Good FedEx Cup Karma

By Rex HoggardSeptember 27, 2010, 3:49 am
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA – Last year’s Tour Championship is best recalled as the perfect storm. The PGA Tour’s best-case scenario with Tiger Woods hoisting FedEx Cup silver after dueling down the Sunday stretch with Phil Mickelson, who lifted crystal at East Lake, the childhood stomping grounds of Bobby Jones who was fittingly born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1902.

But if East Lake had exceeded its luck quotient, the 2010 edition may well be remembered as the year of karma’s great make good, with the cosmic tumblers playing catch up for a bad cell phone alarm and an equally bad captain’s choice.

In order Paul Casey finished tied for fourth, two shots and a little help away from a $10 million jackpot yet buoyed by the fact that despite European captain Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup slight he is indeed one of the world’s best.

Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk not only captured his third victory of 2010, but also clinched the coveted FedEx Cup. (Getty Images)

“I gave it everything I had,” said Casey of his Sunday charge, but he may as well have been talking about his Ryder Cup snub.

So did Jim Furyk, but that’s nothing new. The ultimate grinder, the consummate professional closed with weekend 70s and held off Luke Donald to score the ultimate trifecta – the Tour Championship, his third tilt of 2010, the FedEx Cup and a $10 million mulligan for a missed pro-am tee time and a messy disqualification.

“Three wins is very, very special to me,” said Furyk, who was disqualified from the first playoff event in New Jersey after missing his pro-am tee time, a rule that his since been suspended by the Tour. “I was very disappointed in ’08 and ’09 (not winning). To turn that around and get three wins this year is special.”

For four days that started sweltering and ended with a splat Furyk was, well Furyk. But machine-like is too cold, too calculating to be accurate. There was far too much emotion in his victory celebration on the 72nd green to characterize his performance as simply clinical. But it was, at least statistically.

For the week he was first in putts made distance, a mind-blowing 64 for 67 on putts from 10 feet and in, tied for seventh in fairways hit and first in greens in regulation. Translation, somewhere U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin is smiling.

But of all Furyk’s ShotLink dominance it was his perfection from East Lake’s bunkers that ultimately delivered Tour title No. 16. He was 9 for 9 from the sand, including a 52-foot bunker shot at the last that sailed to 2 feet for a closing par. A $10 million blast, not to belabor the point, to finish bogey-bogey-gritty par.

“We knew we had to make par or play more holes,” Furyk’s caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan said. “And I don’t think I had too many (holes) left in me.”

But then a playoff was just one of a dizzying number of scenarios that covered everything from the FedEx Cup champion to the player of the year.

The Tour wanted East Lake to matter. Instead, minutia mattered, with attention focused on Matt Kuchar’s ability to par the last two holes and finish alone in 25th, of all places.

Kuchar, the points leader heading into East Lake, bogeyed the last from the same bunker that nearly did in Furyk, Nick Watney cooled following a lengthy weather delay and Steve Stricker joined Kuchar at 5 over – tied for 25th, a mathematical blow that knocked Kuchar out of the cup picture.

“No, seriously,” Stricker said when he learned that his closing 75 had ended Kuchar’s cup chances. “I’m sorry Matt. I was just telling him in the locker room, ‘You’re looking great. You can still win this thing.’”

It may ease Kuchar’s pain, if not Stricker’s, that he would only have had a chance to collect the cup had Watney won the Tour Championship. Such was the minutiae of the fourth FedEx Cup.

There were enough compelling undercards to make any Ryder Cup captain have regrets. Casey and Watney, who played his middle nines on the weekend (closing-nine 28 on Saturday and opening 30 on Sunday) in 58 strokes, both were overlooked as potential captain’s picks for this week’s matches and both had chances to cash the $10 million lotto ticket late Sunday.

Watney played his final nine in 2 over and tied for fourth place while Casey, who would have clinched the Question Cup with a solo second-place finish, bogeyed the 17th to tie with Watney.

Not that many, if any, were able to keep track.

“It’s impossible to be aware of the situation,” Kuchar said. “Who could? Maybe some kid in front of a computer.”

The FedEx Cup is not perfect. Was never going to be, what with Woods absent from the finale and Mickelson, who tied for 22nd, seemingly here only in spirit. But point systems do work, 8 million NASCAR fans can’t be wrong.

Nor did the minutia or confusion seem to matter to Furyk, who becomes the first player since Woods in 2007 to win both the Tour Championship and the cup.

His opening rounds of 67-65 were solid but his bookend 70s on the weekend were downright Furyk-like thanks to a used putter he purchased off the rack in Boston and a grinding style perfectly suited to the rigors of Sunday’s soggy finish.

“If all it took was heart, he’d win every week,” Cowan said. “He’s a great competitor.”

And for those who still question how meaningful a $10 million cash grab is to a group of millionaires check out Furyk’s 72nd-hole reaction on YouTube. The normally stoic Furyk erupted with a Tiger-esque fist pump. It was the most telling sign to date that the cup matters, at least to players.

“Forty years from now there will be a lot of history in (the FedEx Cup),” Furyk said. “To have my name with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh (the 2008 cup champion), those guys can play. It’s special.”

Confusing, a bit contrived, but special nonetheless.

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

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Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka

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Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 4:24 am

Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.

Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.

Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.

And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.