Cut Line takes a final look back at this year’s postseason before moving on to a new calendar. Remember, “Opening Day” is just two weeks away at the Frys.com Open.
Heir Jordan. Maybe Jordan Spieth had simply grown tired of the narrative. Maybe he realized, at the tender age of 22, that the first three playoffs stops are little more than appetizers to the Tour Championship entrée. Or maybe he just wanted to end this season the way he began it.
Either way, the FedEx Cup champion put an exclamation point on what was an already historic season, winning the Tour Championship by four strokes to secure the FedEx Cup, Player of the Year Award and every other postseason honor.
But as impressive as Spieth’s play was at the finale it may be his mind that impressed the most in this playoffs. As he explained last week East Lake, it’s difficult to maintain major championship intensity week in and week out and he dedicated himself to peaking at the Tour Championship.
“I would do it every week if it was possible and I wouldn’t get worn out,” said Spieth, who missed the cut in the first two playoff stops. “I knew that at this point I could sleep for two or three days and give it everything I had.”
Tiger Woods dominated for more than a decade with a single-minded focus to compete, and win, every week. As successful as that formula was, give young Jordan credit for understanding that may not be an option for everyone.
Tweet of the week:
This was a nice year for the team— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) September 28, 2015
Five wins, two majors, $12 million in earnings, $22 million in total income (counting the FedEx Cup bonus), yep . . . nice year.
Playoff payoff. Say what you will about the Tour’s contrived postseason but even the most hardened cynic would be challenged to find a reason to nitpick this year’s playoffs.
Your four playoff winners were Jason Day (Barclays), Rickie Fowler (Deutsche Bank Championship), Day (BMW Championship) and Jordan Spieth (Tour Championship), the year’s top three players be it regular- or postseason.
The playoffs are not perfect (see Garcia item below), but in nine years they have accomplished the primary goal of keeping the top players engaged and active after the PGA Championship in four major markets.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
English lesson. There are, however, still glitches in the playoff math as Harris English learned last week.
English – who narrowly advanced to the Tour Championship after coming up just short the last two seasons, finishing 32nd and 31st on the points list the last two years – was informed after Louis Oosthuizen withdrew with an injury that his FedEx Cup chances were headed out of town with the South African.
Oosthuizen’s withdrawal, along with Jim Furyk’s WD earlier in the week, reduced the field to 28 players. According to the Tour’s number crunchers, English had to win the Tour Championship and Day had to finish outside the top 29 for English to win the FedEx Cup.
“I knew a lot of stuff had to happen and I had to win so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was kind of weird when they told me,” English said.
So much for anything can happen at East Lake.
Schedule sea change. After trying, and failing, for decades to create some sort of regulation that would assure player participation across the schedule, Tour officials seem cautiously optimistic a new proposal will finally bridge the gap.
The proposal, which still must be approved by the Tour policy board, would require any player who finished inside the top 125 the past five years to play at least one event per season they hadn’t played in the previous five years.
“It doesn't require a player to play any particular event. But it's a requirement that you have to have some more movement in your schedule,” commissioner Tim Finchem said last week. “I should emphasize, it's under discussion.”
On this, the independent contractors have been very clear and the Tour’s attempt to mandate schedules, no matter how nuanced, is sure to be heavily scrutinized.
El No-show. While the Tour examines ways to ensure greater participation, players like Sergio Garcia have made it clear there is virtually no amount of money that can inspire action.
Garcia’s decision to skip the first two playoff stops cost him a shot at winning the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus. Considering that on Aug. 16 after the PGA Championship the Spaniard was 31st on the points list, his decision to play just one more event (BMW Championship) was a clear statement of where the playoffs rank in his paradigm of importance.
“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Garcia said. “I’ve been out here for 16 years, and I’m not getting any younger. People don’t realize how much it takes out of you when you’re traveling as much as I do. If I just played the PGA Tour and I was living here in the U.S., it’s different. But when you’re going back and forth, it’s a lot of traveling and it takes a bit out of the body.”
Garcia may not have intended to make a statement, but considering he earned the same number of points as Spieth through the first two postseason starts, that would be zero, he certainly started a conversation.