Tag: FedEx Cup

The Tour Championship

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta Georgia
East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta GA

BMW Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded the BMW Championship, (second leg of the shortened 2020 FedEx Cup playoffs). The scoring was very high as Olympia Fields showed its teeth and only five players were able to finish under par. John Rahm and Dustin Johnson both ended the week at 4 under, and Rahm took the title with a birdie on the first playoff hole. With the victory, Rahm moved all the way up to second place in the Cup standings, just behind Johnson who maintained his over-all lead going to the Tour Championship. The course was set up much like what you would expect at a U.S. Open venue, and unlike so many regular tour events, par was a very good score. Not that I enjoyed seeing so many great players struggle to make par (OK, I kind of did), it certainly made for a ton of excitement. As of now, the standings have Johnson in the lead, followed by Rahm, Thomas, Simpson, Morikawa, and Daniel Berger.

Tour Championship

This week is the start of the Tour Championship, played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA. As you would expect, the field is stacked with veteran powerhouse players like Johnson, Thomas, McIlroy, Rahm, DeChambeau, Finau and Matsuyama. But there is also a host of young phenoms including Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Victor Hovland, Cameron Champ and Joaquin Nieman. The Tour Championship went through a format change in 2019, and now the winner of the Tournament is also the definitive winner of the FedEx Cup. From 2007 through 2018 the format allowed for two champions (a Tour Championship champion and a FedEx Cup Champion), and in four of those years the winner of the two was not the same player. Now, thankfully, it is assured that only one player will be deemed the over-all champ. The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup playoff standings will all tee it up to identify who that player will be. Under the new format, the top 25 players in the standings start the Tour Championship under par, laddering down from the leader (Dustin Johnson) who starts at -10, to number 25 (Marc Leishman) who starts at -1 (26-30 start at even par). Everybody has a chance to win, but the players who performed the best throughout the year have a pretty big edge—as they should. The Tour Championship was started back in 1987, played in November, and was hosted on different venues on a rotating basis. The first was Oak Hills Country Club, followed by Pebble Beach (88), Harbour Town Golf Links (89), Pinehurst No 2. (91-92), The Olympic Club (93-94), Southern Hills (95-96), Champions Golf Club, (90, 97, 99, 01, 03), and East Lake Golf Club (98, 00, 02, 04 to the present). When the FedEx Cup playoffs began in 2007, the Tour Championship moved to September and became the final leg of a four-tournament season finale. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the 2020 playoffs had to be shortened from four events to three.

The Course

East Lake Golf Club was founded in 1908, originally designed by Tom Bendelow, and remodeled by Donald Ross in 1913. The course was later updated by George Cobb and most recently by Reese Jones in 1994. In addition to the Tour Championship, the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones has hosted many prestigious championships over the years, including the 1950 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1963 Ryder Cup and the 2001 U.S. Amateur. With a USGA course rating of 76.2 and slope rating of 144, East Lake is a fitting test to crown the FedEx Cup champion each year.

Get the in-depth course details at GolfDay.

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PGA Tour Update and the BMW

Olympia Fields Country Club, Illinois

Northern Trust Wrap-Up

Dustin Johnson sailed to an easy victory last week at the Northern Trust (his 22nd win on the PGA Tour). DJ was 30 under par for the week, and won with an astounding margin of 11 shots over runner-up, Harris English. The win propelled him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, 92 points ahead of Justin Thomas and also placed him back atop the Word Golf Rankings, moving past John Rahm. Dustin was showing signs that his game was rounding into form, and after his disappointing finish at the PGA Championship, it was great to see it all come together (particularly in light of the rather prickly remarks that Brooks Koepka aimed at him a few weeks back.) As the FedEx Cup stands now, Johnson, Thomas, and Simpson remain the top three, but Daniel Berger has picked up some ground after a solid 3rd place finish this week.

BMW Championship

This Thursday marks the start of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois—the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. There will be a few conspicuously missing stars this week as the playoff field is reduced to the top 70 in the standings. In addition to Phil, big names who failed to qualify include Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. With the depth of talent currently on tour, however, there will still be plenty of fireworks with Tiger, DJ, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau teeing it up against young guns Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Victor Hovland. Both Tiger and Rory each commented on the difficulty of playing without the energy of a huge gallery, but perhaps the presence of these young phenoms will give them a little extra juice—we’ll see.

The Course

The BMW Championship is played at multiple venues on a rotating basis, much like the Northern Trust. The north course at Olympia Fields Country Club, about a half hour south of Chicago, will host this year’s event for the first time in its history. Olympia Fields was founded in 1915 and boasts two magnificent eighteen- hole layouts (The North and The South). Each course was originally designed by a legendary architect (Willie Park, Jr designed the North and Tom Bendelow designed the South). Having hosted four major championships, (two PGA’s and two U.S. Open’s), as well as the 2015 U.S. Amateur, the 1997 U.S. Senior Open and the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship, Olympia Fields has a rich history and will provide a wonderful test for the players at this week’s championship. Other venues for the BMW Championship include Cog Hill Golf & Country Club (07, 09, 10, 11), Bellerive Country Club (08), Crooked Stick Golf Club (12, 16, 17), Conway Farms Golf Club (13, 15), Cherry Hills Country Club (14), Aronimink Golf Club (18), and Medinah Country Club (19).

