Behind the Scenes at The Barclays

By Kraig KannAugust 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
Truth be told, Im still trying to wrap my arms around this 'Cup.' And believe me, Im not alone. Enthusiastic about something new and the possibility that it could be great? Yes. Perplexed about 'points' and tournament withdrawls? Yes and yes.
On Wednesday at Westchester Country Club I hosted the awards luncheon for the folks at Barclays after the morning pro-am. Good fun and a happy bunch of competitors who had a chance to rub elbows with some of the biggest names in this weeks field.
Open Championship winner Padraig Harrington stopped in for lunch ' with no strings attached - which was impressive. Vijay Singh as well, who ' from my vantage point - looked to tell more than a few good stories and signed more than a couple autographs for youngsters with a strong will and a good Sharpie. And so, too, did Ian Poulter.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem was on hand for a short time, working the room, saying hello and chatting up the weeks first playoff event with those in attendance. He asked me if I was fired up for the event.
My response went something like this ' I actually am. It should be interesting to see how this thing works out.
It was as honest as I could be given some of the questions I have regarding the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
And as many questions as I have, there are also those who in the field who have questions. And plenty of them.
* Jim Furyk compared these playoffs to the NFL where only division winners and two wild cards from each conference make the playoffs as compared to golf where a whopping 144 make it. Do the percentages of the sports make-up of teams/players and golf suddenly seems strange. Hes right. 125 are exempt for next year but 144 make the playoffs? Just asking.
* Vijay Singh said in as many words at his news conference that he was a bit tired of all the hype about the FedExCup. And Im sure he didnt much enjoy the questions about Tigers whereabouts this week.
* Charlie Hoffman and D.J. Trahan were out at a restaurant early this week, sitting at their table and trying to figure out how the points worked and what each would have to do to get to the next event. Trahan is No. 115 and Hoffman is No. 46, which means Trahan needs a good week, and Hoffman will advance to next week regardless of whether he makes the cut. And given that the field is just 70 in Chicago for the BMW Championship in two weeks ' Hoffmans in good shape there, too.
Heres one for you: PGA TOUR models run before the season couldnt find a winner from outside No. 13 on the points list no matter how many times the computer tried to spit one out which doesnt bode well for guys like Hoffman and Trahan anyway - and players know it.
Heck, the St. Louis Cardinals got into the playoffs with the worst record among the playoff teams last year but won the World Series. So shouldnt number 144 in this playoff have a legitimate chance? (If he wins three in a row ' he might)
What I dont understand (yet) is why the fascination with points. Golf has always been about a money list. And why model it after NASCAR anyway? Im no NASCAR expert but in that sport Sunday payouts are quite different than golf. Drivers earn money for laps led and thus a guy who finishes 4th in a race could stand to make much less that a driver who a) won the pole or b) finished 20th but led far more laps than the winner of the race prior to a crash.
Tiger Woods should be rewarded for dominating the PGA TOUR all year. But as much as I see it being similar to a team like the Chicago Bears who ' because of the NFCs best record in 2006 - earned a first-round bye, I still have trouble with his absence. Woods may very well still win this thing.
In talking to players and media members ' who are all equally perplexed at this stage ' I cant help but wish it were just about the money.
So, thinking out loud, and having been bombarded with conversation this week in New York from players and media members and spectators, heres my early wish to tweak things for 2008 ' without this years first run having even reached the weekend.
1. Go ahead and re-set the MONEY after the regular season, giving the regular season money leader a bonus of $2.5 million for his efforts. But give him a head start on the rest of the playoff participants for the four playoff events with $500,000 going to his playoff money total. In other words, Tiger Woods starts at the Barclays with $500,000. To benefit the others in the Top 5 give them each $200,000 and everyone else starts at zero.
2. Top 144 on money list play the Barclays. Top 100 in money play the Deutsche Bank Championship. Top 70 play the BMW and Top 30 play the TOUR Championship. That head start combined with shear talent should allow for the TOURs biggest names to advance to the final event. Money is easier to figure out than points.
3. Player with most money earned after the TOUR Championship wins the FedExCup. Simple as that. But, as has been suggested, lets add some drama on the first tee of the TOUR Championship with a FedEx Ground Truck backing up to the tee and dropping off a stack of $10 million that goes to the winner.
My greatest concern is how Sunday at the TOUR Championship plays out. What if the leader of the FedExCup playoffs is in the 8th group of the tee on Sunday and nowhere near the lead of the tournament? Who gets the airtime? Whats more important ' winning the tournament or the FedExCup?
And what if it comes down to the last hole, and Jim Furyk needs a birdie 3 to win the golf tournament but just a 7 to win the FedExCup? Does he play to win or play not to lose the FedEx Cup?
Things you dont have to think about in the NFL, now do you.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.