Day 4 Playoffs Debut on PGA TOUR

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Editor's note; In the holiday spirit, the GolfChannel.com Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 4
 
Day 4If the PGA TOURs braintrust had been in a position to order up a dream scenario for the inaugural FedExCup, here are a few of the items they would have selected right off the menu:
 
  • Tiger Woods winning the thing but not being assured of the first place 10 million dollars in deferred money until the fourth and final week of what was called the playoffs.
     
    Steve Stricker
    Steve Stricker won the first Playoff event at The Barclays. (WireImage)
  • Tiger and Phil Mickelson battling each other late Sunday of at least one of the playoff tournaments.
     
  • A human interest story like, say, the likeable Steve Stricker winning an early playoff event and staying in the hunt for the $10 million almost until the end.
     
  • A little controversy to make the whole thing a little more tense and believable (in Hollywood they call this, driving the plot) like, say, Woods skipping the first event and Mickelson bailing on the third.
     
    The TOUR got all of these items, good service from the networks and the golf media and the best table at the moveable feast that was the FedExCups sumptuous first-year buffet.
     
    The early tip-off that everything was going to break the TOUR and FedExs way?
     
    Rory Sabbatini.
     
    Yes, Rory Listen Up, Tiger Sabbatini.
     
    Sabbatini is a brash, loud and impolitic young South African who generates publicity wherever he goes. His mouth is big enough to get both feet into it. And he performs this contortion on a regular basis.
     
    He is impossible to ignore which was a perfect thing for the FedExCups playoff debut when Sabbatini fashioned a stylish 63 to lead the first round of the first event of the first FedExCup ever played.
     
    The date was August 23, 2007. You could say it was a day on which the golf landscape changed forevermore. And you would be stretching the truth. But it was a day, and a concept and a first round leader to which you had to pay attention.
     
    I would say Im getting close to getting to the top level, Sabbatini said after taking a one-shot Thursday lead over Rich Beam and K.J. Choi Thursday at the Barclays. I keep opening the door and keep slamming it on my foot every time I step through. Its just a matter of time before I break through and get to that top level. Thats the way I look at it.
     
    By the end of the week Stricker had wrested the spotlight and victory away from Sabbatini and the event wasnt too much worse the wear for Woods absence.
     
    Tiger showed up the second week at Deutsche Bank Championship and got dusted by two shots by Mickelson. Suddenly it was game on. And suddenly the complicated FedExCup point formulas that had players scratching their heads much of the year began coming into focus.
     
    Mickelson even hinted that working with Butch Harmon, Tigers former coach, had given him an opportunity to learn a few of Tigers secrets from Harmon. That, of course, provided even more grist for the hungry mill.
     
    Then Mickelson skipped Week Three, the BMW Championship in Chicago. Woods romped. Then Tiger destroyed the field at the Tour Championship, the fourth and final playoff event. And the $10 million was his.
     
    Only time will tell whether the FedExCup was lucky or smart in its first year to get such a winning mix of compelling story lines and brilliant golf. But already the tweaking has begun.
     
    The TOUR subsequently and wisely changed next years schedule to give the players a week off after the third playoff event (which is also the week before the Ryder Cup) before concluding again with the TOUR Championship.
     
    Many players, despite the fact that the smart money people on Wall St. will tell you theyre dead wrong, complained about the deferred first place money. So next year the $10 million FedExCup winners share will comprise nine million in cash and one million in deferred comp.
     
    Commissioner Tim Finchem says there may still be changes in the points system once the playoffs begin next year, but the system that determines the 144 players that make the playoffs wont change.
     
    If the FedExCup wasnt a smashing success in its first year, it converted more than a few critics. It deserves an A- or a B+ at worst in a year when many experts were predicting a C would have been a good thing.
     
    Related Links:
  • Playoffs Finally Underway at The Barclays
  • Golf Central Special: Grading the FedExCup
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown