Money is money, but the FedExCup has earned respect

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2017, 7:53 pm

ATLANTA – Pat Perez, never one to mince words or sugarcoat a $10 million elephant in a room, was asked on Wednesday about his chances this week at the traveling circus’ big finish.

“You know, for me to win the FedExCup, there's got to be a million things that have to go right and the biggest one happens to be me winning,” the eclectic veteran figured. “For me it's like winning the Powerball, because all the top guys would have to play bad, which they haven't done all year. So for them to all do it at once and me win, it’s about the same odds as Powerball.”

And does Perez play Powerball? “No, no chance. I bought a can of chew instead. Got more enjoyment out of that,” he answered.

East Lake understandably to some qualifies as “fantasy land” - Perez's words, not mine - but the elusive jackpot at the end of this week’s rainbow has a much more tangible meaning to others in the field.

After a decade, winning the FedExCup has fully evolved into an accomplishment that transcends even the most lofty expectations the PGA Tour had when it introduced its unique version of a playoff in 2007.

Players may have initially embraced the concept in ’07, if not the overly complicated math, but the cup's place among the game’s most coveted achievements was very much in flux.

Tiger Woods skipped the postseason opener in the New York area in ’07, the year he won the inaugural FedExCup, and Sergio Garcia hasn’t played the playoff lid-lifter four times in 11 years.

The $10 million was always attractive, and players by and large appreciated what the playoffs did for golf - creating meaningful competition during a time of year when the game had largely been a sporting afterthought - but the FedExCup wasn't necessarily high on players' priority lists.

That notion has changed, slowly but surely, as evidenced by this week’s field at East Lake and the level of play so far this postseason. That evolving reality has never been as obvious as it was on Tuesday when Jordan Spieth, the points leader entering the finale, was asked what was more important to players this week, assuming they would have to choose – a victory at East Lake or the FedExCup?

“I think players are probably more focused on the FedExCup than the Tour Championship,” he said.


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Current FedExCup Playoff points standings


That doesn’t mean Spieth or the other 29 guys in the field completely understand the convoluted points and permutations that go into the winning equation, but with history has come a general understanding of what needs to happen to claim the cup.

Just twice in the playoff era has the winner at East Lake not gone on to win the FedExCup, and both of those victors came before the circuit reworked the points structure to help tilt the competition toward those who play the best in the postseason.

Although he said he isn’t aware of every possible scenario, Spieth fully grasps the concept that - for the top five points leaders - one win (the Tour Championship) will beget another (the FedExCup) on Sunday.

“There are a lot of scenarios where I can still win the FedExCup and not win, and I can finish seventh like last week and probably still win depending on how it shapes up,” he explained. “But the likelihood is the guys that have been playing really well, the guys that are hot, you're likely to see toward the top of the leaderboard again.”

Spieth's wait-and-see scenario came to fruition for last year's points leader Dustin Johnson, when Rory McIlroy went into a playoff with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore late Sunday.

McIlroy needed to win the OT bout to claim the $10 million, while Johnson waited in the clubhouse for an alternative, as a Chappell or Moore victory would have assured him the cup instead.

“I still give [Chappell] crap, because he's a buddy of mine, so I still jab at him every once in a while about how much he cost me,” joked Johnson, who begins this week third on the points list.

Johnson can joke about his $7 million shortfall, the difference between finishing first and second in the FedExCup standings, because even though the check gets people’s attention, it’s the meaning and depth of the competition that motivates players – at least players at this level.

“In terms of this week, it's definitely not about the money. It's definitely not about being better than anybody else. I just like to win, and I like trophies,” said Justin Thomas, who enters the week behind only Spieth. “Not only the Tour Championship, but anytime you can win a year-long race and be known as a champion of an entire year, it's a big deal.”

The FedExCup means vastly different things to different people, but the biggest difference now is that it’s truly meaningful to the players.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.