FedEx Cup Delivers

By Rex HoggardOctober 1, 2009, 5:13 am

It is what it is

PGA Tour players, when pressed for an answer or cornered by an uncomfortable question, will freefall into its safe confines without hesitation. Urban legend has it that Tommy Armour III first coined the phrase in golf circles, although it has a Casey Stengel “it’s-not-over-’til-it’s-over” feel to it.

Either way, it’s become a crutch for Tour players and an occupational hazard for those who write about them.

“It is what it is,” Woods shrugged late Sunday after collecting his second FedEx Cup crown in three years at East Lake.

As platitudes go “it is what it is” is at least creative and, as it applies to the circuit’s third-year playoff experiment, about as good a summation as one will find this side of MIT.

At worst, the playoffs are mislabeled, contrived, vilified and destined to play supporting actor roles to the game’s grand four top and whatever cup is keeping time in the fall.

The last four events are no more playoffs than baseball’s All-Star Game is a tilt of any consequence.

Yet when Tour commissioner Tim Finchem climbed aboard Air Ponte Vedra Beach for the short hop to Atlanta last week the list of desirable outcomes in his hope chest were limited to – a Tiger Woods victory, computer-induced Sunday drama and a long-awaited smooch for the FedEx Cup.

Check, check and . . . well, two out of three isn’t bad.

Turns out he should have aimed a little higher.

One does not count on Woods and Phil Mickelson mugging for the cameras on the same Sunday stage apart from that awkward green jacket ceremony a few years back at Augusta National and the occasional team gathering. Yet there they were on a crisp fall afternoon at East Lake, side-by-side without mediator or caddie between them, basking in victory.

Things could have been worst. A Heath Slocum victory comes to mind, followed closely by an impromptu putting lesson for Mickelson from Sergio Garcia or a last-minute Woods withdrawal citing fatigue, lack of interest and brutal traffic in metro Atlanta.

This was not a defining moment for the sport, not a benchmark by which future Cups will be measured, not a reason to delay drafting your fantasy football teams next fall. As TA-III would say, it is what it is.

And what it is is a vast improvement over the last decade of Tour Championships. Every Tour player should pencil in Woods’ name for Comeback Player of the Year, but that is a soapbox for another day, yet if there is another reclamation project worthy of the award it is the FedEx Cup.

Four tournaments with the game’s top players, four major markets neatly brought to closure with golf’s two biggest sticks sharing the same stage. If the FedEx Cup is wrong, we don’t want to be right.

That’s not to say the system is perfect, and Ponte Vedra Beach will tinker with the current playoff format because it is what Ponte Vedra Beach does.

Among some of the “to do” items Finchem & Co. will look at in the winter:

New math. Not that there was anything wrong with the old math, at least nothing a little simplicity can’t fix, but there were flaws the circuit’s eggheads will try to work around.

Numbers crunchers discovered that Woods could have won all four majors, the first three playoff events and the Nobel Peace Prize and still could have lost the FedEx Cup to the hot-handed likes of Slocum or Jim Furyk or Zach Johnson or Steve Stricker at East Lake.

The same math wizards calculated that Woods could have just as easily skipped the first three playoff events, entered the Tour Championship seeded no lower than fourth based on his season-long performance and would have still won the FedEx Cup.

“You can play well, you can win 20 events throughout the year, and reset and it's a certain number,” Woods said. “It's very similar to what they do with NASCAR, what they try to do with playoffs in other sports. It's just kind of our version.”

Spacing. Woods played eight of the last 10 weeks heading into the Tour Championship and next year things get even tighter with the Ryder Cup being played in Wales the week after the Tour Championship.

There is a “bye” week that fell after the BMW Championship this year. Some players wanted the off week shifted to after the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends on Monday, but that will likely wait until after next year’s Ryder Cup.

“You probably don't want to go two, week off, then three in a row, with the last one being the Ryder Cup overseas,” Woods said. “Granted, we could have the Europeans play in this thing and wear them out, too.”

Contraction. Once a dirty word in all of sports, most leagues have come to terms with the economic reality with too many widgets and not enough widget buyers. Every sports league, that is, except the Tour.

Finchem drew a line in the sand trap last week, saying there were no plans to reduce purses, but the current economic environment may force the Tour’s hand. Verizon announced this week it will not renew its contract to sponsor the Heritage in South Carolina after 2010 and all total 11 title and presenting sponsors have contracts that are up at the end of ’10.

The fix is simple. Let economic Darwinism thin the herd by three or four events, start the season a week later than normal to avoid the Super Bowl shadow and move the start of the playoffs up a week or two to avoid head-to-head competition with the start of the NFL season.

This is, of course, just window dressing to the bigger picture. For all the flaws – either real or tweeted – the FedEx Cup delivered in form if not function. It may not be a playoff, but it is what it is, and that’s not too bad.


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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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm