FedEx Cup Delivered in Ways

By Associated PressOctober 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim were eliminated with pars.
 
That left a big chunk of change for Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas to chase ' $4.26 million to the winner of the sudden-death playoff and $2.756 million to the loser, meaning one stroke was worth $1.5 million.
 
Villegas, who was five shots behind with 11 holes to play, wound up winning with a par for his second consecutive victory. So concluded one of the best tournaments all year, certainly the most thrilling Tour Championship since Mike Weir won a four-man playoff over Garcia, Ernie Els and David Toms seven years ago in Houston.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh was the man of The Playoffs, winning the $10 million bonus. (Getty Images)
If only the FedEx Cup could have ended that way.
 
Such a scenario is what made PGA Tour officials salivate when they created this points competition.
 
Imagine four players who move the needle ' heck, the Tour would settle for two of them ' battling on the back nine of the last playoff event with the $10 million prize riding on every drive, every chip, every putt, until it came down to one final shot.
 
Alas, the winner of golfs Super Bowl again spent the fourth quarter running out the clock.
 
The leaders had just made the turn at East Lake when Vijay Singh added his score correctly and signed the card in the right place, his only requirement to capture the FedEx Cup. It was equally anticlimactic last year when Tiger Woods entered the final round with a 13-shot lead on his nearest cup contender.
 
So what does that make the FedEx Cup?
 
A great show.
 
It is easy to bash the FedEx Cup for the blowouts it has delivered the first two years, but whose fault is that? Woods was the No. 1 seed last year, won two consecutive tournaments and tied for second in the other. That should win under any formula.
 
Singh was the No. 7 seed this year and won the first two playoff events, and while Villegas won the last two and tied for third in another, he started the playoffs as the No. 42 seed and missed the cut in the first event at The Barclays. Even using last years points system, Singh would have clinched the FedEx Cup before he arrived at East Lake.
 
More than anything, the FedEx Cup suffers from high expectations.
 
Did anyone really think Woods and Mickelson, Singh and Garcia, or any combination thereof, would come to the back nine of the Tour Championship with the FedEx Cup at stake?
 
That rarely happens in majors, let alone a points race stretched over four straight tournaments. Count how many times heavyweights have slugged it out on the back nine of a major this decade, and you can leave one hand in your pocket.
 
Remember, the points race was but one component of the FedEx Cup.
 
The other was to give golf a more defined conclusion to the season, bringing together the best players over the final month of the season when they otherwise would have shut it down after the majors.
 
Heres what the FedEx Cup delivered:
 
  • Singh, Garcia and Kevin Sutherland in a three-man playoff at The Barclays, where Garcia holed a 30-foot birdie putt, Singh poured in a 25-foot birdie on top of him and then beat the Spaniard on the second extra hole.
     
  • Weir, Villegas, Singh, Garcia, Els and Jim Furyk separated by five shots going into the last round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Singh rolled in three birdie putts of at least 35 feet and closed with a 63.
     
  • Villegas, Furyk and Kim traded blows on the back nine of the BMW Championship, where Villegas earned his first Tour victory.
     
  • Villegas, Mickelson, Kim and Garcia made up the final two groups Sunday at East Lake, and someone wound up with a birdie or a bogey at every hole on the back nine except the par-3 18th in regulation.
     
    A year ago, the playoff events were equally stout.
     
    Steve Stricker birdied four of the last five holes to win for the first time in six years. Deutsche Bank seized on playoff fever with the Mickelson-Woods showdown on Labor Day. Woods needed a record-setting performance at Cog Hill to hold off Stricker and Aaron Baddeley. The worst event was East Lake, an eight-shot victory by Woods, because the greens barely had any grass.
     
    It is hard to find four PGA Tour events with so much name recognition on the leaderboard, let alone four in a row. In that respect, the FedEx Cup is doing just fine.
     
    Now if they can figure out how to make the finish just as compelling.
     
    The points system will be adjusted again. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will direct his mathematicians to create a formula that adds importance each week until the Tour Championship.
     
    Even then, there are no guarantees the Tour Championship will be anything but ceremonial.
     
    Remember, however, the Tour Championship was little more than an All-Star game before the FedEx Cup came along. The only meaningful Tour Championship over the previous dozen years was in 1996, when Tom Lehman won to overtake Mickelson for the money title and ultimately player of the year; and in 2003, when Woods and Singh were in a tight race for those two awards.
     
    No matter how you calculate points, the playoffs for two straight years have featured strong fields and compelling tournaments. Theres nothing wrong with that.
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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.