Day 4 Playoffs Debut on PGA TOUR

By Brian HewittDecember 26, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's note; In the holiday spirit, the GolfChannel.com Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 4
 
Day 4If the PGA TOURs braintrust had been in a position to order up a dream scenario for the inaugural FedExCup, here are a few of the items they would have selected right off the menu:
 
  • Tiger Woods winning the thing but not being assured of the first place 10 million dollars in deferred money until the fourth and final week of what was called the playoffs.
     
    Steve Stricker
    Steve Stricker won the first Playoff event at The Barclays. (WireImage)
  • Tiger and Phil Mickelson battling each other late Sunday of at least one of the playoff tournaments.
     
  • A human interest story like, say, the likeable Steve Stricker winning an early playoff event and staying in the hunt for the $10 million almost until the end.
     
  • A little controversy to make the whole thing a little more tense and believable (in Hollywood they call this, driving the plot) like, say, Woods skipping the first event and Mickelson bailing on the third.
     
    The TOUR got all of these items, good service from the networks and the golf media and the best table at the moveable feast that was the FedExCups sumptuous first-year buffet.
     
    The early tip-off that everything was going to break the TOUR and FedExs way?
     
    Rory Sabbatini.
     
    Yes, Rory Listen Up, Tiger Sabbatini.
     
    Sabbatini is a brash, loud and impolitic young South African who generates publicity wherever he goes. His mouth is big enough to get both feet into it. And he performs this contortion on a regular basis.
     
    He is impossible to ignore which was a perfect thing for the FedExCups playoff debut when Sabbatini fashioned a stylish 63 to lead the first round of the first event of the first FedExCup ever played.
     
    The date was August 23, 2007. You could say it was a day on which the golf landscape changed forevermore. And you would be stretching the truth. But it was a day, and a concept and a first round leader to which you had to pay attention.
     
    I would say Im getting close to getting to the top level, Sabbatini said after taking a one-shot Thursday lead over Rich Beam and K.J. Choi Thursday at the Barclays. I keep opening the door and keep slamming it on my foot every time I step through. Its just a matter of time before I break through and get to that top level. Thats the way I look at it.
     
    By the end of the week Stricker had wrested the spotlight and victory away from Sabbatini and the event wasnt too much worse the wear for Woods absence.
     
    Tiger showed up the second week at Deutsche Bank Championship and got dusted by two shots by Mickelson. Suddenly it was game on. And suddenly the complicated FedExCup point formulas that had players scratching their heads much of the year began coming into focus.
     
    Mickelson even hinted that working with Butch Harmon, Tigers former coach, had given him an opportunity to learn a few of Tigers secrets from Harmon. That, of course, provided even more grist for the hungry mill.
     
    Then Mickelson skipped Week Three, the BMW Championship in Chicago. Woods romped. Then Tiger destroyed the field at the Tour Championship, the fourth and final playoff event. And the $10 million was his.
     
    Only time will tell whether the FedExCup was lucky or smart in its first year to get such a winning mix of compelling story lines and brilliant golf. But already the tweaking has begun.
     
    The TOUR subsequently and wisely changed next years schedule to give the players a week off after the third playoff event (which is also the week before the Ryder Cup) before concluding again with the TOUR Championship.
     
    Many players, despite the fact that the smart money people on Wall St. will tell you theyre dead wrong, complained about the deferred first place money. So next year the $10 million FedExCup winners share will comprise nine million in cash and one million in deferred comp.
     
    Commissioner Tim Finchem says there may still be changes in the points system once the playoffs begin next year, but the system that determines the 144 players that make the playoffs wont change.
     
    If the FedExCup wasnt a smashing success in its first year, it converted more than a few critics. It deserves an A- or a B+ at worst in a year when many experts were predicting a C would have been a good thing.
     
    Related Links:
  • Playoffs Finally Underway at The Barclays
  • Golf Central Special: Grading the FedExCup
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown
  • Getty Images

    Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

    Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

    Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

    Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

    “I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

    Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

    “I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

    Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

    “No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

    Getty Images

    Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

    Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

    “We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

    “I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

    Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

    “Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

    The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

    “We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

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    Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

    The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

    Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

    Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

    “We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”