Buzz or buzzkill?


Five questions to ponder with nap time scheduled in the middle of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup . . .

Does this bye week kill the FedEx Cup playoff buzz, or are you still waiting for the buzz to begin?

The FedEx Cup never should have been characterized as playoffs. It was a fundamental mistake that’s skewed the whole big-finish concept.

The naptime PGA Tour headquarters schedules for its players in the middle of the “playoffs” is more evidence that these are not playoffs as we’ve come to understand them as sports fans.

All those Major League Baseball players in the middle of pennant grinds must be wondering if PGA Tour pros will play the second half of their “playoffs” in skorts or Capri pants when they awaken from their naps and return for the BMW Championship next week.

I know, I know, the PGA Tour brass had to schedule this break to appease star players who compete around the world and don’t want to play four consecutive weeks. I understand the psyche and scheduling issues, I just wish they didn’t exist.

The FedEx Cup works great in that we get to see the PGA Tour’s best players tee it up against each other more often. It works in that it gives us a more definitive ending to the season than we’ve ever had before. Who doesn’t want more big events? It’s just set up to disappoint when sold as “playoffs.”

FedEx Cup Bonanza, FedEx Cup Jackpot, FedEx Cup Extravaganza . . . They wouldn’t be pretty names, but they’d be more accurate than FedEx Cup playoffs.

Who’s going to be the next young’un to break through in the playoffs?

In yet another sign that a new generation is taking over, the 20-somethings have seized ownership of the FedEx Cup halfway through the playoffs.

With Webb Simpson, 26, winning the Deutsche Bank Championship Monday, young’uns have won both playoff events. Dustin Johnson, 27, won The Barclays in the opener.

Only three 20-somethings won playoff events in the first four years of the postseason format. Camilo Villegas won the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in ’08 and Johnson won the BMW Championship last year.

Simpson and Johnson will be among the favorites again at next week’s BMW Championship, where Johnson is the defending champ. Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Martin Laird and Rickie Fowler are among the highest-ranked players in their 20s in the BMW field.

So if you were voting for PGA Tour Player of the Year today, who gets your vote?

Keegan Bradley should be penciled atop any early ballot configuration. If major championships really matter most, he’s got to be the guy.

Six players have won twice on the PGA Tour this year, but Bradley’s the only player whose two titles include a major championship.

That’s the difference-making detail in a year that’s sorely lacking players who are dominant difference makers.

Webb Simpson, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson also have each won twice this year, but their resumes don’t just lack majors this season. They lack any at all.

It’s a sign of the times. In this era of parity, so many of today’s best players are major-less.

The world’s No. 1 player, Luke Donald, didn’t get his first major this year. Neither did No. 2 Lee Westwood.

So which season-ending event looks like it will be more compelling: The Race to Dubai’s finale at the Dubai World Championship or the FedEx Cup playoff finale at the Tour Championship?

Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood lead the Race to Dubai with Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke among the top eight in the standings for the European Tour’s season-ending championship.

The Dubai World Championship will feature the top four players in the world rankings as currently configured. The Tour Championship? Unless there’s a shakeup, it will feature one of the top four, No. 1 Donald.

If there was a world ranking for colorful characters in golf, the Dubai World Championship would also get an edge on the Tour Championship.

Europe doesn’t just have the best players in the world today. The continent’s got the best collection of characters in the game.

Are long putters losing their stigma?

An act of desperation.

That’s mostly what a switch to the long putter felt like . . . until this year.

If there’s a change in the way long putters and belly putters are perceived, it’s in how players aren’t migrating to them just to remedy the yips anymore, or fix something that’s broken. There’s a palpable change this year in that players are considering long putters now because they see a better way of putting, not just a crutch. There’s a definite psychological shift in thinking about long putters.

While Phil Mickelson’s struggled with streaky putting in his career, his move to the belly putter at the Deutsche Bank last week didn’t resonate as desperation. It seemed more like the move of a man who sees an advantage in the tool. The fact that Simpson and Bradley are winning with them in their 20s factors into the new psychology of the long putter.