More than money is at stake in golf playoffs
The FedEx Cup playoffs, which start this week at Bethpage Black, have more at stake than the $10 million that goes to the winner.
The Associated Press
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The FedEx Cup was all about the $10 million bonus when it began in 2007 because there was little left to decide.
Tiger Woods was the best player in the world, and everyone knew it.
He already had won five times that year, including the PGA Championship. He already had earned $7.8 million on the PGA Tour, making it impossible for anyone to catch him on the season money list without winning all four playoff events, which was bordering on impossible. There was no debate on player of the year.
Golf is more unpredictable these days.
And that is what makes the FedEx Cup playoffs, which start Thursday at Bethpage Black, more compelling than $10 million to the winner.
Thanks to changes former U.S. captain Paul Azinger brought to the Ryder Cup — specifically, waiting three weeks to decide the captain's picks — the next two tournaments will serve as an audition for a half-dozen players trying to get on the team. Most observers think captain Davis Love III will use three of his four picks on Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.
Candidates for the fourth spot include Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Brandt Snedeker. Winning at Bethpage Black this weekend, or at TPC Boston in the second playoff event, could make it tough for Love to leave any of them out.
PGA Tour members vote on player of the year. The leading candidate for the award going into the playoffs is Rory McIlroy. Not to be forgotten is Woods, who has won three times this year; no one else has more than two.
Major winners Ernie Els, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson could make it a tighter race if they were to win the FedEx Cup, which means they would have to win another tournament.
Beyond the Ryder Cup and the Tour's biggest award, the FedEx Cup offers something for each of the 125 players who qualified — hope.
Heath Slocum was the only player who moved into the top 125 this week, moving up to No. 124.
The goal for Slocum is keep playing as long as he can — the top 100 go to the second round at TPC Boston, the top 70 to the third event in Indiana and the top 30 to the Tour Championship in Atlanta. There is no guarantee Slocum will have his PGA Tour card locked up when the playoffs are over.