Plenty at stake in BMW Championship

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 16, 2015, 9:15 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – It’s all about the top five.

Players have been saying it for months: As long as they’re inside the top five in the FedEx Cup standings entering the Tour Championship, they can – all together now – control their own destiny and have a clear shot at the $10 million bonus. 

So what’s the incentive for some of the PGA Tour’s biggest stars this week?

Jason Day and Jordan Spieth are already assured of being in the top five next week at East Lake, no matter what happens here at Conway Farms. The third member of that featured group, Rickie Fowler, is virtually guaranteed to stay there too, barring an upside-down week at the BMW.

There is still plenty to play for, of course. The 70-man BMW still counts as an official PGA Tour victory. It still features a full purse, with $1.48 million to the winner. And it still offers plenty of world ranking points, which is good news for Day and Spieth, who are vying for Rory McIlroy’s top spot. But there is no denying that their work weeks don’t quite have that win-or-go-home intensity.

“As far as the final tally of the FedEx Cup, it’s not going to make much of a difference if I win this week or finish 70th because it’ll be re-paired and I’ll be in the top five; you control your own destiny,” Spieth said. “When you think about the FedEx Cup picture, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.”

Or does it?

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We know this much: If any of the top five players in the standings win next week at the Tour Championship, then they take home the FedEx Cup and the biggest cash prize in golf.

We know this, too: With the points reset before the final event – the top seed starts at 2,000 points, second place at 1,800 and third at 1,600, etc. – the top players can still win the FedEx Cup even without a win at East Lake … though it’s worth noting that the winner of the Tour Championship has gone on to take the FedEx Cup every year since the system was revamped in 2010. At the end of the day, it still comes down to how a player performs at crunch time.

Nine years into the FedEx Cup era, and players still don’t fully grasp all of the probabilities and permutations. It’s complicated math, but it’s a mistake to assume that there is no difference between who is first and fifth heading into East Lake.

In fact, from a probability standpoint, the No. 1 overall seed has a nearly 29 percent chance to win the FedEx Cup, opposed to just 11 and 8 percent, respectively, for Nos. 2 and 3.

Or how about this: The No. 1 player in the standings can still win the FedEx Cup if he finishes 29th in the 30-man field at the Tour Championship. The No. 2 guy needs to be among the top six to have a chance to win the Cup. The odds for the No. 5 man are even worse – he must finish no worse than second.

Your head spinning yet?

“The higher, the better,” Fowler said of his mindset.

So the BMW, then, actually features three intriguing storylines: the race to get inside the top 30, which gives everybody a shot at the big prize; the race for the top five, which guarantees a FedEx Cup title with a win next week; and then the race for position inside the top five, which isn’t sexy, not at all, but it is important, for each slot offers better odds.

Said 2014 FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel: “It’s an event that we all need to play well in, whether you’re already in East Lake or trying to get there.”

No-cut events always have a laid-back vibe – especially this time of year – but there’s plenty at stake this week.

Leading the race is Day, who is playing the best golf of his career and has another chance to realize a lifelong goal of reaching world No. 1. It would require a furious finish – and probably two consecutive wins – but there’s still a chance that he could steal some Player of the Year votes if he were to win the FedEx Cup.

“I know that I just have to suck it up for the next two weeks and go out and play as hard as I can,” he said. “I’ve got no excuses. I need to go out and play good. That’s the only thing that I have to focus on right now.”

After missing consecutive cuts in these playoffs, Spieth is relieved that he will at least accrue some points this week. He says he isn’t dealing with a major hangover and simply had four bad rounds. He’ll approach the Tour Championship as if it were a major, and these next two events present an opportunity to end his historic season with the exclamation point that it deserves.

Because of the points reset, and because he’s already assured of one of the five prized spots, Spieth says that it’s a “free-rolling scenario” and that he will play more aggressively to get his game in gear for East Lake.

“It makes you feel like you may as well go for broke here,” he said, “and play some shots under pressure that are more dangerous so that you can almost have it ready for next week.”

Those two are safe. Everyone else is trying to peak at the right time to cash in.

Every player currently inside the top 29 could move into the top five with a win this week – a group that includes Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.

And players who survive the 70-to-30 cut are exempt into all four majors next year, which is a big deal for guys like Daniel Summerhays (No. 26), Jason Bohn (28) and rookie Justin Thomas (35), who have combined for 11 Grand Slam appearances since 2010.

Hey, if we’ve learned anything over these past nine years, it’s this: At the big-money free-for-all, every spot matters.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“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," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.