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Randall's Rant: Keep the playoffs, ditch the points

By Randall MellAugust 28, 2017, 8:15 pm

The FedExCup Playoffs are like one of those ideas Forrest Gump inspired in the 1994 film.

Inexplicable success keeps pouring forth from a head-scratching source.

It’s like that scene where Gump’s face is splashed with mud at a truck stop, and a T-shirt salesman hands Gump a shirt to wipe himself, and Gump turns the mess into a smiley face that makes the salesman millions.

That’s the FedExCup Playoffs

It’s a beautiful mess of an idea.

It’s amazing how the PGA Tour’s postseason has thrived for 11 years in spite of itself, in spite of a convoluted, confusing and confounding points system.

We saw it again Sunday, when Dustin Johnson defeated Jordan Spieth in a terrific duel at The Northern Trust, the opening playoff event. It was great theater, with this postseason giving us meaningful golf we wouldn’t enjoy without the playoffs concept.

You put up a $10 million jackpot, get the best players in the world to compete in a series of individual tournaments played in a traditional format, and you’ve got the foundation for something special. It’s what makes the postseason work in spite of the muddle the points create in the end.

Yes, this is old, trampled down territory, but it’s relevant again with first-year PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan opening the door to change. He would like to improve on the FedExCup playoff idea, if possible. So, now’s the time to propose meaningful changes.


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Where to begin?

Scrap the points formula.

Points are so maddeningly counterintuitive to golf, where par and money are the traditional measuring sticks. It’s not that fans can’t understand the points system. It’s how there are so many maddening possibilities in the fluctuating projections, which only serve to dampen the drama in the end, instead of intensify it.

We’ve learned to try to block out the points in the end, to tune into the golf we understand, where par matters in the individual tournament’s outcome.

Eleven years in, and Bill Haas still owns the defining moment of these playoffs. No, not the moment when he saved par from the water to keep his chances alive at the Tour Championship in 2011. The defining moment is his reaction after he won the FedExCup that year. It’s his confusion seeing the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship trophies being set out in front of him.

“So who won the FedExCup?” Haas asked.

Even Haas didn’t know he won it.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Stanley Cup and the FIFA World Cup were never presented to guys scratching their heads.

So ditch the points.

A better idea lies in what Paul Azinger said about pressure. He said golfers need to know what they’re choking over at the end of an event. As Haas attested, players aren’t choking over FedExCup points at the end of the Tour Championship.

Give us par, Commish, or give us more confusion.

Monahan’s answer, a better playoff system, lies partly in setting up a tried-and-true formula where players know what they’re choking over on a last putt. That means using par to determine who wins the cup.

Use money to determine who gets into these playoffs, and then use par to determine who wins them.

If these really are “playoffs,” everyone starts from scratch once they begin, just like the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball.

Yes, you want to keep the drama building through the playoffs, and reward overall postseason performances, so don’t re-set points. Instead, re-set scores to par. Have two leaderboards in the playoffs, a tournament leaderboard and a FedEx Cup leaderboard, both linked to par. In principle, it’s no different than re-setting points, but a lot easier to comprehend.

It’s tough going, keeping the drama alive through the playoffs and crowning a deserving FedExCup playoff winner. Here’s hoping Monahan can figure out exactly how to do that, because since the FedExCup’s inception in 2007, nobody’s offered a can’t-miss idea.

Another thing, trim these playoffs to three events, as seems already in the works, and disqualify any player who doesn’t compete in all three events.

Mostly, somehow, some way, Mr. Commish, give us par, because with points, “The FedExCup Playoffs are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

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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.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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