DON'T BLAME ME: Heath Slocum won the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event, parring the 72nd hole for a one-shot triumph over Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker. In the process, Slocum moved from 124th to third on the FedEx Cup points list.
Slocum deserves great applause for beating three sure-fire future Hall of Famers. However ... this was a MASSIVE blow to The Playoffs. To start with a sudden-death battle featuring Woods, Els and Harrington could have been like the first three rounds of the Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns fight, but with the prospect of it going nine more. In the end, The Barclays crowned a deserving champion, but one who quashed a lot of buzz by making one 20-foot putt.
(DON'T) GIVE ME LIBERTY: Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., played host to The Barclays for the first time. The course offered picturesque views, including the Statue of Liberty. However, players didn't seem overly impressed with the course itself.
Tiger Woods bypassed the media each of the first two days, presumably adhering to the adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say ... ." Even Tour nice guy Zach Johnson responded with, "I'm not your guy," when asked to comment on the course. Are PGA Tour players pampered and whiny? Of course they are. And they should be tased for complaining about things like bumpy greens at Pebble Beach. But they do have a point on this one: They're in the "playoffs," playing for millions and millions of dollars. They shouldn't be playing on tracks where one the best things anyone could muster was, building this course "ruined a perfectly good landfill."
DO YOU MIND?: One week after coming up one inch short of missing out on a playoff, Sergio Garcia took a share of the first-round lead at The Barclays after an opening 6-under 65. He then shot 76-74-70 to tie for 31st.
Garcia remains winless on Tour since last year's Players. He's also endured some pretty brutal defeats the past few seasons. But I wouldn't advise him to see a sports psychologist, simply because I don't believe in them. Not like werewolves, I do believe sports psychologists exist. I just find their existence further evidence as to how much better Tiger Woods is than everybody else. He doesn't need one, and neither do you, Sergio. Use that money on better things. Like taffy.
NO QUIT IN FURYK: Jim Furyk closed in 69 Sunday at The Barclays to tie for 15th, six shots back of winner Heath Slocum. If not for a third-round blunder, however, he might have contended for the title. Furyk played the first two holes Saturday with an extra club in his bag. He was penalized two strokes per hole.
After becoming aware of the infraction – which turned a pair of opening pars into two double bogeys – Furyk responded with five birdies and no bogeys over the remainder of his round. He then made three more birdie to just one bogey Sunday. Furyk is the Bizarro World John Daly – or vice versa.
TAKE IT EASY: The top 100 players on the FedEx Cup points list qualified for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston. Some of those missing the cut were: K.J. Choi (No. 101), Michael Allen (108) and Adam Scott (110),
Four players jumped inside the top 100 (Heath Slocum, Fredrik Jacobson, Troy Matteson and Richard S. Johnson) and four fell out (Choi, Matt Bettencourt, George McNeil and Ben Curtis). Thirty more players will get the ax after the Labor Day conclusion of the Deutsche Bank.
THAT TROPHY'S BIGGER THAN HUR: M.J. Hur, a rookie on the LPGA, birdied the second extra hole to defeat Suzann Pettersen at the Safeway Classic. Hur shot a flawless five birdie, one eagle, 7-under 65 Sunday en route to her first tour win. Pettersen was in complete control of the tournament until a bogey at 14 and a double bogey at 15.
As senior writer Randall Mell pointed out it's been nearly four months since an American has won on the LPGA. Maybe they should make more tournaments team events.
WIE'RE GETTING CLOSER: Michelle Wie finished two back at the Safeway Classic, two removed from a playoff. She shot rounds of 68-71-66 for her fourth top-5 finish of the season.
Wie was done in by an erratic second round, which included five birdies and four bogeys. But she made a game of it on Sunday, recording six birdies without dropping a shot. Wie has never been much of a closer. If that changes, she'll add considerably to the American win total each year.
SICK TO HER STOMACH: As reported by Randall Mell, Paula Creamer withdrew from the Safeway Classic due to flu-like symptoms. Her family is hoping this recent ailment is just a bug and not more serious. Creamer has suffered from a mysterious stomach malady since last year, which is still undiagnosed.
What's scarier than the unknown? You're sick and doctors can't tell you why. With my luck, they'd say: "We've never seen this before in humans, only in lemurs." Hopefully, for her sake and the LPGA's, Creamer will be back to full strength very soon.
THE U.S. AM TO AN: Byeong Hun-An, a 17-year-old high school senior in Florida, defeated Clemson senior Ben Martin, 7 and 5, to become the youngest champion ever at the 109th U.S. Amateur. It's the second consecutive year that has happened. An is about a month and a half younger than Danny Lee was when he broke Tiger Woods’ record last year to become the youngest champion in an event which began in 1895.
An isn't just young; he's from South Korea – which isn't a bad thing. It just means that internationally-born players have won five of the last seven U.S. Amateur Championships. That's not a bad thing either, globally speaking. But when Americans stop winning American events, Americans tend to stop paying attention.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Peter Hedblom won the Johnnie Walker Championship for his third career European Tour title. ... Loren Roberts birdied his final two holes to win the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour. ... Tiger Woods won the second annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge. ... Woods also joined the field for the HSBC Champions in China, which is now part of the World Golf Championships series.
Few champions opt for the Burt Reynolds '72 Cosmo pose after victory (You can Google that one on your own). ... Roberts beat Mark O'Meara by one to keep the two-time major champion winless on the senior circuit. ... The skins game, which also featured Begay, Mike Weir and Camilo Villegas, made $750,000 for Begay's foundation, which uses sports to promote physical fitness and wellness among Native American youth. ... The Champions field includes Woods, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, British Open champion Stewart Cink, PGA champion Y.E. Yang and defending champion Sergio Garcia.
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