Golf Tidbits: Playoffs start with a bang

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem visited the CBS broadcast booth late in Sunday's final round, and there couldn't have been a happier man at the Liberty National.

Unfolding before Finchem's eyes was a tournament conclusion he could have only wished for.

As The Barclays wound to a close, those battling for the title included the world's No. 1 player, the tournament's defending champion and six major champions among the final 14 on the leaderboard.

For Finchem and The Barclays, could the playoffs have started any better? Let's breakdown the players.

Nick Watney, the tournament's defending champion, was looking for his sixth tour win, and second FedExCup Playoff title. But he started six back, and was too far off the pace to rally for the win, yet was in the mix nonetheless.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods was looking more like Rocco Mediate than himself. Woods battled back issues the entire week, yet the 14-time major champion still managed four rounds in the 60s. He came just inches short of chipping in for birdie at the last.

That would have forced a playoff, instead the sore Woods settled for a share of second.

Then there were the other five major champions in the mix. Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champ, birdied three of the first six to move to 10-under. After eight pars in a row, Watson bogeyed the 15th then stumbled to a double-bogey at the last to fall from contention.

Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open winner and 2010 FedExCup champ, had a pair of birdies on the front nine, but played the back nine in even-par to end two back.

Fan favorite and 5-time major champion Phil Mickelson flew into contention with seven birdies in a 10-hole span. However, he failed to save par from a bunker at the last and ended two behind.

That left it to this year's first-time major winners -- Justin Rose and Adam Scott.

Rose was four groups behind Scott, but looking up at the Masters winners late in the round. Rose had two birdies on the front nine to move to 9-under.

The U.S. Open champion grabbed a share of the lead with back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13. However, he was done in by the 18th hole. Rose 3-putted for a closing bogey, which left him one back.

That left it to Scott. The Australian was in the ninth-to-last group to tee off Sunday, but two spurts were all he needed.

Scott ran off three consecutive birdies from the fifth to move to 9-under. After six pars in a row, he birdied the 14th and 16th. Scott parred the last two to end at 11-under, and he headed off to do a variety of things while the final groups ended.

He stopped in the CBS booth and touted Rose, who failed to make a birdie at the last, which Scott thought he would have made. While Scott went on to the range and putting green, one by one, the challengers fell by the wayside.

The final group had it all play out in front of them, and couldn't respond. Matt Kuchar, who had a piece of the lead after the second and third rounds, closed with his worst round of the year by two strokes, a 7-over 78, and was out of it by the turn.

Gary Woodland, who won in Reno three weeks ago, made the turn at 1-over for the round and minus-11 for the event. He drove into the water on the par-5 13th to slip one shot out of the lead.

But there were five holes left for Woodland to make just one birdie. However, he parred all five, including missing a 10-footer for birdie at the last, to end one back

Scott claimed his first victory since he won his first major at the Masters.

Several big names, plenty of drama and a near playoff. What else could a commissioner ask for to start the Playoffs?


The playoffs are headed to the Tour this week in the form of the Tour finals.

This is the first year of this four-event series, which is another way for players to earn their PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 schedule. The series takes the 25 spots available from Q School, which starting this year, only gains players status on the Tour.

The finals breakdown as such. The top 75 from the Tour money list and those ranked from 126th to 200th on the FexExCup points list are eligible.

The top 25 from the Tour money list after the conclusion of the Cox Classic on Sunday still get their PGA Tour cards for next year, but could improve their number in the ranking system in this four-event series.

The next available 25 players from the four-event series money list will get, or keep, their PGA Tour cards for next season.

Former major champions like Padraig Harrington, David Toms, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir and Y.E. Yang ended in the 126-200 range on the FedExCup points list, but are not in the field for the first event.

That doesn't mean these guys are all no-names. Among those playing the first event are former PGA Tour winners such as Chad Campbell, Sean O'Hair, Chris DiMarco and Trevor Immelman.

Other notables in the Hotel Fitness Championship include Bud Cauley, Ricky Barnes, Ryo Ishikawa and Ben Kohles.

Should be an interesting new twist to getting or keeping your tour card. Good luck to one and all.


* Lydia Ko may still be an amateur, but she is already the owner of five professional titles. She repeated as champion at the Canadian Women's Open on Sunday. She is already ranked in the top 20 in the world rankings. Ko has no pressure to turn pro, but when she does, she may get the biggest endorsement deals ever for a woman.

* Five players that started the week outside the top 100 on the FedExCup points list moved inside the top 100 with their finish last week. Two of the five players that fell out of the top 100 made the cut, but didn't do enough to advance.