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.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.