For the first time since the FedEx Cup started, the winner isn’t 99% decided before the Playoffs start. This time around, we don’t already know who will end up with the $10 million.
Tiger Woods will have to play his you know what off to win it for one thing. He’s now in 112th position. The 111 guys ahead of him aren’t interested in cutting him any slack or making bogeys for him, either. They have just as good a shot at the brass ring as he does and they know it. At long last, we have a true contest from now through the Tour Championship. Ah, battle royale. Full contact golf.
This year we won’t have the Playoffs interrupted by Ryder Cup, which everybody loves. But Ryder Cup makes you lose track of where everything is in the Fed Ex series and whether or not it matters. That distraction is gone.
This year there is a one week break after the BMW, presumably to let the top 30 get in a week of practice and everybody else take to the sofa. Then it’s the Tour Championship. .
While the top players won’t have to play in all four playoff events, Tiger Woods probably will have to if he wants a shot at the top prize. That’s great for all four events and for us.
Here’s what we can expect to see from Tiger Woods:
1. Tiger Woods will get though to the first event and on to the second one. .
2. Woods may even win in week two, the Deutsch Bank, which has been the site of great duels like Tiger versus Phil Mickelson and Tiger versus Vijay Singh. He has one victory and a couple of seconds at that course.
3. Woods will also make it to the top 70, the BMW in Chicago, which is at another of his favorite venues, Cog Hill. Given two weeks, there’s no doubt Woods can climb over 41 golfers. However, the Dubsdread course has been made tougher by "Open Doctor" Rees Jones in hopes of landing a US Open. This will be its first test.
4. Here’s where the challenge comes: Without very high finishes or a victory, Woods may have a hard time making into the top 30. It’s 50/50 right now on whether he makes it to the Tour Championship in Atlanta. For the sake of the FedEx Cup and golf fans, you have to hope he does, but you want him to be somewhere between 20 and 30 so that he has to fight all the way to Sunday. It’s kind of like watching John McEnroe. You want him to succeed, but you want to see five sets and some yelling.
If Woods were to somehow claw his way from 112th to win the Fed Ex Cup, it wouldn’t be the story of the year, but it would make the biggest golf headlines since Phil Mickelson won The Masters.
This week, golfers will be paired according to their rank in the FedEx Cup standings and they will tee off in reverse order of their points finish. Woods will have an earlier tee time Thursday.
Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk will be last off the tee if they are playing in threesomes. Just ahead of them will be Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and late season winner, Jeff Overton.
Now that we have a real contest, we have to come up with a better name for these final four events than the Playoffs. OK, duh, how about The Final Four? Boy does that make sense. So what if it’s borrowed from basketball. Like Playoffs isn’t borrowed from football?