FedEx Cup win worth more than $10 million

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2016, 4:29 pm

ATLANTA – Ten-million dollars doesn’t buy as much as it once did.

To be clear, as paydays go, winning the FedEx Cup qualifies as a cash flow boon, even for most of the millionaires who made it to East Lake for this week’s PGA Tour season finale.

The pot of gold – it’s actually a silver cup filled with dollar bills, but that doesn’t paint the same enticing picture – has always been the central theme of the Tour’s playoffs. Through years when the mathematical formulas proved to be mind-numbingly complicated and early indifference from top players threatened to undermine the concept, the big lottery ticket awaiting the winner was always an easy way to sway the conversation back to the competition.

From the early days of the FedEx Cup experiment, there were always 10 million reasons to pay attention, whether you were a player or fan.

This year, however, it’s the championship, not the check, that’s dominating the conversation among the players. For the first time, the winner of the Tour Championship will be crowned on East Lake’s ninth hole, now the 18th after officials reversed the nines for the tournament, and it will probably also be a first that the would-be champion will be focused on something other than their bank account during the award ceremony.

This isn’t a case of millionaires turning their noses up at pocket change. Unlike other professional sports, that much money can still cause a Tour player to sit up and listen.

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“It's still a ridiculous amount of money, for a lot of guys in the field, maybe there's a few here, it doesn't change their lives that much,” said Paul Casey, who at fifth on the points list can assure himself the FedEx Cup with a victory. “But for most of the guys in the field, this would be a life-changing victory, and for me, I'm one of those guys.”

The difference this year for the FedEx Cup, which celebrates 10 years this week, is that having your name etched into the cup has taken priority over signing you name on the oversized check.

Maybe it’s a decade of tinkering that’s created a system that the majority of players agree with even if they don’t entirely understand it. Or perhaps it’s a trophy that includes the game’s biggest names, from Tiger Woods (2007 and ’09) to Jordan Spieth (’15). Whatever it is, the onetime curiosity has evolved into a bona fide craving.

“More so than money, I'd much rather have my name on the trophy, and that's just me personally because how much is enough?” said Jason Day, who begins the week fourth on the points list. “We all have money, but I don't have my name on the FedEx Cup trophy, and that's what I really want.”

That’s a long way from the initial thoughts on the season-long cash grab that has nothing to do with the adjusted cost of living rate and everything to do with a desire to play for more than just a paycheck, even one as big as Sunday’s jackpot.

Much like The Players and Presidents Cup, both Tour-owned properties that compete with the game’s biggest events for prestige and attention, the FedEx Cup was always going to suffer by comparison.

For years, The Players has scratched away for “fifth major” status, just as the Presidents Cup has always been challenged to move out of the Ryder Cup’s shadow. But throughout those debates it’s been the players who would decide the relative importance of each event.

The same narrative applies to the FedEx Cup, and on this front the players seem to have an increasingly clear commitment.

“I remember people kind of sneering when we first started this, thinking this is never going to be as important as a major, and now you hear guys talking about it as if it's a fifth major, as something that is that important,” said Brandt Snedeker, the winner of the 2012 FedEx Cup.

The most glaring example of this increased attention came on Tuesday when Jordan Spieth, who is seventh on the points list, was asked if he knew the various scenarios that would allow him to win the FedEx Cup.

“Dustin [Johnson] can't finish in a two-way tie, second or better, and Patrick [Reed] can't finish solo second,” Spieth explained to a slightly stunned audience. “I told you guys I knew.”

It was an uncharacteristic nod, for all players not just Spieth, to the importance of these last four events that the normally process-driven athletes allow something other than the next shot into the decision making.

It’s not that inflation or indifference has robbed $10 million of its luster, it’s just that the FedEx Cup, which has always been a work in progress, has evolved into more than just a collection of zeros. A $10 million payday can buy a lot, but not competitive relevance. Only a decade of trial and error can do that.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.