FedEx Cup Playoffs make return to Liberty National

By Doug FergusonAugust 21, 2013, 1:54 am

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Jordan Spieth used words like ''incredible'' and ''amazing'' to describe Liberty National Golf Club.

He can be forgiven. He's only 20.

Spieth wasn't a member of any tour at the start of the year, and now he's taking part in the financial windfall known as the FedEx Cup playoffs. He has only been a full PGA Tour member for five weeks, not nearly long enough to learn how to complain.

No one used words like that when The Barclays was held at Liberty National four years ago.

Tiger Woods said it was ''interesting,'' a description that was subject to interpretation, though no one needed an interpreter. One player said the front nine didn't return to the clubhouse for fear no one would play the back nine. A caddie said golf course designers Bob Cupp and Tom Kite ruined a perfectly good landfill. And the jokes went on. It almost became a sport in itself, seeing who could deliver the best one-liner.


Video: What to expect at the FedEx Cup opener

The Barclays: Articles, videos and photos


No doubt, there were awkward sight lines off the tee to tight landing areas, and it didn't help that the rough was close to 4 inches. The slopes on some of the greens were severe and didn't hold shots. It needed some work, and billionaire club chairman Paul Fireman paid for them out of his own pocket. More on that later.

Lost amid the criticism of Liberty National was that it produced the best tournament of the 2009 playoff season. Heath Slocum won with a 20-foot par on the final hole, and while he remains the lowest-ranked player to win a playoff event at No. 124, the real measure was who he beat by one shot – Woods, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington.

Also overlooked was the history and location of Liberty National. Fireman developed the course on the site of a former landfill, and no other golf course screams out, ''New York, New York'' better. It sits on the shore of the Hudson River across from Lower Manhattan, so close to the Statue of Liberty that she looks as if she's holding one of those ''Quiet, Please'' signs. Dozens of players have been posting photos on Twitter of the views, from either the course or the water taxi over to Manhattan.

But there's a bigger picture.

The Barclays is the start of a four-tournament series with a total of $67 million in prize and bonus money – $8 million purses at each FedEx Cup playoff event, and $35 million in bonus money, with $10 million to the winner.

The greens were too severe? The course looked contrived? Really?

That's what annoyed Cristie Kerr.

The two-time LPGA major winner is a member at Liberty National, and she had heard enough. Kerr ran into a couple of players – Woods included - last year during a charity event and told them they weren't giving the course a chance.

''I talked to a couple of guys about how lucky they are to play on this stage, and to have a guy like Paul Fireman who will spend any amount of money to build the best course he can,'' Kerr said Sunday evening in Colorado. ''It didn't deserve to be beat up like that. They should be grateful to be there. For us women, we struggle to get sponsors. So it's tough to hear. I think they respect me and respect what I was saying. And I know a couple of guys apologized to the Firemans.''

Fireman said Woods approached him at the Deutsche Bank Championship last year and they had a nice conversation. He said Woods had heard about the changes to the golf course and looked forward to playing.

''Sometimes,'' Kerr said, ''you can get a little big for your britches. They just need to be thankful for the stage, for the money they play for and the TV coverage they get, and all the other things that come along that they get to do.''

She might have been referring to the rows of black BMW courtesy cars outside the clubhouse.

Fireman heard the good and the bad from four years ago – ''It wasn't that bad, but it definitely had a tone,'' he said – and instead of taking it personally, he took action. Five greens were rebuilt (the 12th green was rebuilt three times until they got it right). Others had the slopes significantly reduced. The landing areas were widened on nearly every hole. And the 18th green was moved some 20 yards closer to allow for better staging.

He paid for the changes himself.

''The most important thing is the course will show well,'' Fireman said. ''You can make it as tough as you want. We made it easier – not easy, but easier. My members love it, and I think I should worry about that first. I think we've done a great job. We've done everything we can do.''

Phil Mickelson also is a member, and Fireman leaned on him for advice. Mickelson's philosophy is to at least give players a shot at the green, even if they get into more trouble trying. His recommendation was largely about how to set up the course.

''What I said to Paul was if you were to play Augusta National and have 4-inch rough, you'd be miserable and the beauty of Augusta National would not come out,'' Mickelson said after an 18-hole practice round Tuesday. ''I felt that way about Liberty National. If you get rid of the rough and put the first cut in there, you always have a shot. Since he's done that, it has made Liberty National play so good.''

Mickelson said some of the complaints from 2009 were valid, ''but nobody articulated it well at the time. They just made the claim it was too hard, too severe.''

It's a different golf course. The reviews have been far more positive this week. The sights are as spectacular as ever.

The one thing that hasn't changed is that the players are still competing for an insane amount of money. This is no time to complain. It wasn't then, either.

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Watch: On 59 watch, Sneds dunks approach for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

Brandt Snedeker was having a good day in Round 1 of the Wyndham Championship. And then he reached the green a the par-4 sixth at Sedgefield Country Club and his day got even better.

Snedeker holed a 7-iron from 176 yards, on the fly, for an eagle-2. Playing his 15th hole of the day, Snedeker vaulted to 9 under par for the tournament.



With Sedgefield being a par 70, Snedeker needed two birdies over his final three holes to shoot 59 and he got one of them at the par-3 seventh, where he hit his tee shot on the 224-yard hole to 2 feet.



Snedeker actually had 58 in his cross hairs, but missed an 8-foot slider for birdie at the par-4 eighth.

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Rosaforte Report: A tale of two comebacks

By Tim RosaforteAugust 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Comeback (noun): A return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.

Even by definition, the word comeback is subjective.