Get the course details at GolfDay.

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FedEx Cup and The Northern Trust

TPC Boston, MA

It seems like just yesterday the PGA Tour returned to our television sets, and yet the first week of the FedEx Cup playoffs is suddenly here. The playoffs are the most exciting weeks on the PGA Tour, including three tournaments with the field being reduced after each event until the FedEx Cup champion is crowned. Right now, Justin Thomas is leading with 2,458 points, although top players like Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm are hot on his heels. I think it’s safe to say that the next few weeks will be exciting as we cap off the end of the 2019-20 season.

Wyndham Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded The Wyndham Championship, and it was a true nail biter. Former club-pro Jim Herman fired a final round 63 to hold off Billy Horschell by one shot. With all of the young guns on tour these days, it was nice to see a veteran underdog topple one of the big names in golf. The win was Herman’s third victory on the PGA Tour, and it landed him a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, rocketing from 192 to 54th in the standings. Jim’s success on the tour is a great story. Originally an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster New Jersey, Trump convinced Herman to give it a shot on the tour—and it has paid off for Jim in a big way. Hopefully he can have another strong showing at the Northern Trust this week, and he should be brimming with confidence after finishing the Windham with rounds of 61 and 63.

The Northern Trust

The Field

As expected, the field for the first event of the FedEx playoffs is packed with top-rated players including Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, and the new PGA Champion Collin Morikawa. Conspicuously absent from the field is Brooks Koepka, who withdraw due to a knee injury that has bothered him throughout the season. Since Koepka was sitting at 97 in the standings, the withdrawal means that his season is over—although he has every intention of teeing it up for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot that was re-scheduled to September (now technically part of the 2021 season after the postponement). Tiger is in the field this week, and it will be interesting to see how he rebounds after his poor showing at the PGA Championship. The Northern Trust is going to be make or break for many in the field, so we can expect some pretty aggressive play.

The Event

The Northern Trust is played at various venues on a rotating basis (Ridgewood Country Club-NJ, Liberty National-NJ, Bethpage State Park-NY) and TPC Boston was added to host the 2020 championship. TPC Boston was originally designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay in 2002, and subsequently updated and enhanced by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon. A par 71 eighteen-hole layout, the course is a stiff test of golf with a USGA course rating of 77.2 and a slope of 154.

History

The championship was originally held at Westchester Country Club in New York, and known for many years as the Westchester Classic. It was also traditionally played in June, either the week before or after the U.S. Open. In 2007 the tournament was rescheduled for August and incorporated as the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Northern Trust became the title sponsor in 2017.

Get detailed course information from GolfDay.

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Tiger, Jack and The Memorial

The Memorial Tournament starts this week at the Muirfiekd Village Golf Club
Muirfield Village Golf Club
July 16, 2020

Tiger and Jack

The Memorial Tournament starts this week, and as we mentioned in our last blog, this will be Tiger’s first start since the tour suspended play for COVID-19. This week will also provide an opportunity for Tiger to break Sam Snead’s record for PGA Tour wins (they are tied at 82). Other than perhaps Augusta National, it’s hard to think of a better place for Tiger to break Snead’s record than Muirfield Village. Earlier in the week Tiger dispelled rumors that his extended absence may have been due to his back, stating “I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe.” Something tells me he will have his A-game on display this week, so this star-studded field will have to do some playing if they want to delay the inevitable.

Between the two them, Tiger and Jack occupy a pretty hefty chunk of the record book while dominating their respective era. A few of Tiger’s more illustrious records include winning four majors in a row (tying Bobby Jones), most consecutive cuts made (142), and most victories in a single PGA event (8 times at Bay Hill). He also won the Vardon Trophy for lowest season scoring average a record 8 times, with the best ever recorded of 68.17 in 2000, when he won 9 times. At 24, Tiger was the youngest player in history to complete the career grand slam, and also holds the record for most World Golf Championship victories (18). Jack, of course, holds the most prestigious record of all with 18 major victories, but Tiger’s resurgence has suddenly brought it once again within his reach (with the addition of the 2019 Masters, Tiger now has 15 major championships). Jack’s over-all record at the majors is truly eye-popping; however, when you consider that in addition to the 18 wins he also recorded 19 runner-up finishes and was among the top 3 an astounding 48 times. Seeing Jack and Tiger together at the Memorial is an opportunity to witness golf history as it unfolds—and you definitely do not want to miss a minute of it.

