FedEx Cup Playoffs: Birdies and Bogeys

SUBSCRIBE

FedEx Cup Playoffs: Birdies and Bogeys

September 13, 2014

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: PGA Tour

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Billy Horschel

We could talk about him posting 12 straight rounds in the 60s. Or we could talk about his clutch 31-foot par putt to preserve his lead on the 16th hole Sunday at East Lake. Or we could just talk about his pants. The point is, September was the month the 27-year-old Billy Horschel became a star. And it wasn't just because of his golf or what he wore, but also his refreshing personality -- fiery, a tad cocky, but also brutally honest. The only downside for Horschel is he's got all this momentum and nowhere to take it. But whenever he resurfaces, it will be intriguing to see how good he can be.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Horschel's timing

Mind you, his timing could have been worse. Had Billy Horschel gone on this sort of run in, say, February, he likely wouldn't be enjoying those few extra zeroes in his paycheck as the FedEx Cup champion. But the other way to look at it is that on Sept. 2, the morning Tom Watson announced his captain's picks, Horschel was just a promising player who had recently chunked the most important shot of his season into a hazard. Two weeks later, he is playing better than anyone in the world and yet will still watch the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles from afar. No one should feel too bad for Horschel, a suddenly very wealthy man who will soon be a father for the first time. It's just too bad he has to shut it down right when he's heating up.

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Jim Furyk

Yes, he came up short. Again. But it's tough to expect anything more from Furyk at this point in his career. Nobody is better at playing well and not winning and he proved that again in the Playoffs, blowing a 54-hole lead at the Barclays, finishing T-4 at the BMW, and finishing T-2 at the Tour Championship. Furyk's last PGA Tour title remains the 2010 Tour Championship, but finishing fourth in the FedEx Cup at 44 and with no wins is impressive in its own right.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Tom Watson

It's hard to begrudge Watson for passing on Billy Horschel considering that, prior to September, the FedEx Cup champion was a non-factor. But given the benefit of hindsight, Watson has clearly let the two hottest American players slip through his fingers.  In Horschel and Chris Kirk, who was snubbed by Watson the morning after his win in the Deutsche Bank and went on to finish second in the FedEx Cup, the U.S. captain will now have two ominous shadows lurking over his team in Scotland. Should the Americans come up short once again in Gleneagles, expect this to be cited as a reason.

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Rory McIlroy

After winning three straight tournaments, including two major championships, one could have easily expected Rory McIlroy to sleepwalk through the last four weeks of the season -- or perhaps not play some events at all. Instead, aside from a slow start at Ridgewood, McIlroy was a factor throughout the playoffs, even giving himself a chance to win his first FedEx Cup heading into Sunday at East Lake. The fact that he didn't might go down as a missed opportunity -- more on that in a moment -- but he at least made it interesting.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Rory McIlroy

Of course, the other way to look at is when you're the best player in the world fresh off your third and fourth majors, we're not expecting you to be outplayed by two seemingly inferior opponents on the weekend. But that's what happened at the Deutsche Bank, when McIlroy was torched by Chris Kirk on Sunday; and at the Tour Championship, when a clearly fried McIlroy was outlasted by Billy Horschel. Everyone hits their limit, and at East Lake, McIlroy clearly hit his. But as was the case in 2012 when he lost out to Brandt Snedeker, the world No. 1 failed to put a tidy bow on the end of his season.

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Chris Kirk

After a hot start to the 2013-14 season  -- Chris Kirk won and finished second in his first five events -- he had been fairly middling before his third PGA Tour victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship. It forced Tom Watson to seriously consider him for a Ryder Cup pick and put him in contention to win the FedEx Cup throughout the Tour Championship, where he finished T-4.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Condensed schedule

As much as we enjoy seeing the best players in the world competing in consecutive weeks, it soon became apparent we were not seeing those players at, well, their best. Between Phil Mickelson's BMW withdrawal and sputtering finishes by Rory McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy, there was enough evidence pointing to the schedule taking its toll on players. If physical exhaustion was one side effect, so was the inevitable loss of focus for players who were playing four straight weeks, were coming off a two majors in four week stretch, and who, in many cases, still had the Ryder Cup to come. You shouldn't feel too bad for millionaire golfers playing for obscene amounts of money week after week. But you shouldn't have expected great golf from them, either.

Photo By: PGA Tour

Birdie: Keegan Bradley

Fresh off being named to his second Ryder Cup team, Bradley made the difficult but ultimately admirable decision to withdraw from the BMW Championship when he began to question a ruling he received in the tournament's first round. Golfers have long been credited for calling penalties on themselves, and in Bradley's case, he had actually already been absolved of any wrongdoing. But his conscience told him otherwise, and for that reason, he opted to show himself to the door -- and miss out on a potential big payday at the Tour Championship.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Phil Mickelson

Given the way his season has gone, it's perhaps fitting that Phil Mickelson decided to make another one of his statements during the FedEx Cup. Apparently perturbed by the idea of having to play four weeks straight, Mickelson pulled out of the BMW Championship citing a need to prepare for the Ryder Cup. It was an interesting turn of events, but as one of the game's most established stars, Lefty really should have handled his gripe in a more mature way.

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Morgan Hoffmann/Geoff Ogilvy

Hoffmann and Ogily finished at the very bottom of the leader board at the Tour Championship, but the fact they were even at East Lake was impressive. Ogilvy needed a late win just to get into the Playoffs and some good fortune to make it out of the first event before a T-2 at the Deutsche Bank locked up his first trip to the Tour Championship in four years. Hoffmann's road to Atlanta was even crazier. He became the first player in FedEx Cup Playoff history to play his way inside the cut line at each of the first three events. That included a career-best third-place finish at the BMW Championship, where he shot 62-63 over the weekend.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Jimmy Walker

After three early-season wins, the FedEx Cup leader for nearly the entire year was never a real threat in the Playoffs. Walker entered the postseason in the No. 2 position behind Rory McIlroy, but missed the cut at the Barclays before going T-9, T-20, T-17 in the final three events. Walker still finished seventh in the overall FedEx Cup standings to cap what was a career year by any measure,  but it has to be a bit disappointing for someone who was in such great shape after the regular season.

Photo By: Getty Images

Bogey: Webb Simpson

With the late emergence of Billy Horschel, Tom Watson would have been desperate for Webb Simpson to vindicate his decision to pick him for the Ryder Cup by showing any semblance of form. It didn't happen. After a decent T-9 finish at the Deutsche Bank -- which helped Simpson get the pick -- Webb finished T-53 and then T-23 in a 29-man field in his final two events. A lot of work remains for Simpson to prove Watson got the pick right, and if the FedEx Cup is any indication, it looks like Watson will be regretting this one for a while.

Photo By: Getty Images

Shop This Look