golf doesn't have many days in the sun, but Sunday's fabulous climax to the
Solheim Cup was one of them.
the highly-fancied US team being steadily overhauled by the European was every
bit as dramatic and inspiring as last year's Ryder Cup.
aggressive shotmaking, outstanding shotmaking and thrills aplenty as the hosts turned
defeat into victory in the course of a memorable final 45 minutes.
gripping, unmissable stuff, not because we were witnessing the best players in
the world (in the women's game, Asian golfers dominate) but because it was
broadcasters continue to pressurise the major Tours over increasing the amount
of matchplay in the professional diet. Viewers want to see the big names all
week, the argument goes.
Cup proved that simply isn't true. The sooner we get more matchplay onto our
screens, the better.
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FedEx Cup was first introduced, everybody ended up complaining that there was
no drama as performances during the season put Tiger Woods so far ahead that he
was all-but-guaranteed to win the trophy - and the $10m bonus.
an up-and-coming young player won the event following an astonishing play-off
during which he saved par from a water hazard, and people complain that the
event is a joke because a nobody can claim the prize simply with one good week
the guys at the US PGA Tour are sitting back and allowing themselves wry grins
and telling each other, "we just can't win" as they sip their gins
they can't. That's because the idea of the FedEx Cup play-offs was ridiculous
from the start, and remains so no matter .
other sport, the best players are expected to win all the time. Big football
teams invariably beat lesser sides, top tennis players routinely make it to the
semi-finals or finals of tournaments, top racing drivers stand on the top of the podium
week after week.
golf, though. With the odd exception - purple patches of the likes that only Tiger
Woods and Martin Kaymer have enjoyed in recent memory - top golfers lose more often than they win, probably because the margins in the sport are so slender that nobody can beat the field consistently.
You can see
what the Tour are trying to do: play-offs are successful in other sports, and sound like they should be dramatic and fun to watch. That's why they have a 30-man finale in which all
30 players have a chance to win.
Yet it's absurd to simply award the season's biggest
prize to a bloke simply because he happens to win the last event of the season. The FedEx Cup is a joke as a reocgnition of fine golf when it fails to recognise sustained achievement; yet it's also a joke as a play-off series if the season's most sustained achiever enters the final event so far ahead that he cannot lose.
In the end, Bill Haas
won the FedEx Cup despite finishing 24th, 61st and 16th in the first three
'play-off' events. Hunter Mahan could have won the FedEx Cup in the play-off despite a mediocre
season in which his only podium finish was a second place back at the AT&T
Pro Am back in February, and a run of golf in the first three play-off events
which saw him finish 43rd, eighth, 42nd.
that to Luke Donald, who finished 18th, third, fourth and third in the play-off
events. Based on common sense, it's clear that Donald was the
best player in the play-offs, not to mention the player whose sustained achievement over the season was most impressive.
Donald's now huge lead at the top of the world rankings shows pretty clearly
that, despite being irredeemably win-shy and Major-averse, he is the best golfer
on the planet right now.
The FedEx Cup just does not show that. It's failing both as a golf award and as a play-off.
What it is, is a $10m lottery ticket. Bill Haas is a very decent golfer who played well to win a decent tournament against a strong (if small) field at an excellent golf course. But his FedEx Cup win was no more than a unwarranted bonus for happening to win an event in a week when it was worth an extra
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is in the golfing headlines after announcing that he's found a new caddie (Joe LaCava, pictured left with former boss Dustin Johnson).
that's not the Tiger news that most surprised us this week. That news is that
Woods is poised to drop out of the top 50 on the world rankings.
players, being in the top 50 is a magic spot. It guarantees a spot at all the
WGC events and all four Majors, and because of that has become a sort of holy
grail for journeymen.
dropping out of the top 50 won't impact upon his invitations to the Majors - as
a winner of all four, he will be exempt until he hangs up his clubs - but it
does mean that the great man is well and truly away from golf's top table.
Tiger's official US Tour earnings in 2011 so far are just under $630,000;
that's less than he's made in any season since he turned pro - including 1996,
when he played just seven tournaments.
prize money was far lower: an average victory netted around $250,000 instead of
the $1m+ you'll earn for winning today. Yet Woods will need to go some in the decidedly
Mickey Mouse autumn events if he is to catch his $790,594 earnings from 1996.
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NICE DISCOVERY OF THE WEEK: "We did some TV interviews
up in the grandstands there on 18 and both trophies were there. And there was
no other player, so I kind of assumed. " Bill Haas, who wasn't actually told he'd won both Tour Championship
and FedEx Cup, and didn't know that he'd done so until he saw the trophy
waiting for him.
GOOD KARMA OF THE WEEK: "Congratulations, I hope that
won it for you, I just hope maybe I can win this tournament." Bill Haas, again, revealing what he told
Luke Donald on the final green at East Lake. Donald finished tied for third; if
he'd been outright third, he would have won the FedEx Cup and the $10m bonus. No doubt the golfing gods heard Haas's good wishes when they kept his ball playable in the water during the play-off.
OPTIMIST OF THE WEEK PART ONE: "I'm anxious for us to be working together."
Tiger Woods really seems to believe
new caddie Joe LaCava will be the answer to all his problems.
OF THE WEEK PART TWO: "I'm excited to
be working with Tiger. Tiger and I have been friends for a very long time, and
I know what he can do." Tiger's new caddie Joe LaCava, who has quit working for world number five Dustin
Johnson (2011 earnings: $4,309,961) to work for world number 50 Woods (2011