WorkDay Charity wrap-up

Last week’s WorkDay Charity Open proved to be yet another exciting finish. Young phenom Collin Morikawa was able to take down Justin Thomas in a playoff thriller and move all the way up to Number 6 in the FedEx cup point standings. Although it was a tough loss, the runner-up finish was more than enough to propel Thomas past Webb Simpson and assume the lead in FedEx points, and also move him ahead of Dustin Johnson to Number 3 in the World Golf Rankings. Young Viktor Hovland also came close, but his hopes were dashed when his ball found water on the 14th hole. The young Norwegian has led the tour in strokes gained tee to green in each of the last three tournaments, and no one has ever done that before, so it’s a good bet he will notch his second tour victory sooner rather than later.

The Memorial

Jack has Muirfield Village set up to play a lot tougher for the Memorial than it was at the WorkDay last week (not that it was easy by any means). First of all, the greens will be far quicker, running between 13 and 13.5 on the stimpmeter (they were at 11 for the WorkDay). In addition, the tees will be pushed back a bit (particularly at the drivable par 4 14th hole), and the mowers will spend less time keeping the thick rough in check. Fast and firm greens with heavy rough are a recipe for high scores, and even such a deep and talented field will have a difficult time going low—exactly the way Jack wants it to be. When you put Tiger together with Jack and Muirfield Village, what could be better.

Explore all your favorite golf courses with GolfDay.

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FedEx Cup Playoff Update

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, GA
July 12, 2020

We are well into July, and although the long lay-off makes it feel like the PGA season only just began, the FedEx Cup playoffs are right around the corner. A number of youngsters have burst onto the scene in a big way, and this year looks to be the most exciting run to the tour championship and $15 million dollar FedEx Cup purse ever.

Currently Webb Simpson is the leader, with 1,660 points on the strength of 6 top ten’s, including two wins in 2019-2020 wrap-around season. After reaching the pinnacle of professional golf with a win at the 2012 US Open, the putter he used to get him there was removed from his bag when the Tour announced in 2013 that “Anchored Putters” would no longer be allowed beginning with the 2016 season. Simpson had to re-build his putting stroke, and even more importantly, his confidence, but it appears that all of his hard work has him ready to add another major to his resume—and perhaps the FedEx Cup as well. Justin Thomas is hot on his heels with 1,543 points. Thomas has recorded 5 top-10’s with two wins thus far, and charged to the third-round lead at the Workday Open at Muirfield Village with consecutive 66’s (he shot 68 in the opening round). With Simpson taking this week off, Thomas can move into the FedEx Cup point lead by finishing 4th or better. At number 3 is Sungjae Im, a 22 year old from the Republic of Korea, who won the Honda and followed that up with a top-5 at Bay Hill just before the suspension of play. Im recorded a top-10 at the Charles Schwab Challenge when play resumed at Colonial in June. In 4th place is Bryson DeChambou (“The Mad Scientist”), who bombed the field with 350 plus yard drives at Detroit Golf Club to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. Rory McIlroy is lurking at number 5, with a win and 6 top-10 finishes. While Rory has gotten off to a bit of a slow start since play resumed, expect him to make a charge beginning at the Memorial next week with Tiger in the field. Patrick Reed, dubbed “Captain America” for his gritty play at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, sits just behind McIlroy at number 6. Reed has a win (WGC-Mexico) and 4 top-10’s thus far in the 2019-2020 campaign.

Young Guns

Coming into this week, twenty-one-year-old Californian Colin Morikawa stood at 21st in the FedEx standings, and precision iron play reminiscent of Johnny Miller have him only 3 shots behind Thomas after the 3rd round at the Workday Open–a big Sunday would vault him into the top 10. Another youngster, 22-year-old Victor Hovland from Norway who played college golf at OSU, stands at 35th on the FedEx Cup standings. Hovland started the final round at the Workday only 2 shots behind Thomas, and he also would shoot up to the top ten with a win.

Notables

Tiger will be making his first start in 3 months at next week’s Memorial Tournament, and he has won Jack’s event 5 times. All eyes will be glued to the screen to see what he has in store after such a long lay-off (Tiger will also be looking to record his 83rd Tour win and break Sam Snead’s record). There have been some rumors that his back troubles may have returned, but he looked solid at the end of May in the match with Phil, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brooks Koepka is another force to be reckoned with down the stretch run. Looking to win an unprecedented three consecutive PGA Championships, Koepka has displayed Tiger-like ability and resolve at the biggest events under maximum pressure. Jordan Spieth has started to show signs of returning to major championship form, but has been unable to put four solid rounds together so far—still, don’t be surprised if he suddenly bursts onto the scene when the FedEx playoffs get going. And coming off his win at the Travelers, Dustin Johnson appears ready to make a move and remind us of why he is number 3 in the world rankings. Keep an eye on Patrick Cantley as well, who has quietly edged closer to the top 30 with his game peaking at exactly the right time. When you add John Rahm (number 2 in the world), Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Jason Day to the mix, the next month and half of pure excitement will more than make up for those dreary days when there was no golf to watch.

Get more detailed course information on the East Lake Golf Club courtesy of GolfDay.

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