On PGA Tour, points can be worth more than money

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2016, 7:17 pm

This marks the 10th season of the FedEx Cup era, and while playoffs and points and even split-calendar seasons – the latter of which came along in 2013 – have become the status quo on the PGA Tour there are still parts of the new math that require analysis.

Money lists, the standard for success for decades at the highest level, have been replaced by points lists for all manner of benchmarks – from the basic drive to keep one’s job (top 125) to qualifying for many of the game’s biggest events (top 30).

The last vestiges of cash will likely be benched for good following initial approval by the policy board of a proposal to nix exemptions for players who finish inside the top 125 in earnings but not points.

While points have become the norm among today’s Tour players, that doesn’t mean the system is perfect.

Although the Tour uses simple math to calculate the points breakdown each week, it’s not a perfect comparison to how cash is doled out.

Look at Gary Woodland’s run the past few weeks. After dropping to 84th on the points list when he missed the cut at Bay Hill, he tied for 33rd in Houston and yet remained 84th on the list. He then followed that with a tie for 20th that included a drop of 10 spots (to 94th on the list).

The next week at the Wells Fargo Championship he tied for 24th and moved up eight spots to 86th.

Go figure.

Essentially, the percentage of FedEx Cup points awarded to players is not the same as the percentage of money, with a tendency to reward middle-of-the-pack performances with points.

“If you get as golf sicko as I do sometimes, you can lay out the money list in one column and the FedEx Cup [points] list in another column and look at the difference,” Charles Howell III said. “Look, every player has to play under the same rules, I understand that, and every player can get benefit or hurt [from the differences].”

Consider the plight of Greg Owen, who currently holds down the 125th spot in earnings, but is 133rd on the points list. Jamie Donaldson is 124th in cash, 135th in points. Bud Cauley is 126th in money, 153rd on the FedEx Cup list.

You get the point – no pun intended – the lists are riddled with disparities.

Endless hours of studying the points list has brought Howell to the conclusion that to make the most of each start a player needs to finish around 35th place or better each week.

 “If you look at the points breakdown, after that it really falls off fast. If your floor is at 35th, 36th if you’re able to finish above that you’re able to move along well,” Howell said last week at TPC Four Seasons.

The distribution of money is weighted more toward top finishes. For example, based on 70 players making the cut and no ties, a 10th-place finish is worth 2.7 percent of the purse; while that same finish is worth just .021 percent of the available FedEx Cup points.

“It’s not a perfect system and I honestly don’t know how you would do it unless you went back to money, which, for my generation, we were all so used to seeing money,” Howell said. “I understand the FedEx Cup and I understand why they want to do it more based on equality than strength of purse, if you will, per tournament, I get all that.”

For Howell, his season is a portrait of how the system is tilted toward steady play if not a spectacular week. In 19 starts, he’s finished outside of that magic top-35 position just six times and ranks 24th on the FedEx Cup points list, yet his best finish is a tie for fourth at last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

The FedEx Cup system and how points are distributed – which officials are currently reviewing – is focused more on rewarding consistency while money is allotted with a focus on finishes within the top 10; and Howell explains he’s been on the wrong side of the FedEx Cup math before, like in 2012 when he finished 84th on the points list after making 20 of 29 cuts but posted just eight top-25 finishes.

He also points out that it’s hard to debate how the system measures the game’s elite.

“It does evaluate the best players. They are always going to be [Nos.] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,” he said.

For Howell, the points list and how it differs from earnings is a study in perspectives, like most things in golf.

“I have a lot of things that go through my head about this game,” he laughs. “This game’s going to get us all eventually, right? We are all eventually headed to the same nut house.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”