Volatile FedExCup has the players attention

By Associated PressAugust 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. ' Padraig Harrington has won the last two majors and is considered the favorite to be voted Player of the Year on the PGA TOUR. But if he doesnt play well the next two weeks, he might not even make it to the Tour Championship.
 
Then theres Kevin Sutherland, who hasnt won in more than six years and has never made it to the TOUR Championship in his 13 years on tour. But he will tee off Friday in the Deutsche Bank Championship at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings.
 
The Tour wanted more volatility in the second year of its playoff system.
 
But this much?
 
Its definitely created some excitement among the players, Brett Quigley said Wednesday at the TPC Boston, site of the second round of the PGA TOUR Playoffs.
 
He later was asked for a different description than excitement, and Quigley smiled.
 
Concern interest, he said. I think last year they didnt have the points system quite right with guys not being able to move enough, a la Rich Beem. And this year, it seems like the players think its a little too much movement. But certainly, theyve created some drama. Some guys are going to be thinking about just making the cut this week; guys wouldnt probably be thinking about that normally.
 
A year ago, Beem tied for seventh at The Barclays and barely advanced to the second round, moving from No. 134 to No. 113. Under this years points system, Beem would have moved up to No. 70.
 
The top 120 made it to the Deutsche Bank Championship, and only the top 70 after this week advance to the third round in St. Louis. There are only 115 players at the TPC Boston because of injuries (Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Alex Cejka) and two Europeans who are playing in Scotland this week (Lee Westwood, Justin Rose).
 
Kenny Perry, who effectively began this postseason as the No. 1 seed with Woods out for the year, already began complaining about having three victories and not making it to the TOUR Championship. But he tied for 48th and slipped only to No. 7.
 
The one who should worry is Harrington, the British Open and PGA champion, who missed the cut last week at The Barclays and plunged all the way from No. 4 to No. 23. Another missed cut at Boston and hell be out of the top 30.
 
But the Irishman isnt worried at all. He actually likes the wild shifts in the standings.
 
I think its a fair reflection that I dropped about 20 spots by missing the cut, Harrington said. I think it should be very volatile. Thats what a playoff system should be like. Youve got to go produce.
 
If he could change one thing, Harrington would make it even more combustible by awarding big points to the top 10 finishers in a tournament, minimal points for those barely making the cut.
 
Either way, he came to one conclusion in Year 2 of this system.
 
I think the FedExCup is working, he said. Its got more players out here playing, more players interested at this time of the year. Its creating a bit of a buzz. If players arent exactly happy with the system at the moment no press is bad press. Something like that. People are talking about it, and thats the main thing.
 
Vijay Singh won The Barclays last week in a playoff over Sergio Garcia and Sutherland, and they now are Nos. 1-2-3 and will be in the same group the first two rounds on the TPC Boston.
 
Perhaps the biggest surprise ' and the poster boy for how quickly the standings can change ' is Martin Laird. The rookie from Scotland was at No. 164 going into the last tournament before the playoffs, then tied for fourth in Greensboro to barely qualify at No. 128. Laird then tied for seventh at The Barclays and moved all the way up to No. 67.
 
I was thinking of going home to Scotland probably for 10 days or so over those first two tournaments, seeing the family, taking a break, recharging and coming back, Laird said. But those plans changed.
 
Count him among the proponents of change.
 
Obviously, I love it, he said. And Im sure theres a few guys that dont love it. But you know, its the playoffs. Its like any sport. You play to get there, and when you get there, its whoever is playing best at that time that comes out on top.
 
But there was another wrinkle that some grad students over at MIT might what to calculate.
 
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen was the 144th and final player to qualify for the postseason. He tied for 48th last week, moving up to No. 119 to barely get into the Deutsche Bank. Say he finishes 10th the next two weeks and narrowly makes it to the TOUR Championship, where he finishes last.
 
Is it possible that Janzen could qualify for the TOUR Championship, but still not earn enough money at the end of the year to finish in the top 125 and keep his card? Quigley said.
 

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    Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

    Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

    “I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

    Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

    Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

    “I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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    Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

    After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

    It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

    “A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

    “My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

    Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

    “I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

    Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

    Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

    “As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.