Scott to be this year’s FedEx Cup champion. He obviously has been in form this summer and after his collapse at the Open Championship, he is still hungry to get into the winner’s circle.

For a guy who has seen success at half of the venues already, he should own plenty of confidence entering this four-event stretch. You can’t pick a FedEx Cup winner? Well, maybe. But I’m going with Adam Scott anyway.


Rory McIlroy wins it all.

When he won the U.S. Open in a rout last year, who really knew if it would be remembered as a one-off fluke.

When he followed up in another runaway victory at this month's PGA Championship, it was confirmation this is a special talent.

He can and will run away like that again and just might do it with the FedEx Cup.

McIlroy started catching fire at the WGC-Bridgestone, the week before the PGA Championship. The big question now is whether he will have another letdown. It doesn't seem likely, not after this summer's swoon, not after he made it clear how he didn't like commentary on how his game went wayward with his priorities and his love life.

McIlroy is a quick study, and while golf is golf, form comes and goes, look for his best form to create more runaways.


The oddsmakers say your 2012 FedEx Cup champion will be Tiger Woods, while those with a flare for the dramatic lean toward heir apparent Rory McIlroy, fresh from his second major walk-off at the PGA Championship, cashing the $10 million lottery ticket.

History, however, suggests it will be a hot hand, not a household name, that will claim the season-long haul – which is why your correspondent is bullish on Carl Pettersson.

Pettersson fits the mold, if not the image of the modern PGA Tour player. At seventh on the FedEx Cup points list entering this week’s post-season opener at Bethpage he is, by any definition, under the radar. Much like Bill Haas was last year.

Haas began his 2011 playoff run 15th on the points list, kept pace with the pack with solid finishes at the first three post-season stops and got up-and-down from the mud adjacent East Lake’s 17th hole to clip Hunter Mahan and win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.

Truth is, just two of the top 7 on the season-ending 2011 points list began the playoffs inside the top 15; and in 2010 just three of the final top-10 finishers began the post-season inside the top 10.

The Tour calls it a season-long marathon, but it is in fact a four-week sprint. Pettersson may not have the look of a sprinter, but he’s certainly in the right position, and form, to make his move.


For those wary of the FedEx Cup’s complicated points formula, this year finally offers an easy solution to determine the winner. Tiger Woods will win his third playoffs title, and it won’t be for reasons that require a calculator, ruler or encyclopedia. 

Just consider Woods’ track record on this year’s playoff venues. In two trips to Bethpage Black, he won the U.S. Open in 2002 and tied for sixth in the 2009 Open. Sure, those triumphs were with different swings, different bodies and different mental psyches. But there’s no disputing that when the man steps on the tee and looks out over that big, brawny course, he likes what he sees. 

The same goes for TPC Boston: T-2 in 2007, T-11 in both ’09 and ’10. The Tour hasn’t gone to Crooked Stick in more than two decades, so he’s at no disadvantage there, and with the FedEx Cup and Player of the Year honors on the line at East Lake, do you really think he’ll play poorly there? Not a chance. Finally, determining the winner this year requires logic, not strenuous math.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.