September 27, 2008

The Winners And Losers

Matt Rudy analyzes the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup results to see who came out on top and who didn't

WINNER (I guess)

Vijay Singh

He made it a non-event by showing up for four day and clock-punching a 22nd-place finish to clinch the $10 million FedEx title in monumental anticlimax. But hey, this wasn't some NASCAR-style consistent top-10s kind of points win. Singh earned the titled with great play at the beginning of the postseason, and he earned the right to take his victory lap. But you can expect to see some tweaks to the format next year to try to preserve final weekend spice in the points chase.

OTHER WINNER

Camilo Villegas

Remember way back when, the week before the Ryder Cup? Villegas won his first tour event, at the BMW. Now, he's gone back-to-back, with an emphatic eight-birdie final-round 66 at the Tour Championship. Sure, Tiger wasn't there, but Villegas and Anthony Kim (who finished third) make for an exciting young generation of tour players. It doesn't hurt that the charismatic Colombian is on his way to becoming the third or fourth most popular player on the tour -- even with male fans. Now about that Chewbacca dye job...

LOSERS

Sergio Garcia

Snakebitten. Tied for the lead with Villegas on the 18th tee, Garcia hit a gorgeous 4-iron in to 20 feet, but left the winning birdie putt short. Then, in the playoff, he flared it right and short on the same shot. The desperation flop shot he had left checked up and stayed in the fringe, and once again, he was shaking hands as the loser in a FedEx playoff. The putting stoke looks much better, but now Garcia needs to validate the potential. The $2.5 million he made works as makeshift Kleenex, I guess, but he's at the point where he's hunting the big trophies, not checks.

The PGA Tour

We got almost $15 million distributed to two players on the 18th green -- $10 million to Singh and $4.26 million for Villegas -- and almost nobody was watching. Up against the NFL, NASCAR and the most exciting final weekend in recent baseball history, and coming the week after a flag-waving American win at the Ryder Cup, even Tiger would struggle to draw for an event that's "just about money". You've heard me pitch for the Tour to try to bribe the PGA to let the PGA Championship become part of the FedEx boondoggle. That probably won't happen, but what about making the final event match play, with the leaders in the playoff points race getting advantageous early round byes? Then give the Cup and $10 million to the last man standing. Juicing up the end of the season was the right idea, but I don't think they've come across the magic formula for it yet. At the minimum, drastically simplify the point system and reconfigure the official tour awards to proclaim the FedEx Cup winner the PGA Tour Champion or somesuch. And don't ever mention the word "annuity" again.