Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on the 'fatigue factor' and how it very likely will get worse next year; Henrik Stenson's remarkable career comeback and Tiger Woods' stamina.
If players were complaining of fatigue during this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, just wait until 2014. That’s because for the first time since 2007, the four playoff events will be held consecutively, with no break, during a fall stretch that will strain even the most physically fit. Apparently, that was a trade-off between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America, in order to allow for an off-week before the Ryder Cup in Wales, but it likely will come at the expense of the Tour’s big-money, end-of-season series. Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson both skipped the playoff opener and still had a chance to win the $10 million bonus. Unless there’s a change to the points structure, expect even more players to miss The Barclays to avoid burnout during the condensed playoff portion of the ’14 schedule. – Ryan Lavner
Prior to this week’s Tour Championship, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem proudly mentioned that of the 975 opportunities for players to compete in FedEx Cup playoff events, 966 spots were filled. Moral of the story? Players are buying into the concept. I’ll be interested to see those numbers next year, though, when the four events will be played in consecutive weeks. You needed more than 10 fingers to count those at East Lake who admitted they were “tired” during the season finale, including a few who had a chance at the $10 million grand prize. Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk have already proven you can win the FedEx Cup without playing all four of 'em; Zach Johnson had a chance to mirror that this year. Add it all together and it should equate to a few depleted fields during next year’s playoffs, with more top players taking a week off to rest up. – Jason Sobel
The PGA Tour may not give out the Comeback Player of the Year award any longer, but if it did Henrik Stenson surely would have retired the honor. Less than 24 months ago the Swede had dropped to 230th in the world ranking. On Sunday, with his victory at the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in tow, he’d climbed back to fourth in the world. A comeback by any definition. – Rex Hoggard
Tiger Woods doesn't have that jumbo-sized gas tank anymore. Yeah, at 37, he is still the best player in the game, but he doesn't have the seemingly limitless fuel reserves he could draw upon when he needed them most in the game's biggest events. The strength, energy and even motivation don't appear to be there in ample reserves anymore. His body is aging, and you wonder if his mind is tiring, too. Tiger has whipped the game's best players for more than a decade. How long can you muster the desire week after week to keep winning like that? It's awe-inspiring how long he dominated, but it has to be exhausting trying to stay ahead of everyone all the time. It is human to have peaks and valleys. Tiger will still have his peaks, but we might be seeing more valleys when we expect his best. The gas is still good, there just doesn't seem to be as much high octane anymore. – Randall Mell