Golf Tidbits: Another boring finish for FedEx Cup
Kevin Currie, Golf Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The PGA Tour tweaked the points system for the FedEx Cup playoffs after year one, and is going to have to do some more adjusting after year two.
What the tour did not account for was a player getting hot and winning two events. Let's recap.
Year One, Tiger Woods skipped the first event, finished second in the second tournament and won the final two stages of the four-event playoffs. He didn't even need to win The Tour Championship, the fourth and final playoff event, to win the $10 million FedEx Cup payday.
Year Two, Vijay Singh wins the first two events, then stumbles to a 44th place finish in the third event. The Tour Championship will be held next weekend and Singh only needs to complete all four rounds to clinch the huge paycheck for winning the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Knowing Singh's fitness regime and legendary practice sessions, he'd play all four rounds one-handed if necessary.
After the first year, the points system was revamped so that when the playoffs began and points were re-set, there were smaller differentials between each position on the points list. Then more points were added to the playoff events so that more players had a chance to win the playoffs.
Last year, the points available were 9,000 for the first three events, and 10,300 for The Tour Championship. This year, the points breakdown is 11,000 for the first three and 12,500 for The Tour Championship.
The tour attempted to make the playoffs more unpredictable as the fields shrink from event to event. The first tournament has a 144-player field, then 120, then 70 and finally 30.
In 2007, just two players moved from the first event to the second. This year, 15 players advanced to the second week. So the obvious attempt at creating volatility worked. But, since Singh only needs to finish four rounds this week, more adjusting needs to occur.
Singh only finished 44th last week, but entering that event, players ranked between fifth and 24th on the points list had a chance to pass Singh for the FedEx Cup title. Players in that group more or less had to win both tournaments and have Singh finish near the bottom both times for them to have a chance at passing the point's leader.
However, no one in that group won last week. Camilo Villegas entered last week's event ranked 25th and jumped to second on the points list by picking up his first tour win at the BMW Championship. A dramatic move indeed, but he is still 10,601 points behind Singh.
The winner of The Tour Championship will collect 12,500 points, while the player in 30th place in the 30-player field collected 2,000 points.
If for some reason, Singh cannot complete all four rounds at The Tour Championship, only Villegas and Sergio Garcia could pass him to win the FedEx Cup. Both of those players would need to win The Tour Championship.
The PGA Tour never said the playoff system they put in place was perfect; therefore, tour officials will continue to maneuver things until they are as close to perfect as possible.
The detriment to all the change is that the players themselves don't always know what is going on.
"I read the releases and things saying there were changes to make it more volatile and you could move. But in terms of the actual points and how big a move I could make, I didn't know. I didn't really study it that much," said Martin Laird, prior to the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second playoff event.
There are several ways to again change the points system, but the most feasible way to give more players a better shot at winning the big prize at the end of the playoffs is to increase the points available from week to week.
Currently, each of the first three events is worth 11,000 points, while the final tournament awards 12,500 points to the winner. To give more players a chance at winning the FedEx Cup title, there needs to be a weekly increase.
Use the above point totals for the first two events, then make the third event worth 14,000 and the fourth event 16,000 total points. Even a subtle change like that dramatically increases the chances for more players.
Keep trying PGA, you'll get it right sooner or later.
Michelle Wie was back in the news this week, as she has entered the first stage of the LPGA Tour qualifying school. The 18-year-old was on her way to becoming an afterthought on the LPGA Tour.
She first appeared on the LPGA Tour at the age of 13. By the time she turned 16, Wie seemed to be on the fast track to stardom.
In 2006 when she was still a 16-year-old amateur, Wie was playing lights-out golf. She finished in the top-three in each of the first three major championships and tied for second at the Evian Masters, one of the biggest non-majors on the LPGA Tour.
Later that year Wie turned professional, then in early '07 she suffered her first injury. Since she hurt her wrist, Wie has missed seven cuts over the past two seasons, withdrawn from two other tournaments and was disqualified from another.
Rather than undergoing surgery on her wrist, Wie tried rest and rehab. That was not a wise decision as her scoring average in 2007 ballooned to 76.71. That average was for 21 rounds, two of which were on the PGA Tour. It also does not include the 80-something score she was on her way to posting prior to her controversial withdrawal from the Ginn Tribute, hosted by Annika Sorenstam.
That week, Wie withdrew due to the wrist injury, but some thought it was because she was afraid she would not be able to break 88. If Wie was unable to break 88, per LPGA Tour rules, she would have been ineligible for all tour events the remainder of the year.
This season, Wie's scoring average dipped to 71.59 in 22 rounds. Her tie for 12th at the Canadian Women's Open was her best LPGA Tour finish since tying for second at the 2006 Evian Masters.
After using all six sponsors exemptions this year and not earning enough money to earn her LPGA Tour card, Wie heads to Q-School trying to gain status for the 2009 season. As it stands right now, Wie would again need those sponsors exemptions to play on the LPGA Tour next season.
- Wie's fellow Hawaiian Tadd Fujikawa is going through some tough times of his own. He missed the cut in all five starts - three on the PGA Tour and two on the European Tour - this season. Last week, Fujikawa's father was arrested on possession and dealing drugs. One report had the elder Fujikawa facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
- More baby news on the PGA Tour and another interesting name. Chad Campbell and his wife had their first child last week. They named their son Dax Phillip.