FedEx Cup all about big money too many complaints

By Doug FergusonSeptember 15, 2010, 10:02 pm

PGA TourLEMONT, Ill. – This is the week the PGA Tour goes dark, which comes at a great time.

If nothing else, it might give players a chance to take a deep breath of reality instead of complaining about all the problems that come with driving German-built luxury cars to golf tournaments where they compete for $35 million in bonus money.

Heck, it’s just as easy to lose perspective driving rental cars and getting by on $35 per diems.

Really, is it that bad?

The year before the FedEx Cup began, this was the week of the 84 Lumber Classic.

Winning the FedEx Cup is not as meaningful as winning a major, nor was it ever meant to be. The majors ended a month ago at the PGA Championship, about the time most people are supposed to lose interest in golf. What followed were three tournaments that showcased the best players of the year on the PGA Tour.

If you don’t understand the FedEx Cup – or choose not to learn – is any translation needed for Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Steve Stricker competing in the same tournament for three straight weeks? It’s the only time it happens all year.

The FedEx Cup concludes next week with the Tour Championship, a 30-man field for those who played great during the regular season (Jeff Overton), those who played their best late in the year (Charley Hoffman) and for players who did a little of both.

At stake is a $10 million bonus for the winner. At the very least, if the last player who made the 30-man field finishes in last place at East Lake, he gets $120,000 from the tournament purse and $175,000 from the bonus pool.

That’s $295,000, which is more than Arnold Palmer’s career earnings at the Masters.

Instead, there was too much complaining about Cog Hill, site of the third playoff event at the BMW Championship. Stewart Cink referred to it as a wreck. Phil Mickelson disguised his criticism by raving about Butler National, where he played Wednesday instead of the pro-am. Lefty conveniently left out that Butler is a private club with a maintenance budget three times greater than public Cog Hill.

And there remain gripes about the points system.

The points are quintuple the value when the playoffs begin, which creates the volatility some players said the system needed. It rewards those who have great weeks without unduly punishing those who played well all year.

It’s not perfect, and probably never will be.

Kevin Streelman probably doesn’t belong at East Lake next week, through no fault of his own. His best finish all year was a tie for third in Puerto Rico – the stars were at Doral that week – and he was No. 102 in the standings. He must have playoff fever, though, because he tied for third at The Barclays, and even though he tied for 45th in the next two events, he stayed in the top 30.

“The intent was for players to be playing well in the playoffs,” Streelman said. “That’s why the points are up so much. It’s a neat thing. If you’re playing good, your goals can change quickly.”

Overton is not playing well. Coming off his best year, he earned a spot on the Ryder Cup team and was No. 6 in the FedEx Cup. He missed the cut in one playoff event and didn’t crack the top 50 in the other two. He’s still No. 24, headed to Atlanta, as he should be.

The biggest complaints came from those were somewhere in the middle who forgot golf’s most famous adage: Play better.

Ian Poulter, who did very little after winning the Match Play Championship in February, began the playoffs at No. 49. He needed to play well at Cog Hill and was doing just that until a triple bogey on the 11th hole. He wound up at No. 39 in the points, then wrote on Twitter, “I finish in the top 30 on the money list and don’t get in tour championship. Are the playoffs any good?”

Apparently not for him.

J.B. Holmes was 18th when the playoff began, missed the cut at The Barclays and was tied for 60th at the BMW Championship.

“You take people who have played hard all year and they happen to have a bad couple of tournaments,” Holmes told Golfweek magazine. “I missed the cut and fall from 18th in points to 29th. How is that fair? It’s not fair at all.”

Not everyone will be happy with the points system, just like not everyone will like the same golf course.

The hope is that everyone on tour enjoys playing for a $7.5 million purse every week, with the $35 million in bonus money distributed at the end of this playoff system.

Ridiculous? You could say that.

Next they’ll want to keep their courtesy cars. The story making the rounds last week was a PGA Tour rookie who, despite instructions to leave the car at the tournament’s transportation office, dropped it off in a parking lot at Logan Airport and informed tournament officials that the keys were under the mat. Nice touch.

One tour official, obviously not in a position to affect policy, suggested designating one month out of the season where players rent their own car, do their own laundry and buy their own lunch.

They still would get a paycheck, along with a reality check.

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”