McIlroy, Woods have shot at Tour Champ. and $10 million

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2012, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – Bless Steve Sands’ heart and his magic Sharpie, but Sunday at East Lake will not be about math.

It never is. Truth is it can’t be.

“You don’t really know what’s going on because there are so many variables,” said Matt Kuchar, who should know. He’s arrived at East Lake, a home game for the Georgia Tech alum, the last two years with all manner of mathematical possibilities.

It’s not that Tour types don’t care about the FedEx Cup, as if 10 million reasons to pine for something wasn’t enough, as much as it is an inability to comprehend what needs to be done. Those computations are best left to MIT grads and super computers.

In one breath Rory McIlroy, your projected points leader and one of four players within three strokes of the lead, gushed – “It’s probably going to be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year.”

In the next beat he put the season-long scramble in context – “This is nothing compared to going into the final round of a major with the lead.”

The projections are so arcane that last year’s champion Bill Haas asked during the 2011 awards ceremony why both trophies, the Tour Championship crystal and FedEx Cup silver, were awaiting him, unaware his playoff victory over Hunter Mahan had delivered both chalices.

On Sunday at the Tour Championship it will be the talking heads and Tour tacticians who will feverishly dissect the litany of scenarios, not the players. In their defense good golf and endless deliberations are very much mutually exclusive.

In short form the possibilities are rather straightforward. If McIlroy, Tiger Woods or Brandt Snedeker – who are all inside the top 10 through 54 – win the Tour Championship, the cup and cash are theirs.

Anything beyond that is long division.

Consider that for Justin Rose, who is tied with Snedeker for the lead at 8 under par, to win the cup McIlroy must finish worse than 15th, Woods must be outside the top five, Snedeker in a three-way tie for second or worse and Phil Mickelson needs to be no better than a tie for third . . . stop me when it hurts.

By comparison the BCS formula of yesteryear was coloring by numbers.

“All the money and awards come from winning championships,” Woods said simply. The only two-time winner of the $10 million lottery ticket speaks from experience, which would explain what could only be called a rebound round on a gusty Saturday.

It was 67 the hard way for Woods, plenty of missed greens and missed opportunities but when he signed his card he found himself wedged center stage. And that’s the beauty of golf’s faux postseason.

All the projections in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., add up to one truth – the playoffs have again delivered interest where before there was none. The confounding calculations mean little to those who crisscrossed East Lake on Saturday. All that mattered to the masses was that the game’s top players are participating in meaningful golf past Labor Day.

Beyond the math the general ideas were simple enough. McIlroy wins and he wraps up the Player of the Year trophy and further solidifies his spot as the new top dog, not to mention adding an extra level of intrigue to next week’s Ryder Cup.

Woods wins and he matches McIlroy’s haul of four Tour titles and wrests the Player of the Year voting out of foregone-conclusion territory, not to mention sending an unmistakable message to Greg Norman, who opined earlier this week that the former world No. 1 was “intimidated” by the current world No. 1 (McIlroy).

For Rose it’s another high-profile bottlecap on a burgeoning resume, and a Snedeker victory would be a fitting exclamation point after an injury-riddled few seasons as well as an emotional tribute to Tucker Anderson, the son of Snedeker’s longtime swing coach, who is recovering in an Atlanta-area hospital following a near-fatal car crash two weeks ago.

In fact, it was Snedeker who admitted that all of the potential Sunday scenarios would likely lead to a “restless night.”

Not to mention the possibility of a possible preview to a potential uber-match between Woods and McIlroy next Sunday at Medinah.

Or a sudden-death playoff, for the Tour Championship or FedEx Cup – yes, it can happen with the likes of Jim Furyk, the 2010 FedEx champion who rinsed his tee shot on No. 17 on Saturday for a triple bogey to fall out of the lead, still looming just three strokes back.

Straightforward, uncontrived, uncalculated drama that is usually the domain of majors and Ryder Cups, not limited-field gatherings in the early fall. It’s all there: no math, just meaningful golf.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.”