Good FedEx Cup Karma

By Rex HoggardSeptember 27, 2010, 3:49 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – Last year’s Tour Championship is best recalled as the perfect storm. The PGA Tour’s best-case scenario with Tiger Woods hoisting FedEx Cup silver after dueling down the Sunday stretch with Phil Mickelson, who lifted crystal at East Lake, the childhood stomping grounds of Bobby Jones who was fittingly born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1902.

But if East Lake had exceeded its luck quotient, the 2010 edition may well be remembered as the year of karma’s great make good, with the cosmic tumblers playing catch up for a bad cell phone alarm and an equally bad captain’s choice.

In order Paul Casey finished tied for fourth, two shots and a little help away from a $10 million jackpot yet buoyed by the fact that despite European captain Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup slight he is indeed one of the world’s best.

Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk not only captured his third victory of 2010, but also clinched the coveted FedEx Cup. (Getty Images)

“I gave it everything I had,” said Casey of his Sunday charge, but he may as well have been talking about his Ryder Cup snub.

So did Jim Furyk, but that’s nothing new. The ultimate grinder, the consummate professional closed with weekend 70s and held off Luke Donald to score the ultimate trifecta – the Tour Championship, his third tilt of 2010, the FedEx Cup and a $10 million mulligan for a missed pro-am tee time and a messy disqualification.

“Three wins is very, very special to me,” said Furyk, who was disqualified from the first playoff event in New Jersey after missing his pro-am tee time, a rule that his since been suspended by the Tour. “I was very disappointed in ’08 and ’09 (not winning). To turn that around and get three wins this year is special.”

For four days that started sweltering and ended with a splat Furyk was, well Furyk. But machine-like is too cold, too calculating to be accurate. There was far too much emotion in his victory celebration on the 72nd green to characterize his performance as simply clinical. But it was, at least statistically.

For the week he was first in putts made distance, a mind-blowing 64 for 67 on putts from 10 feet and in, tied for seventh in fairways hit and first in greens in regulation. Translation, somewhere U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin is smiling.

But of all Furyk’s ShotLink dominance it was his perfection from East Lake’s bunkers that ultimately delivered Tour title No. 16. He was 9 for 9 from the sand, including a 52-foot bunker shot at the last that sailed to 2 feet for a closing par. A $10 million blast, not to belabor the point, to finish bogey-bogey-gritty par.

“We knew we had to make par or play more holes,” Furyk’s caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan said. “And I don’t think I had too many (holes) left in me.”

But then a playoff was just one of a dizzying number of scenarios that covered everything from the FedEx Cup champion to the player of the year.

The Tour wanted East Lake to matter. Instead, minutia mattered, with attention focused on Matt Kuchar’s ability to par the last two holes and finish alone in 25th, of all places.

Kuchar, the points leader heading into East Lake, bogeyed the last from the same bunker that nearly did in Furyk, Nick Watney cooled following a lengthy weather delay and Steve Stricker joined Kuchar at 5 over – tied for 25th, a mathematical blow that knocked Kuchar out of the cup picture.

“No, seriously,” Stricker said when he learned that his closing 75 had ended Kuchar’s cup chances. “I’m sorry Matt. I was just telling him in the locker room, ‘You’re looking great. You can still win this thing.’”

It may ease Kuchar’s pain, if not Stricker’s, that he would only have had a chance to collect the cup had Watney won the Tour Championship. Such was the minutiae of the fourth FedEx Cup.

There were enough compelling undercards to make any Ryder Cup captain have regrets. Casey and Watney, who played his middle nines on the weekend (closing-nine 28 on Saturday and opening 30 on Sunday) in 58 strokes, both were overlooked as potential captain’s picks for this week’s matches and both had chances to cash the $10 million lotto ticket late Sunday.

Watney played his final nine in 2 over and tied for fourth place while Casey, who would have clinched the Question Cup with a solo second-place finish, bogeyed the 17th to tie with Watney.

Not that many, if any, were able to keep track.

“It’s impossible to be aware of the situation,” Kuchar said. “Who could? Maybe some kid in front of a computer.”

The FedEx Cup is not perfect. Was never going to be, what with Woods absent from the finale and Mickelson, who tied for 22nd, seemingly here only in spirit. But point systems do work, 8 million NASCAR fans can’t be wrong.

Nor did the minutia or confusion seem to matter to Furyk, who becomes the first player since Woods in 2007 to win both the Tour Championship and the cup.

His opening rounds of 67-65 were solid but his bookend 70s on the weekend were downright Furyk-like thanks to a used putter he purchased off the rack in Boston and a grinding style perfectly suited to the rigors of Sunday’s soggy finish.

“If all it took was heart, he’d win every week,” Cowan said. “He’s a great competitor.”

And for those who still question how meaningful a $10 million cash grab is to a group of millionaires check out Furyk’s 72nd-hole reaction on YouTube. The normally stoic Furyk erupted with a Tiger-esque fist pump. It was the most telling sign to date that the cup matters, at least to players.

“Forty years from now there will be a lot of history in (the FedEx Cup),” Furyk said. “To have my name with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh (the 2008 cup champion), those guys can play. It’s special.”

Confusing, a bit contrived, but special nonetheless.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.