FedEx Cup finale great, but has its flaws

By Randall MellSeptember 11, 2012, 5:20 pm

Rory McIlroy can make you forget what is fundamentally wrong with the FedEx Cup playoffs.

He can make you forget how confusing, confounding and exasperating the scoring system can be.

His brilliant play winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship in back-to-back playoff events blinds you to all the FedEx Cup’s imperfections.

He’s the top story in a terrific narrative that may make these playoffs the PGA Tour’s best rendition yet. The leaderboards have been dazzling with the events bringing out the best in so many of the game’s best players.

McIlroy goes to East Lake in Atlanta No. 1 in the FedEx Cup points reset with Tiger Woods No. 2.

What’s not to like about that?

Well, quite possibly, next week’s ending.

While McIlroy can make you forget the flaws in the FedEx Cup system, he also holds the power next week to remind you how potentially unsatisfying the whole thing can be.

If McIlroy doesn’t claim the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot after winning these past two playoff events, a lot of folks will once again question the validity of golf trying to crown a playoff champion.

Of course, there may always be a “can’t win” element to the format for the PGA Tour. While it might be unsatisfying to a lot of folks if McIlroy doesn’t win it all, it would be just as unsatisfying to many if all he had to do to win the FedEx Cup is show up at East Lake. That’s what happened in 2008 when all Vijay Singh had to do is remain upright at the Tour Championship.

By virtually clinching the FedEx Cup before the Tour Championship, Singh sucked all the drama out of the playoff finale.

So the PGA Tour’s brain trust devised a reset of points before the Tour Championship that wouldn’t allow a player to clinch before the final event.

The change added more volatility and uncertainty to the finale. It added more drama. The problem is that the reset also adds some quirky possibilities that threaten the credibility of the playoffs.

For example, it is possible Louis Oosthuizen could finish second at the Tour Championship next week and win the FedEx Cup playoffs without having won a PGA Tour event this year.

How do you think that would go over? McIlroy wins four PGA Tour events this year, two of them playoff events, and he gets beat out by a guy who hasn’t won all year on the PGA Tour?

That possibility is in play if Oosthuizen finishes second at the Tour Championship, and if somebody currently 16th or worse in the FedEx Cup reset wins the Tour Championship. More is required, though. McIlroy would have to finish 10th or worse, Tiger Woods fifth or worse, Nick Watney fourth or worse, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker third or worse with nobody within the top 15 winning the Tour Championship.

This may sound like rain on what has been a wonderful parade so far, but the Tour Championship looms as the potential exclamation point to an entertaining playoff run . . . or a troubling question mark on an unsatisfying conclusion to one.

This is the maddening nature of the FedEx Cup system.

It’s a system so convoluted Bill Haas didn’t know he won the FedEx Cup last year until he saw the PGA Tour was about to hand him two trophies at the end of the Tour Championship.

McIlroy looks deserving of a pair of trophies next week, but there are a number of players who would seem less deserving fully capable of walking away with the big prizes.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: