Frenetic finish to FedExCup
Philadelphia, PA – With the final group on the 72nd hole of regulation of the final PGA Tour Playoff event, the winner of the FedExCup stood in the balance for the second straight year.
And isn't that exactly how the PGA Tour drew it up?
In 2010, Jim Furyk spun his hat around backwards as rain fell, then kicked in a par putt to win both the Tour Championship and FedExCup.
On Sunday, there was even more drama. Third-round co-leaders Hunter Mahan and Aaron Baddeley stood on the final tee of the final hole of regulation with not only their fates in the balance, but those of two others as well.
World No. 1 Luke Donald had an outside shot to claim the FedExCup if several things fell his way. The way things shook out, Donald took third in the playoff chase, but as a consolation, he did take over the top spot on the PGA Tour's money list.
Webb Simpson led the Playoff race heading into the Tour Championship. After a poor finish Sunday, his fate was in Baddeley's hands. If the Australian won the tournament, Simpson would have won the FedExCup.
It was not to be for Baddeley or Simpson.
After Mahan made par on the 72nd hole, the tournament and Playoff winner was down to Mahan and Bill Haas.
Haas coughed up a two-stroke lead with bogeys on 16 and 18, but no one could pass him. When Mahan parred the last hole, the duo was headed to a playoff.
Both got up and down for par on No. 18, the first extra hole.
Haas turned up the drama at the 17th, the second playoff hole. His second shot stopped on the water's edge, left of the green. He played a remarkable shot, that actually spun, to within two feet of the cup.
Mahan had a birdie chance, but missed and after both made their short par putts, they went back to the 18th.
Mahan missed the green right, then missed his par putt badly to the right. Haas two-putted for par from the fringe for the victory, but he was so focused, he didn't realize how big that final putt was.
As he walked onto the podium for the trophy presentation, Haas wasn't entirely sure that he'd won the FedExCup.
"I went up and 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 and I looked at my wife and she was there, and she nodded her head. So that was when I realized," Haas said of when he realized that he won FedExCup along with the tournament. "I saw (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem, I said, 'I didn't know I had won this,' and he was like, 'Congratulations, you won both.'"
The first few years of the FedExCup may have been imperfect, but the tweaking that has occurred over the years has made it work.
The way the system has been altered, going into the Tour Championship, every player has a shot at the $10 million prize that comes with winning the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Furyk was 11th on the points list heading into the Tour Championship last year, while Haas was 25th at the start of this past weekend.
The drama built steadily throughout the year, and it came down to a playoff to determine the winner.
And Donald summed it up perfectly in a television interview when he said, "I guess every shot really does count."
You aren't kidding, Luke.
KERR'S INJURY HAS U.S. SINGING THE BLUES AT SOLHEIM CUP
The Solheim Cup was tied at 8-8 after two days of action. Before the first singles match even made the turn, Europe was handed a one-point lead.
That lead came from Cristie Kerr's inability to play her anchor match. After going 2-1-1 in the team sessions, Kerr was unable to go on Sunday due to a wrist injury.
"That was my last thing I did right before I submitted my pairings was to check on Cristie, because she was playing in some of the last matches, to make sure she was ready to go. She felt good. She played well," explained U.S. captain Rosie Jones. "Unfortunately, overnight the inflammation was too much and we lost the opportunity for her to play today."
With the matches as close as they were, losing arguably your best player before she even teed off had to be a blow to the U.S. team.
Kerr, the highest-ranked American at world No. 3, was slated to play the anchor match against Karen Stupples.
Stupples is a fine player, who won twice on the LPGA Tour in 2004, including the Women's British Open. However, she had lost her two team matches earlier in the weekend, which dropped her career record in the Solheim Cup to 0-4.
Kerr would have been the clear favorite. Instead, Angela Stanford was the anchorwoman for the U.S. She failed to hold off Azahara Munoz, but Europe had already won the Cup at that point.
Controversial captain's pick, Ryann O'Toole, was outstanding most of the weekend. But, she failed to hold a 2-up with two to play lead, and Suzann Pettersen won two of the last three holes to beat Michelle Wie.
The late holes in those late matches seemed to all go the way of the Europeans. That hadn't been the case earlier in the competition.
With the loss of Kerr, the Americans put up a valiant fight. Would Kerr playing have made a difference? Who knows? No doubt she would have fought to the end if she could have played.
- Great hire for Tiger Woods as he grabbed Joe LaCava as his new caddie. Tiger's light schedule resembles that of Fred Couples, who LaCava caddied for many years. However, word leaked about the hire as the Tour Championship playoff was just finishing. I'm sure it wasn't planned that way, but the timing was poor to say the least.
- Couples will have a tough choice for his other captain's pick to go with his selection of Woods. I'm guessing the final two candidates are Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas. After his steely performance at the Tour Championship, I'd lean towards Haas being the choice. Maybe his father, Jay, can twist Couples' arm. After all, Jay is Couples' assistant captain.