After Further Review: Wraparound season needs fixing

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the PGA Tour's lack of playing opportunities for grads, why the LPGA needs an event in Rochester and a farewell to one of the PGA Tour's good guys.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem spoke to an assembled group of media Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, taking the time to extoll the virtues of the wraparound season he helped to create.

While he identified that access to tournaments for Tour graduates is a “weakness,” he also added the Tour has no plans to make any changes to address the issue next year.

The Tour may hope this was a “one-year phenomenon,” as Finchem put it, but such an approach is myopic and will result in players, media and Tour officials alike having the same discussion in 12 months.

The first year of the wraparound only proved to top-100 players the value of getting off to a fast start in the FedEx Cup points race – just look at how Jimmy Walker’s season played out – so it’s unlikely that big names will opt now to sit out the early events en masse.

While some slight increases to field sizes for fall events will help, the fact remains that while the players who survive the gauntlet of the Tour Finals next month will receive a PGA Tour card, whether they’ll be able to put it to much use is uncertain. – Will Gray

It’s clear the PGA Tour’s new qualifying system is more closed than ever before.

This week’s Wyndham Championship marked the end of the circuit’s first full season under the new system, and the biggest flaw with the new format appears to be a severe lack of playing opportunities for the graduates from the Tour Finals.

Consider that the final 10 players who earned their Tour cards at last year’s Finals averaged 15.4 starts. It’s no surprise that not a single player out of those final 10 managed to finish inside the top 125 on the regular season FedEx Cup point list. – Rex Hoggard

The LPGA has to find its way back to Rochester. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe it's Rochester that has to find a way to bring back the LPGA.

Really, it all boils down to finding a title sponsor that wants to host a regular tour event here again. It's that simple, because this community's love affair with the LPGA can't end.

It's not right that they should be kept apart after 38 terrific years. Rochester embraced the tour again Sunday, sending the women off in style, with big galleries, a picturesque sunny day and a big-bang fireworks show after the trophy presentation.

Let's hope it wasn't goodbye. Let's hope it's just a temporary parting. – Randall Mell

Joe Ogilvie was never the most talented PGA Tour player inside the ropes, but the Duke University graduate has always been one of the smartest, as proven by his insightful candor during interviews and passionate long-term career goals.

In 15 years as a Tour pro, he won once, but will be better remembered as a man who always had an opinion on the direction of the Tour and someday wanted to be named commissioner.

Instead, Ogilvie will retire and move into investment banking. Following his final round, he tweeted, "Damn lucky to be a part of the traveling circus/family that is the PGA Tour for the last 15 years."

Consider the rest of us damn lucky, as well, to have a guy who always tried to make the PGA Tour a better place. – Jason Sobel

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”

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Watch: Wagner saves season with walk-off eagle dunk

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 2:45 am

Johnson Wagner kept his FedExCup Playoff hopes alive on Friday at the Wyndham Championship ... and he did it in dramatic fashion.

Needing a birdie on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number, Johnson used a 9-iron from 153 yards out to dunk his approach for eagle to get inside the cut line.

Johnson's eagle at the last gave him a 66 for the day and earned him two more rounds to try and get inside the FedExCup top 125 for next week's start of the postseason, The Northern Trust.