There is no question that Brooks Koepka has completed his comeback. With two major championship victories that encompassed wins over Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods, Player of the Year honors have already been locked up for the 2017-18 season.

But knowing Koepka, he wants more. A No. 1 ranking, topping his boy D.J., is a possibility and a goal. A Ryder Cup is awaiting. By all rights, Koepka could be Comeback Player of the Year and Player of the Year all in one, except the PGA Tour discontinued its Comeback honor in 2012. Even without an official award, it’s fun to compare the cases of Koepka and Woods.

What Woods has recovered from is remarkable, but not complete. He hasn’t won yet. With triumphs in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Koepka has completed his comeback from a pair of wrist injuries that could have been equally as career-ending as the physical issues that Woods had to overcome just to contend in the last two majors.

“There was a question on whether or not I’d ever be the same,” Koepka said Sunday night in the media center at Bellerive, following his third major championship victory in six tries. “Whether I could do it pain-free, we had no idea.”



The wrist traumas occured five months apart, with the initial issue, which occured at the Hero World Challenge in December (in which he finished last in the limited field), putting him in a soft cast with a partially torn tendon. That cost the reigning U.S. Open champion 15 weeks on the shelf (and couch), including a start in the Masters.

His treatment included injecting bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma. When he returned at the Zurich Classic in April, Koepka revealed the ligaments that hold the tendon in place were gone – thus a dislocation – and that every time he went to his doctor, “it seemed like it got worse and worse.”

Koepka’s second wrist injury of the season occurred on the practice grounds at The Players, when a cart pulled in front of Koepka just as he was accelerating into the ball with his 120-plus mph club-head speed. Abruptly stopping his swing, Koepka’s left wrist popped out. His physio relayed a story to PGA Tour radio in which he advised Koepka before he reset the wrist: “Sit on your hand and bite this towel, otherwise you’re going to punch me.”

Koepka admitted that he never dreamed such a scenario would threaten his career. He called it, “probably the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through, setting that bone back.” But, testament to Koepka's fortitude, four days later he made an albatross and tied a TPC Sawgrass course record, shooting 63.

Woods’ physical – and mental – recovery from back surgery and prescription drug abuse was painful and career threatening in its own way. As he said in his return to Augusta, “Those are some really, really dark times. I’m a walking miracle.”

As amazing as it has been, Woods, by definition, still hasn’t fully completed his comeback. While he’s threatened four times in 2018, he hasn’t won a tournament.

Yes, it’s a miracle that he’s gotten this far, swinging the club that fast, without any relapse in his back. As electric and high-energy as his second-place finish to Koepka was at the PGA, Woods has made this winning moment something to anticipate. As story lines go, it may be better this way.

Coming off a flat weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone, Woods was starting to sound like an old 42-year-old. But instead of ice baths and recovery time, the conversation was charged by what he did on Saturday and Sunday in the 100th PGA.

A day later, there was more good news. With Woods committing to three straight weeks of FedExCup Playoff golf, potentially followed by a week off and then the Tour Championship, that moment of victory may not be far away.

Scheduling – and certainly anticipating – four tournaments in five weeks, potentially followed by a playing role at the Ryder Cup, would indicate that Woods has returned to the activity in which he was formally successful.

There were times post-scandal and post-back issues, that Woods stuck by the lines made famous by LL Cool J:

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers

Not this time. As he said Sunday before his walk-off 64 in St, Louis, “Oh, God. I didn’t even know if I was going to play again.”

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Actor/Comedian Kevin Nealon Joins "Feherty," Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 16, 2018, 1:15 pm

Actor/comedian Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live) will join David Feherty on his self-titled, Emmy-nominated series Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance®, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Filmed at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles last month, the episode will focus on numerous topics, including:

  • Nealon discussing his start in comedy in Los Angeles, where he worked as a bartender and filled in for comics who failed to show up for their act.
  • Reminiscing about his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984.
  • Reflecting on his nine-year run as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
  • Recounting the time when his golf ball struck Adam Sandler during a round they were playing with filming Happy Gilmore.
  • Recalling time spent with Arnold Palmer during the filming of a commercial a few years ago.

The following Monday (Aug. 27), Feherty will be joined by 20-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr at 9 p.m. ET, and then on Monday, Sept. 3 (9 p.m. ET), major champion Jimmy Walker will join as a guest for the series’ season finale.

A two-time Emmy-nominated host (Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host) Feherty has been described as “golf’s iconoclast,” by Rolling Stone, and “the last unscripted man on TV,” by Men’s Journal. His all-star lineup of golf-enthused and culturally relevant guests feature celebrities from across entertainment, sports and politics. To date, Feherty has sat down with four U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump); sports legends Charles Barkley, Nick Saban, Stephen Curry and Bobby Knight; Hollywood icons Matthew McConaughey, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson; World Golf of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson; and a host of current golf superstars including Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. Feherty is produced by Golf Channel’s original productions group, which also oversees production for Driver vs. Driver, Golf Films as well as the network’s instruction platforms.

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Thomas talks Tiger, plays 'Facebreakers' on 'Tonight Show'

By Grill Room TeamAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 pm

Justin Thomas didn't successfully defend his title at last week's PGA Championship, but he did get a guest spot on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Thomas appeared on the talk show Wednesday night and, of course, a primary topic was Tiger Woods' run at the Wanamaker Trophy.



Thomas also played a game of "Facebreakers" with host Fallon, in which both men tried to break panes of glass emblazoned with the other's face with golf shots. Thomas nearly took out the real Fallon on his first shot, and after several uncessful attempts by both men, massive cheating ensued.