On PGA Tour, points can be worth more than money

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2016, 7:17 pm

This marks the 10th season of the FedEx Cup era, and while playoffs and points and even split-calendar seasons – the latter of which came along in 2013 – have become the status quo on the PGA Tour there are still parts of the new math that require analysis.

Money lists, the standard for success for decades at the highest level, have been replaced by points lists for all manner of benchmarks – from the basic drive to keep one’s job (top 125) to qualifying for many of the game’s biggest events (top 30).

The last vestiges of cash will likely be benched for good following initial approval by the policy board of a proposal to nix exemptions for players who finish inside the top 125 in earnings but not points.

While points have become the norm among today’s Tour players, that doesn’t mean the system is perfect.

Although the Tour uses simple math to calculate the points breakdown each week, it’s not a perfect comparison to how cash is doled out.

Look at Gary Woodland’s run the past few weeks. After dropping to 84th on the points list when he missed the cut at Bay Hill, he tied for 33rd in Houston and yet remained 84th on the list. He then followed that with a tie for 20th that included a drop of 10 spots (to 94th on the list).

The next week at the Wells Fargo Championship he tied for 24th and moved up eight spots to 86th.

Go figure.

Essentially, the percentage of FedEx Cup points awarded to players is not the same as the percentage of money, with a tendency to reward middle-of-the-pack performances with points.

“If you get as golf sicko as I do sometimes, you can lay out the money list in one column and the FedEx Cup [points] list in another column and look at the difference,” Charles Howell III said. “Look, every player has to play under the same rules, I understand that, and every player can get benefit or hurt [from the differences].”

Consider the plight of Greg Owen, who currently holds down the 125th spot in earnings, but is 133rd on the points list. Jamie Donaldson is 124th in cash, 135th in points. Bud Cauley is 126th in money, 153rd on the FedEx Cup list.

You get the point – no pun intended – the lists are riddled with disparities.

Endless hours of studying the points list has brought Howell to the conclusion that to make the most of each start a player needs to finish around 35th place or better each week.

 “If you look at the points breakdown, after that it really falls off fast. If your floor is at 35th, 36th if you’re able to finish above that you’re able to move along well,” Howell said last week at TPC Four Seasons.

The distribution of money is weighted more toward top finishes. For example, based on 70 players making the cut and no ties, a 10th-place finish is worth 2.7 percent of the purse; while that same finish is worth just .021 percent of the available FedEx Cup points.

“It’s not a perfect system and I honestly don’t know how you would do it unless you went back to money, which, for my generation, we were all so used to seeing money,” Howell said. “I understand the FedEx Cup and I understand why they want to do it more based on equality than strength of purse, if you will, per tournament, I get all that.”

For Howell, his season is a portrait of how the system is tilted toward steady play if not a spectacular week. In 19 starts, he’s finished outside of that magic top-35 position just six times and ranks 24th on the FedEx Cup points list, yet his best finish is a tie for fourth at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

The FedEx Cup system and how points are distributed – which officials are currently reviewing – is focused more on rewarding consistency while money is allotted with a focus on finishes within the top 10; and Howell explains he’s been on the wrong side of the FedEx Cup math before, like in 2012 when he finished 84th on the points list after making 20 of 29 cuts but posted just eight top-25 finishes.

He also points out that it’s hard to debate how the system measures the game’s elite.

“It does evaluate the best players. They are always going to be [Nos.] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,” he said.

For Howell, the points list and how it differs from earnings is a study in perspectives, like most things in golf.

“I have a lot of things that go through my head about this game,” he laughs. “This game’s going to get us all eventually, right? We are all eventually headed to the same nut house.”

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)