Playoff Fever Mild - But Catching On

By Associated PressAugust 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- Playoff fever? No.
 
Despite glitzy banners on the grandstands and a large 'PGA TOUR Playoffs' logo painted in the grass on a slope beneath the 13th tee at Westchester, The Barclays looked and felt like any other golf tournament. It happened to be one of the most exciting tournaments of the year, if that counts for anything.
 
Playoff pressure?
 
Absolutely.
 
Not everyone felt it, least of all Tiger Woods, who didn't bother to show up for round one of the FedExCup finale.
 
Brett Quigley was at No. 118 in the standings, knowing that only the top 120 would advance to the second round outside Boston. He had no clue what kind of score would get him there, but it wasn't long before he found out.
 
As he bent slightly on an injured right knee to study his 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, his eyes suddenly shifted to an electronic scoreboard behind the green that flashed the projected standings.
 
His name was at No. 121.
 
'That was the most nervous I've felt on TOUR,' Quigley said. 'I never felt that nervous trying to win a tournament.'
 
Turns out the leaderboard had faulty information, and he was not outside the 120 at that moment. Quigley didn't know that, however, and that's what made his next stroke so impressive. It was a slick putt over a bumpy green, and he rolled it into the heart of the cup.
 
Clearly relieved as he walked off the green, the leaderboard again flashed the projected standings. Quigley's caddie, John 'Cubbie' Burke, rushed over and held a towel in front of his face like a curtain. There was laughter all around, especially when Quigley hit a fairway metal onto the 18th green for a two-putt birdie to close with 67.
 
He wound up in a tie for 25th. All that work, and he only moved up to No. 115 in the standings.
 
'My thinking was if I made the cut, I would be OK,' he said.
 
Quigley narrowly made it to the Deutsche Bank Championship this week, but his season will be over if he finishes any lower than second. Ditto for Rich Beem, who had his best finish of the year (tie for seventh) and only got the promise of one more tournament.
 
It is senseless to judge the merits of the FedExCup until it ends at the TOUR Championship three weeks from now. But the first of four events shed some light on what this format is all about.
 
And it's not all bad.
 
For now, much of the attention is on the guys at the bottom of the food chain. It's almost as if the TOUR is telling them, 'These playoffs really are for the top 70, but we'll give you a chance for a week or two. After that, it's time for you to go home.'
 
They have no one to blame but themselves.
 
Players had all year to accumulate points. If anyone thought simply qualifying for the playoffs was enough -- not all that difficult with 144 players getting into the first event -- they learned at The Barclays just how well they had to play to advance.
 
It won't be much different in Boston, where only the top 70 out of 120 players will move on to Chicago. For 35 players at the bottom of the list, such as Retief Goosen and Mike Weir, a top 10 won't be good enough.
 
The second phase is the 70-man field at the BMW Championship in Chicago, where the top 30 advance to the TOUR Championship.
 
This is still the goal for a majority of the players. For years, these guys figured they had a successful year if they won a tournament or got into the TOUR Championship. Even with a $10 million prize, playing in the TOUR Championship remains their priority.
 
That's why Scott Verplank is not in Boston this week. The 43-year-old doesn't think he can play his best four weeks in a row, so he's taking one week off and gearing himself up for the tournament where he thinks he can win. He is at No. 15 and should be OK.
 
'If I'm beat up and dead tired going to Atlanta, on a course where I feel I can win, what good is that?' Verplank said before these playoffs started. 'I'm probably stupid, but I'd rather win the TOUR Championship than the FedExCup.'
 
No, he's not stupid. Just practical.
 
Of the top 30 who make it to East Lake, the best guess is that a dozen guys will have a chance to win the FedExCup. That's assuming, of course, that Woods doesn't win in Boston and Chicago. Only then will the focus shift to the $10 million prize.
 
How is this bad for golf?
 
If the tour had a mulligan, it should change its wording. When the FedExCup first was introduced in 2005, commissioner Tim Finchem referred to these final four events as the 'championship series.' A year later, they became the 'playoffs.'
 
Some international players who grew up with rugby and cricket don't have an appreciation for what playoffs are all about. Americans do, and that poses an even bigger misconception of the FedExCup.
 
Winning the playoffs means achieving the greatest thing in that sport -- the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup. The greatest achievement in golf is winning one of the four majors. Although the PGA TOUR has never said the FedExCup is greater than a major, using the word 'playoffs' can make it sound that way.
 
Consider the FedExCup for what it is.
 
The majors are over. Everyone knows Woods is the best player who had the best year, winning the PGA Championship, two World Golf Championship stops and two strong PGA TOUR events. He is miles ahead of everyone else. Case closed.
 
Instead of playing out the string until the TOUR Championship -- which Woods skipped last year, by the way -- there are four good tournaments with the best players, a trophy available at each event. Whoever earns the most points wins something called the FedExCup.
 
It's not a green jacket. It's not a claret jug.
 
It's a new idea that just might be better than the old system.
 
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Updated Playoff Points
  • Full Coverage - Deutsche Bank Championship
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    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

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    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.