As Good as It Gets

By Rex HoggardSeptember 6, 2010, 3:11 am

DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. – Here in the shadow of Foxboro they know a thing or two about playoffs, if not semantics (Would someone please settle the score between Foxboro and Foxborough).

Storied Fenway Park is just up the interstate, a bastion of October glory. It may no longer be the “Garden,” but the Celtics don’t seem to mind. And the Patriots, well what can one say of the Pats that head coach Bill Belichick hasn’t already coined?

It is a reality that makes this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four FedEx Cup “playoff” events, seem like an infant in an ancient world.

Deutsche Bank Championship
Fans attend Sunday's third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. (Getty Images)
Four years into PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s grand postseason experiment and fans still struggle with the concept, players still offer lukewarm accolades and the media continues to hold the entire affair at laptop's length.

To be fair, the watered-down initial version that begat the wildly volatile 2008 edition which begat something in between the last two years appears to have at last taken root.

Maybe the biggest problem with the entire shebang is a matter of semantics, golf is no more adaptable to the vagaries of a true playoff than football is to the concepts of self-policing and competitive integrity.

From the outset, the word “playoff” never fit Finchem’s grand plan, but then “a $10 million money grab to make the Tour Championship mean something” doesn’t really move the marketing needle.

But if one can get past the title, what the Tour has created is better than the alternative, which was a Tour Championship that rarely held any drama and a competitive calendar that faded into the darkness of football season.

Last year, with Tiger Woods hoisting the FedEx Cup and Phil Mickelson taking the consolation prize at the Tour Championship, is as good as it ever may get for the playoffs. But that’s not to say the Ponte Vedra Beach math and minutia is without sin.

Geoff Ogilvy for one is a fan, albeit a fan with a footnote.

“If you want them to be a playoff they are really good,” says Ogilvy, one of the circuit’s most thoughtful types.

To prove his point, Ogilvy explains that Matt Kuchar, who won the first postseason event in New Jersey, could win this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he is currently tied for 13th place, and next week in Chicago and still not win the FedEx Cup.

“The whole deal is that if you’re in the top 5 going into East Lake and win (the Tour Championship) you will be (the FedEx Cup champion),” he says.

Such is the mathematical tinkering the Tour instituted two years ago following Vijay Singh’s waltz to the cup in 2008, when the Fijian needed to only remain upright for four days in Atlanta to cash the $10 million lottery ticket.

“I don’t think that’s quite right,” says Ogilvy before quickly conceding, “For the most part the right guy has won it three years in a row. Vijay won it before he went to East Lake and that can’t be right either. This is about as good as you can get it.”

Six frat brothers played their way into the top 100 and onto the first tee at TPC Boston with solid week’s at The Barclays, a formula that is largely considered a cozy middle ground between the sleepy first year and the explosive second try.

But if Ogilvy’s support seems couched, he’s not alone.

Jason Bohn considered the question on Sunday for a long moment before pointing out that the current playoff system seems to reward too generously for good, but not great, finishes. Exhibit A: Martin Laird began the playoffs 95th on the points list, finished runner-up last week at Ridgewood and vaulted to third on the list.

“Someone can finish second at a playoff event and lock themselves into the Tour Championship,” Bohn says. “There are too many perks to play the Tour Championship. You get in all the majors and all the invitationals. I think they over-value second place.”

With that the Atlanta-area native paused to consider the other options. If the Tour wants the four playoff events to be considered in a similar light to the majors, a wildly lofty yet understandable goal, maybe the current system isn’t that bad.

“That’s tough. Maybe they have it right,” says Bohn, who was a member of the Player Advisory Council when the Tour was tinkering with the FedEx Cup format.

By comparison, quantum physics suddenly seems remedial. Without a stake in any of the game’s Grand Slam gatherings, the Tour made the most with what they had – four deep fields in major markets and something to talk about in September.

It’s not perfect. It’s not even a playoff. But all things considered, it’s better than the alternative.

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.

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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.

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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.