Is FedExCup about volatility or mediocrity

By Associated PressSeptember 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipThis years version of the FedExCup was supposed to be about volatility.
The buzz word in Boston was mediocrity.
Vijay Singh has been anything but that. He has played the first two weeks of the PGA TOUR Playoffs like it was 2004, when he was No. 1 in the world and winning just about every time he teed it up. With victories at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship, his lead is so large he might wrap up the $10 million prize this week in St. Louis.
No one should have any qualms with that.
Go a little bit deeper in the standings, and the playoffs reward great play. Sergio Garcia is at No. 2 after a runner-up finish and a tie for fifth. Next is Mike Weir, who tied for seventh and finished second. And in fourth place is Justin Leonard, who has tied for seventh both weeks.
Still, all it took was one week for millionaire golfers to turn into mathematicians.
They figured out that a player could finish 70th two weeks in a row and earn more points than someone who contended on Sunday and wound up fifth, then missed a cut.
The idea behind a revamped points system was to create more movement in the standings during the three playoff events leading to the TOUR Championship, and the simple fix was to award an additional 2,000 points to each player.
But that essentially became a 2,000-point bonus to anyone making the cut.
Charlie Wi tied for 65th at The Barclays and tied for 44th at the Deutsche Bank, moving up 27 spots from No. 66 to No. 39 going into the third round this week. Sean OHair missed the cut both weeks and was sent home, despite starting the playoffs as the No. 16 seed.
Cuts made bothers me, said Jim Furyk, a reasonable and honest voice on tour. Making a cut isnt anything to be proud of, in my opinion. Finishing fifth? Now, theres something to be proud of. As we know two 70ths is better than a fifth and a missed cut. I think were rewarding mediocrity. I dont like rewarding mediocrity.
Who shows up at a golf tournament thinking about making the cut?
Plenty of players at the TPC Boston, knowing that if they missed the cut they would be going home. And in some cases, making the cut would allow them to punch their ticket to the TOUR Championship ' not to mention earn a ticket down Magnolia Lane for the Masters.
Take the case of Kevin Sutherland at No. 57. He had one great week ' Sutherland was part of the three-man playoff at The Barclays ' then made the cut in Boston and tied for 50th. Two weeks later, an ordinary year and one great week means Sutherland is No. 6 in the standings.
What does it mean? That Barclays and this tournament are the two most important tournaments of the year to make the cut. By miles, said Geoff Ogilvy, another insightful mind. Thats awesome for the players who do.
But then he considered how many players might wind up at the Masters for having one or two good weeks at the right time ' and remember, Augusta National does not want a big field ' and he wondered how long the Masters would continue to invite the top 30.
Theyll take that exemption away quicker than you can say, Cut the rough, Ogilvy said.
Steve Dennis is the director of communications strategy for the PGA TOUR, also known as the FedExCup guru. He didnt create the new system, but he can answer all the questions.
And there have been a lot of questions these first few weeks.
The first thing Id say is that the guys at the top of the FedExCup standings are guys who have played incredibly well, Dennis said, and that gets no argument.
As in playoffs in other sports, if you lose youre gone, even if you had a perfect regular season, he said. You have to have balance where your performance in the playoffs really matters, and the regular season really matters. Were only two events in. It looks to me like its playing out pretty reasonably.
Ten guys played their way into the top 70 last week to qualify for the BMW Championship in St. Louis. The 10 who fell out of the top 70 all missed the cut in Boston.
Angel Cabrera and Tim Herron are the only players in St. Louis who started outside the top 120 in the playoffs and have advanced after each of the two rounds.
Well done? Thats debatable.
Cabrera started at No. 131 and moved up to No. 70 with a tie for 19th and a tie for 15th. Herron started at No. 133 and advanced with a tie for 24th and a tie for fifth last week, when he shot 65 in the final round.
That was his first top 10 of the year. Timing is everything.
The biggest headache in all this is Padraig Harrington. You remember him as the British Open and PGA champion, a feat accomplished only by Tiger Woods the last half-century. Then he missed two cuts in a row and wont get to East Lake unless he finishes fifth in St. Louis.
Do you want a two-time major winner not in the TOUR Championship? Furyk asked.
Its a fair question, but its missing the broader point.
The TOUR Championship is no longer a reward for a great season. Its a reward for a great month. Thats what the PGA TOUR Playoffs are all about this year because of the volatility. And volatility is what the players wanted last year.
At least some of them.
Its a fight between the haves and have-nots a little bit, like in everything else, Furyk said. All the guys in the top 40 are complaining its too volatile, all the guys at the end are saying its great. Last year, everyone in the top 40 said, This is great, all the guys at the other end said, This (stinks).
Where do you get the happy medium?
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    Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

    SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

    Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

    Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

    He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

    ''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

    Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

    Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

    Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

    By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

    In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

    Made Cut

    Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

    “I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

    Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

    A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

    The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

    “I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

    Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

    “The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

    It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

    “It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

    Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

    For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

    Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

    Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

    It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.

    Missed Cut

    By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

    Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

    While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

    Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

    Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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    S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

    SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

    Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

    Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

    ''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

    Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

    She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

    Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

    Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.