One week produces big jumps in FedEx Cup

By Doug FergusonSeptember 2, 2010, 2:50 am
PGA Tour (75x100)NORTON, Mass. –Matt Kuchar rose to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings after the first playoff event, and no one was quibbling about that. After a solid year, he beat one of the strongest fields of the year at The Barclays.

The new question facing this playoff system is whether too much is made of finishing second.

Martin Laird made the biggest jump in the standings last week, going up 92 places to No. 3 for his runner-up finish at Ridgewood. It was only his third top-10 finish of the year, and it came at a good time. Barring a big collapse, he is likely to get into the Tour Championship for the top 30 players, assuring him a spot in the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.

And then there’s Kevin Streelman.

He had only three top 10s all year, one of them at an opposite-field event. He came into the playoffs at No. 102 and was not assured of making it out of the first round. But he played well – that’s what the playoffs are all about – and tied for third at The Barclays, moving him up 84 spots to No. 18.

Streelman finished one shot better than Vaughn Taylor, who started at No. 38 and now is three spots behind Streelman at No. 21.

Does that sound about right?

“I don’t think – I know – that’s too many points,” Ben Crane said about the jumps made by Laird and Streelman. “We should aspire to answer the question of who’s playing the best golf. You don’t want to answer the question of who had a hot week. The jump probably should be more gentle. A big jump should be for playing great for two weeks.”

Tiger Woods made a moderate jump, but it was good enough. With a tie for 12th at The Barclays, he went from No. 112 to No. 65, and now has a reasonable chance of making it to the third round.

Woods arrived at the TPC Boston on Tuesday for a session on the range. The tour has projected he would need to finish somewhere around 50 at the Deutsche Bank Championship to move on.

Crane holds nothing against Laird or Streelman. Everyone knew how the points worked when the playoffs began. And he finds it to be a 100 percent improvement from two years ago, when the incentive for the world’s best player was simple to make the cut. Several players referred to that system as the “Michelle Wie Cup.”

Even so, Crane is among those who wonder whether there’s too much of a reward for finishing second or third. He won at Torrey Pines this year and came into the playoffs at No. 12. Crane tied for 12th, five shots behind the leaders, and moved up one spot.

“It is a severe jump,” Stewart Cink said. “Do they award 18 percent to the winner like prize money? What about using 20 percent for the winner and 10 percent for second?”

Cink likes the system, and one thing everyone would agree to is that no system will be without flaws. Even so, he also was troubled that players could make such a quantum leap without winning.

Andres Romero started the playoffs at No. 115. With four birdies on his last five holes – the last one from 40 feet—he moved up to No. 100 to earn the last spot in the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which starts Friday.

By finishing third at the TPC Boston, he could move up to as high as No. 15 and be on the fast track to East Lake.

“That renders the regular season useless,” Cink said.

Then again, that’s what the playoffs are supposed to be all about—playing the best golf toward the end of the year. What troubles Crane, Cink and other players is that one good week – even if it’s not a victory – could be all it takes to reap a significant reward by going to the Tour Championship.

Everyone knows what’s at stake in the four playoff events, just as everyone knows what’s at stake at the four majors. They are playing for history in the majors. They are playing for the chance at big money (a $35 million bonus pool) and big perks in the playoffs.

Streelman knew what he was up against. If he played poorly in the opening playoff event, he was headed home for a month.

“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.”

He was hopeful of going to Boston. Now, Streelman is assured of getting to the third round outside Chicago, where he grew up. And there’s a decent chance of going to the Tour Championship for the first time.

All because he tied for third in the first playoff event.

For all the debate, the Deutsche Bank Championship offers another strong field, with 37 of the top 50 in the world. The other 13 players are not PGA Tour members.

“How good is this for golf?” Crane said.

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.