FedEx extends cup sponsorship; changes expected

By Rex HoggardMay 9, 2017, 12:15 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – An experiment that was widely scrutinized when it was introduced in 2007 entered its second decade with a flourish on Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a 10-year extension with FedEx to sponsor the Tour’s season-long points race through 2027. Although the commissioner declined to give specifics of the new agreement, which currently includes a bonus pool of $35 million with $10 million going to the cup champion, he did indicate there would be an increase.

“There's still some other moving parts that we need to get to before we'll be able to announce any additional changes, but as we go forward, we expect the cup and the payout to increase significantly,” Monahan said.

The current deal with FedEx, which also is the title sponsor of the Tour’s event in Memphis, ran through this season and the “other moving parts” Monahan referred to are generally believed to be a comprehensive schedule makeover that would include the FedEx Cup Playoffs ending on Labor Day, The Players moving back to March and the PGA Championship possibly heading to May.

Although Monahan did nothing to indicate how far along the Tour is with the schedule changes, Patrick Fitzgerald, FedEx’s senior vice president of integration and marketing who was at the announcement, gave some insight into the Tour’s current track.

“There is some exciting potential when you look at the schedule and other things, but I don't know what the best answer will be yet,” Fitzgerald said. “They have a very clear view of some potential things that could change and how that would affect things. So I'm confident that if the schedule changes, it will be in the best interest of golf and of the FedEx Cup.”

Fitzgerald was also asked about the impact of Tiger Woods’ continued health issues and how they could impact the Tour and the FedEx Cup moving forward, but as the company’s 10-year agreement indicates FedEx didn’t see a potential post-Woods era as an overwhelming concern.

“When you look at the young stars of today's PGA Tour and the talent that's there, I would say there is no more exciting time about the future of the game based on the players that are rising to the top of the Tour right now,” Fitzgerald said. “Especially when you consider the international representation that's there, and that's really helping to transform the popularity on a global scale of the game, and that's very exciting for us as a global business.”

The new agreement assures continuity of the cup for at least 21 years, which is one of the longest running endorsement partnerships in sports (Winston-sponsored NASCAR’s season-long race to various degrees for the better part of three decades), and the importance of continuity was a cornerstone of Tuesday’s announcement.

“It's critical, and I think it's a historic day,” said Monahan, who took over as commissioner from Tim Finchem in January. “Having one of the best companies on this planet make this commitment to our Tour and put us in a position where we're going to grow in many ways, not just the cup but the impact of our business model and all the communities where we play and really be able to do some things in the future we think are going to allow us to continue to elevate not just the Tour but the game.”

Rory McIlroy won the FedEx Cup last September, and the season-long race has gained traction among fans, and perhaps more importantly, the players.

“It’s a lifetime to have an extension of this magnitude, not just 10 years but it’s the money and what they do on a yearly basis. It’s mind blowing,” said Billy Horschel, who won the FedEx Cup in 2014. “They are trusting in the PGA Tour and its product to deliver and show what we can offer.”

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”