Late FedEx fluctuations decide BMW field

By Will GraySeptember 1, 2014, 11:50 pm

NORTON, Mass. – After salvaging a par on the final hole, Carl Pettersson strode into the scoring area at TPC Boston and headed right for the numbers guru.

“Is it enough?” he asked Tom Alter, the PGA Tour’s VP of Communications, who moonlights as the circuit’s chief playoff projection specialist.

It was, Alter told him. The Swede entered the week No. 93 in the standings, with only 70 players advancing to next week’s – er, this week’s – BMW Championship, but a final-round 66 got the job done.

Upon hearing the news, Pettersson let out a clap, grabbed a Diet Coke and sat down in a seat to review his scorecard, breathing a visible sigh of relief.

Welcome to the FedEx Cup playoffs, and remember to bring your own abacus.

Throughout the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, players jumped inside the bubble, then outside, then back in again. The fluctuations were constant, and the final ticket to Cherry Hills was punched based on the finish of … Rory McIlroy.

Of course it was.

Only two players eagled the par-5 18th during the final round, and as fate would have it, those two men ended up straddling the final top-70 bubble. Jerry Kelly, who appeared on the outside looking in with an hour to go in the final round, has a tee time Thursday at Cherry Hills.

Robert Streb, whose 966 point total put him less than two points behind Kelly, is headed home.

Such are the machinations of the playoffs, a points system designed with volatility in mind and whose swings are often impossible to predict.

2014 FedEx Cup standings

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Kelly is no stranger to bubble situations. During the peak of his career, he finished 11th on the Ryder Cup points list when the top 10 names advanced. Twice. He missed advancing at Q-School by a single shot on three other occasions.

“Every single year,” he said. “I’m always right there. Right around the edges.”

After a bogey on the 17th hole, Kelly’s fate appeared bleak, but he displayed the poise and savvy of a veteran during the 50-yard walk to the final tee.

“Walking off 17, I said, ‘Don’t let this be a hole that you think about until next season,’” he said. “’Do something here to know that you’ve done everything you could to get in.’”

That’s exactly what he did, nestling a 3-wood to within 4 feet of the hole. Eagle. It vaulted him to No. 68 in the standings, and onto the cusp of safety.

Fast forward three hours, and Streb was walking to the home hole in need of something big. His approach rolled to within 7 feet, and it appeared an underdog upset would come to fruition for Streb, a 27-year-old who finished last year 126th on the points list.

“I knew where I stood,” explained Streb, who started this week No. 97 in the standings. “It was pretty exciting walking up there because I knew I needed to make it.”

The excitement for Streb was short-lived, though, as myriad late results created a domino effect that bumped him to No. 71.

First Morgan Hoffmann, who began the final round 3 over for his first six holes, birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to jump to No. 68 and achieve “Denver-bound” status.

“My caddie and I kind of kicked ourselves coming in, and we got it done,” he said. “It’s just a bonus for me. I’m just happy to make it past The Barclays.”

The remaining dominoes impacting Streb began with Chesson Hadley, who birdied the final hole to join him in a tie for ninth for the tournament. After starting the week at No. 84, the rookie is now headed to the third playoff event.

A 72nd-hole birdie from Jason Day moved him into a tie for seventh, further eroding Streb’s projected point total. That tally took another hit when McIlroy birdied 16, then added another birdie on 18.

While Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel decided the tournament, it was McIlroy’s finish that decided the bubble. Kelly, who left the course before McIlroy teed off, is moving on at No. 70. Streb comes up one spot short once again.

Six players moved into the top 70 this week at TPC Boston, and five players – Kelly, Hoffmann, Pettersson, K.J. Choi and Ben Crane – would have seen their seasons end had they taken even one more shot this week.

The darker side of the bubble had tales of regret, as Streb was one of three players who missed the top 70 by a single shot.

David Hearn played early in the morning, and came to the 18th at 7 under for his round. He thought he needed one more, though, and played aggressively from 92 yards to a tucked pin. He missed with his wedge, then failed to get up-and-down, and left with a closing bogey. A par, as it turned out, would have been enough. He finished No. 74.

Jason Kokrak knew he needed birdie on the final hole, but he caught his 5-iron from 222 yards thin. The ball bounced off rocks in front of the green and into a hazard. While he got up-and-down from the drop zone for par, it became clear minutes after his round that he was likely on the outside.

“One bad mis-hit on the last hole,” he said. “I knew I needed to make birdie to really solidify my spot in the BMW.”

After swilling his soda in the scoring area, Pettersson admitted that he had two flights booked for Monday evening from Boston: one home to Raleigh, N.C., and one to Denver. The departure times were separated by 30 minutes, and he knew the FedEx Cup calculators would ultimately decide which flight he would board.

“It’s been a fun ride,” he said.

For the likes of Kokrak and Streb, the season ends here. But for Pettersson and 69 others, the ride now heads west to Cherry Hills, with a $10 million prize still looming on the horizon.

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

Getty Images

Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

Getty Images

Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.