FedEx Cup trying its best to deliver the goods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2009, 2:56 am

THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA – The sign along Glenwood Avenue says it all, “Welcome to the playoff finale,” with the subtle trace of something special left unspoken but thick in the humid Georgia air.

The only thing that’s missing from the sign adjacent East Lake Golf Club is the tag, “Brought to you by the same folks who gave us the Pythagorean theorem, Mensa and Rubik’s Cube.”

Where Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and an army of PGA Tour lawyers had failed, the eggheads delivered. Where 2007 and 2008 were sleepy coronations, pit stops for most on the way to silly and off seasons, the most recent edition of the Tour’s big finish suggests a competition spiced with a dollop of anticipation.

As well as Woods played last we saw him on the Southside of Chicago, it would take some grand odds and a strong gut not to bet the kids’ college fund on the world No. 1 to win this week’s Tour Championship and that $10 million, FedEx Cup side action.

But stranger things have happened (see Y.E. Yang, Heath Slocum, Kanye West). And if the right stranger survives a soggy four days at East Lake, speculation becomes a spectacle. As unreasonable as all that may sound, it’s Reason 1 why FedEx Cup 3.0 works.

That’s not to say the current system is perfect. Truth is, like the golf swing, there is no perfect when trying to wedge golf’s round peg into sport’s square-holed playoff concept.

If Woods were to win the first three playoff events he could, in theory the detractors say, get back doored by a Jim Furyk, who hasn’t won a Tour event since 2007. It is a mathematical reality born from playoff volatility and a points reset that dramatically narrowed the gap between the 30 would-be kings at East Lake.

Tour types dismiss such logic, pointing to the New England Patriots team that went 18-0 in 2008, but somehow lost the Super Bowl.

“Golf is a little bit different,” Wood said. “You try and have this season-long championship be our big event, but there’s four other ones that are pretty big, too.”

Without being dismissive, Woods’ take cuts to the heart of the issue. Golf already has four Super Bowls played in April, June, July and August and the playoffs will never play-through that foursome. Nor should they even try.

The last four weeks have, however, drawn together the game’s top players, in major markets and added a measure of excitement that hasn’t been seen in these parts since David Toms was wedging his way past Phil Mickelson at the 2001 PGA Championship down the road at Atlanta Athletic Club. And that’s not too bad.

The number crunchers also figured out that Woods could have skipped the first three playoff events and arrived at East Lake the third-seed with a better-than-average chance to haul in his second FedEx Cup with a victory at the finale.

“I’m glad he didn’t,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.

Finchem concedes there is no perfect for golf’s playoff formula. A game that has been defined by the Grand Slams for decades will embrace the Draconian nature of a playoff only reluctantly. And, to the extent that each of the 30 players who tee off on Thursday have a mathematical shot at the grand cash grab, that’s not too bad, either.

“We’re trying to have excitement with lots of possibilities,’ Finchem said. “You’ve got to beat the best, you’ve got to beat them regularly, and you still have to turn right around and perform here.”

And here is where the mathematicians seemed to have gotten the decimals in the right spots. If the stars align properly and the storm clouds leave East Lake to drip dry, a tortured soul could possibly have an $11.3 million putt come Sunday. That’s $10 million for the FedEx Cup, and $1.3 million in walkin’ around money for the Tour Championship haul.

Ask Brandt Snedeker how important it was to earn his spot at East Lake, a mental miscue he made on the 72nd hole at Cog Hill that resulted in an unsightly, and unnatural, four-putt from 12 feet.

“This is what we wanted. We wanted 4 footers to mean something,” a dejected Snedeker said.

And the Tour wanted East Lake to mean something – check and check. For that, Mensa members world wide should rejoice. If this week’s finale doesn’t make math club popular, nothing will.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.