Top 10 Newsmakers: FedExcitement

By Mercer BaggsDecember 10, 2010, 10:55 am

Top 10 NewsmakersAfter two lackluster campaigns, the FedEx Cup produced a bit of drama in 2009. Thanks to a change in the points system, a player could have won the first three events and still not have captured the $10 million bonus prize. Fair or not, it added excitement until the end, when Tiger Woods won the top prize and Phil Mickelson captured the Tour Championship.

The PGA Tour liked what it saw enough to offer no alterations for 2010. And, again fair or not, it produced four great tournaments with a grand finale.

It began at The Barclays in Paramus, N.J., continued with the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, carried over into the BMW Championship near Chicago, and concluded with a free-for-all at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The Barclays

the Barclays Logo 2007Ernie Els entered the playoffs atop the FedEx Cup standings following a reset of points. Els, however, hadn’t won since March and ultimately finished ninth after four unimpressive performances.

Jim Furyk was third in the initial playoff standings, but nearly dropped out of the picture when his cell phone, which he uses as an alarm clock, died on the eve of the tournament and he missed his pro-am time. Under PGA Tour rules, he was disqualified from the tournament proper.

But the big story leading into the event was Tiger Woods. The two-time FedEx Cup champion began the playoffs 112th in points, with the top 100 advancing to Round 2. Despite a blasé T-12, he still managed to move onto Boston in 65th place.

In the end, it was Matt Kuchar holding The Barclays trophy, along with his two sons, thanks to one clutch shot and two poor putts from Martin Laird.

Laird needed only to two-putt from 25 feet on the final hole of regulation to win his first PGA Tour event. Instead, he ran the first putt 7 feet past and missed the comeback putt for par. On the first hole of sudden death, Kuchar hit a 7-iron from 192 yards out of the rough. The ball ran through the green, caught the back fringe, turned left toward the hole and settled 30 inches away for the winning birdie.

Kuchar, who was arguably the most consistent player of the “regular” season despite not winning, was both victorious and in the mix for Player of the Year.

Deutsche Bank Championship

DeutscheBank Logo 2007The second playoff event saw similarities to the first. There was Chad Campbell, who like Furyk before him, was disqualified. Campbell’s offense – failing to register – knocked him out of the playoffs, though.

There was Woods, who posted a mundane T-11 and managed to stay alive as well as winless.

And there was Phil Mickelson, who for the umpteenth time had a chance to usurp Woods atop the world ranking, but fell flat with a closing 76.

The Deutsche Bank conclusion, however, was quite dissimilar to The Barclays’. There was no playoff, no dramatic final shot. Just a dominating final round by Charley Hoffman.

The mop-topped Californian lit off Labor Day fireworks with a 9-under 62 at TPC Boston to win by five over three others.

Hoffman moved from 59th in the FedEx Cup standings to second. He also locked up a spot in the finale as well as all four majors in 2011, including what will be his first Masters Tournament.

BMW Championship

BMW ChampionshipThe third event of the playoffs will be remembered for two items: Dustin Johnson’s resolve and Tiger Woods’ fall.

For the first time, Woods failed to qualify for the Tour Championship. His tie for 15th left him well outside the cut line for the top 30.

“That’s just the way it is,” Woods said. “I didn’t play well early in the year, and I didn’t play well in the middle of the year.”

Johnson had played well all year. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for a second consecutive season and nearly captured two majors – nearly.

Johnson led by three through 54 holes in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but imploded early in the final round and shot 82. At the PGA Championship, he led by one on the 72nd hole and seemingly made bogey to fall into a three-way playoff. It was determined soon thereafter that he unwittingly grounded his club in a fairway bunker and his 5 was changed to a 7. No playoff, no major title.

There was also no self pity and no loathing. Johnson refused to wallow and instead rebounded for his second victory of the year at Cog Hill.

Playing in the final group, the 26-year-old blasted a monumental tee shot over the trees on the par-4 17th to set up a tap-in birdie for the outright lead. Up one, and just a month removed from being in a similar situation at the PGA, Johnson calmly made par to showcase his grit – and immense talent.

Tour Championship

THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoEven sans Woods, the Tour Championship was full of drama. In addition to the tournament title and FedEx Cup crown being up for grabs, so, too, was the Player of the Year award.

For once, it seemed like the PGA Tour had what it wanted during football season – an ultimate event that would determine a true champion, much like the NFL does with their final game which we aren’t legally allowed to mention by name.

As was the case a year ago, due to the points system, all 30 players in the field had a chance to win the Cup. But this time, five of them held their fate in their hands.

Kuchar, Johnson, Hoffman, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey could win the $10 million bonus with a win in Atlanta.

Kuchar, who was a celebrated amateur at Georgia Tech, held the top spot in the standings and was also among the favorites for Player of the Year, along with Johnson and Masters champion Mickelson.

Then there were a pair of intriguing side stories involving Casey. The Englishman had not been granted a roster spot on the European Ryder Cup team and was dead set on proving to captain Colin Montgomerie that the Scot had made a huge mistake. There was also the matter of winning, which Casey had not done on Tour this year and projections showed that he could fail to win the Tour Championship as well and still claim the FedEx Cup.

Casey gave it a great run, eventually finishing T-4. His performance was better than the four guys in front of him in the standing, Kuchar (T-25), Johnson (T-22), Stricker (T-25) and Hoffman (sixth). But – once again – it wasn’t good enough.

From the shadows emerged Furyk, the man who missed the first playoff event due to a faulty cell phone/alarm clock.

Thanks to an even-par 70 during a demanding third round, Furyk held a one-shot lead entering the final stanza. But because he was 11th in the FedEx Cup standing to start the week, he needed more than to just win the event in order to capture the Cup.

Casey, who was four back through 54 holes, could still finish solo second and win the $10 million bonus. Charley Hoffman, who was five back, could finish alone in third and do the same.

It made for an intriguing final 18 holes, and it wasn’t settled until the final shot.

Within the final hour of play, five people still had a chance to win the Cup. But when Casey bogeyed the 17th and Furyk birdied 15, the latter held a three-stroke lead.

He almost let it slip away however, like sand through his fingers. Furyk bogeyed 16 and 17 to enter the final hole with a one-shot advantage.

On the par-3 18th, Furyk hit his tee shot into the left greenside bunker. With rain steadily falling, and a bogey meaning a sudden-death playoff with Luke Donald, Furyk hit the bunker shot of his life, nearly holing it and landing it to inside 3 feet.

Turning his hat backward to keep the rain from dripping off its bill, Furyk rapped in the par putt and let out his most exuberant fist pump ever. 

'It just hit me,' Furyk said of his reaction. 'I was excited and dropped the putter and ... I don't know. I guess at that moment, you're not really responsible for what happens next.'

There was good cause to celebrate: Furyk won the $1.35 million first-place prize, the $10 million bonus and wrapped up Player of the Year honors with his third win of the season.

He also put a big, flashy bow on what was easily the most exciting PGA Tour Playoffs in its brief four-year existence.

Getty Images

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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.