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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.


Tour Championship: Articles, video and photos

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.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.