What’s not open to debate is the reality of a bona fide Player of the Year race and the motives of an overzealous taxman that may make this year’s Ryder Cup the game’s most expensive exhibition for some participants.
Corey Pavin. Not sure what to make of Team USA’s uniforms (do pinstripes and pastel sweaters really scream ‘come get some?’), but we do have to hand it to Captain America for staying on topic.
Asked last week if Tiger Woods was a lock to play all five matches at next month’s Ryder Cup, Pavin had no problem shutting down the notion that he would play favorites.
“I am going to treat every player the same. The objective is to try to win the Ryder Cup and if in my judgment I think Tiger is to play five matches, or should play four or three, then that is what I will do – that’s my call as captain,” Pavin told BBC Radio.
“For me, it’s how he’s playing golf. That’s my concern as far as the Ryder Cup goes.”
It truly has been a year of firsts for the world No. 1: he missed the cut at Quail Hollow, finished 18 over par at Firestone, will miss the Tour Championship and may spend a portion of his week in Wales cheerleading.
Player of the Year race. Remember when these postseason awards were a foregone conclusion? Woods, or Vijay Singh, would lop up at East Lake, play four largely meaningless rounds and grab the POY hardware on their way to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
Now there are no fewer than a half dozen names that could secure the trophy at East Lake.
You may not like the playoffs, but at least now one can differentiate between the Tour Championship and the Shark Shootout.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Bye weeks. The lull before the Tour Championship storm is fine, particularly for the handful of players who will jump a charter from Atlanta to Wales on Sunday night to play the Ryder Cup, but why go dark entirely?
It has been a month since many Tour types played any meaningful golf and the circuit has plenty of inventory to plug in this week between all of the Fall Series and opposite-field tournaments.
These events won’t pull any top players, but then they don’t attract from the top of the Tour marquee anyway. Besides, we hear New York (Turning Stone Resort Championship) and Reno (Reno-Tahoe Open) are lovely this time of year.
FedEx Cup playoffs. The Tour’s fourth-year experiment isn’t perfect and, despite the best math and marketing efforts of Camp Ponte Vedra Beach, it may never be. The 2010 edition concludes next week at East Lake without Tiger Woods and, according to many players and pundits, with far too much volatility.
A playoff it isn’t. Nor is it an unequivocal answer to the Player of the Year question. But it is a collection of four solid events in major markets during a time of year that golf is traditionally a sporting after thought.
“It’s called the playoffs, and you have to play well during that time of year,” said Kevin Streelman, considered by some the poster child for a system that is weighted too heavily on the postseason. “It’s just like a wild-card winning the Super Bowl, it’s why we call it the playoffs.”
Tweet of the week: @IanJamesPoulter: “Well another finish in the top 30 on the money list and don’t get in tour championship [sic]. Are the playoffs any good?”
Colin Montgomerie. It’s going to be a sad day when the matches are over and Captain “Doh” rides off into the Welsh sunset. But until then, let’s enjoy the ride.
It seems the Scot has spurned Paul Casey, again. During a press conference recently, Monty was asked who would step in if Lee Westwood, slowed this season by a calf injury, couldn’t play? Either Monty was confused or he should be committed because he said Justin Rose, not seventh-ranked Casey, would get the call.
You want Rose, fine. But why in the world would you lock yourself into a theoretical pick weeks before the matches? Here’s a hypothetical for you, what if Casey wins the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, the $10 million lottery and is the last man on earth? Never mind, think we know the answer.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The United Kingdom taxman has suddenly become very interested in what kind of footwear the U.S. team will be sporting at Celtic Manor.
According to reports, HMRC may tax players like Woods and Phil Mickelson for endorsement income from wearing branded products.
In a related item, Sean Foley has Woods hitting golf balls barefooted on the practice tee at Isleworth. No word yet if it’s a balance drill or tax dodge.
Swing wars. Charlie Wi fired a heated volley in the budding row between Foley, Woods’ new swing coach, and Wi’s instructors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, whose “stack and tilt” method was all the rage on Tour a few years back.
“There's an article coming out in Golf Digest, and there was a big problem with Andy and Mike and the person that's working with Tiger (Foley) because the pictures that are in Golf Digest are pretty much straight out of their golf book that they have released,” Wi said last week in Chicago.
“Andy approached (Foley) and said, hey, I don't think it's fair that you're using our material. But he goes, well, you know, they asked me a question and said who do you look up to as teachers, and he said that my first teacher is Andy and Mike, the ‘stack and tilt’ guys, so we'll see when the publication comes out if he did say that or not.
For what it’s worth, we’ve interviewed Foley on numerous occasions, before and after he started working with Woods, and he’s always given the “stack and tilt” tandem a healthy amount of credit for the evolution of his own philosophy.
It all reminds us of something another Tour instructor once told us, if you have to tell people how good you are ... well, you know the rest.