Now that we have cut the field to 30 for the FedEx Cup, it is time to reflect a bit on all the action that has happened over the last three weeks.
From Long Island’s Bethpage Black to Pete Dye’s first creation at Crooked Stick, we have seen maybe the best three consecutive week period in the game’s history.
A seemingly rejuvenated Tiger Woods having fun with Rory Mcilroy and the reemergence of a 49-year old Vijay Singh would be a good place to start. Although Singh did not qualify for the finals, he did show us just why he was one of the most feared players of the game of the last 15 years.
With ideal scoring conditions for three weeks, the best and the brightest on the PGA Tour got their chance to show us why they are so good. You can understand why the United States Golf Association toughens up their courses so much as these guys ripped these three courses apart and they were not easy.
As the tour takes a week breather, here are five things to keep in mind for the Tour Championship and the off-season ahead.
Pete Dye greets Rory after the round
He says it all clicked together at the WGC-Bridgestone in Akron on Saturday. Whatever it was that clicked has led to an impressive display of golf that we have not seen since Tiger’s heyday.
After winning the PGA Championship by eight shots, McIlroy has won the last two weeks by just taking charge during the last round. It is difficult to compare golfers of different generation, but you would be hard pressed to ever find someone of his age that comfortable with his game and himself.
Now with four wins this year, Rory has reached the point where he does not even have to be playing all that well to win.
He is long, but not as long off the tee compared to the field like Tiger and Jack were at his age. He is deadly accurate and he can putt. He may not be the master of anything yet, but he is willing his way around courses and very rarely ever puts himself into a position to make bogey.
He is the best player in the world right now and it is not even close.
Turn the place into a par-70 and let he grass grow a little bit more and you have a gem here in New England.
With Bethpage Black and Crooked Stick already having a major on their resume, TPC Boston seemed to favor those who could play a precision game as well as those who can drive the ball.
With the great field that played there, very few complaints actually leaked out about the course. The rough was actually penal and the place did not seemed to be tricked up to be a good test of golf—Kiawah Island comes to mind as an example of a trumped up course.
There are not many courses in New England that would be a good fit for a major. Even Brookline outside of Boston, home of a couple U.S. Open’s and the 1999 Ryder Cup, is a composite course taken from two different courses.
You probably could not make the course penal enough for an Open, but a PGA would be a nice fit and Boston is a good golf area.
PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem
Here we have on a Sunday the best leader board of the year and the ratings will be horrible.
It is football season.
If the PGA Tour wants those of you to actually pay attention, then it cannot be having the most important rounds of the year go up against the National Football League.
We had the top three players in the world within three shots of each other to start the day and there was absolutely no buzz outside of the golf world about it.
The players are taking this seriously now. Only Jason Dufner had the only serious absence and that was for the first week. There is a good chance the winner in Atlanta in two weeks walks away with $11.44 million and that is way too much money not to take seriously.
Yet, the PGA Tour has to give the casual fans a reason to watch. With fan-favorite Phil Mickelson dueling old foe Vijay Singh and the new kid in McIlroy, it made for very compelling television, but it was played the same time your fantasy football team was playing.
If they are going to continue to play after the NFL starts then they have to go to a Wednesday-Saturday schedule or at least reschedule that week break to happen during the opening week of the season.
It has taken six years for these playoffs to really grab a hold of the players, but they need eyeballs.
In changing the way he gripped the putter, Phil Mickelson got hot again and actually had a chance to win this week.
Yes, he still can be very frustrating to watch as he can make some maddeningly strange decisions on the course such as his taking a driver off the 15th fairway Sunday to try and reach that green in two.
The big difference for Phil, however, was the fact he looked like he was having fun these last couple of weeks.
That snarl we have seen at times this summer has been replaced with a big ear-to-ear grin. He looked a lot more relaxed the last couple of weeks and started climbing up leader boards as a result.
Mickelson has always shown he can create pretty much any shot he wants to from any sort of lie, but this year had become an exercise of just trying to save par and not scoring.
Whatever he did the last couple weeks has worked and he has put himself in a position to win the FedEx Cup with a win in Atlanta.
There is not really one thing you can point to and say that Tiger Woods is doing wrong.
First, he really has enjoyed playing with Rory McIlroy. It is clear that they have fed off each other and their relationship seems genuine. Rory seems to relax Tiger a bit and Rory has clearly learned from watching Tiger this fall.
The fact is that Tiger is not the same Tiger that roared through the early part of the 2000s. No player can do what he did. Tiger’s peak was so incredible that not even he can follow it up.
He is not as long off the tee and does not have that ability to dictate exactly where to put the ball.
What we have seen is better accuracy, better distance control and better putting. He shot four rounds in the 60s this week and fell three shots short.
Tiger did not fail, he has been replaced as the alpha dog. He will still be a big factor and win multiple times a year, but his second act will not match his first.
That is not a knock on Tiger’s game today, but a statement on just how good he was. Hopefully he will be okay with it and enjoy his time on Tour now.