Pain In The Pocket

The 9 costliest shots in FedEx Cup Playoffs history

August 6, 2019

Since its inception in 2007, the FedEx Cup Playoffs' focus has always been on money for two key reasons.

1.) It’s the biggest payout in golf. By far.

2.) It’s the easiest thing to keep track of.

The casual golf fan would have a better chance explaining all of Newton’s three laws of motion than the points system that determines the PGA Tour’s four—now three—playoff events. But ask how much money the winner of the postseason receives, and most fans would know the answer is $10 MILLION. Well, at least, it was the answer. Starting this year, the winner will take home $15 MILLION. With that much money, there have been plenty of lucrative shots hit in these events through the years as the world’s best golfers have attempted to pad their bank accounts. Of course, there have been some (very) costly bad shots as well. Here’s a look back at nine of the most painful (in the pocket) misfires in FedEx Cup history.

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1.) Sergio Garcia’s Kiss of Death, 2008 Barclays

Chris Condon

This was actually a great shot/putt by Sergio, but did the golf gods turn on him because of a taunt? After draining a 27-foot birdie to seemingly beat Vijay Singh in a playoff at Ridgewood Country Club, Garcia blew a kiss (above) to that year's European Ryder Cup captain, Nick Faldo, who was up in the CBS tower. But it was a premature celebration by the immature Spaniard as Singh responded by making a 26-footer to match Garcia and won on the next hole.

Total damage: At least $644,000. That was the difference between winning and T-2 (Kevin Sutherland was also in the playoff), but had Garcia won, he could have claimed the FedEx Cup as well. Instead, Singh also won the next playoff event and then basically showed up to the final two to collect his $10 million. Garcia made a late bogey in the Tour Championship, lost in a playoff to Camilo Villegas, and won “only” a $2 million bonus for third (Villegas collected $3 million for finishing second).

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2.) Brandt Snedeker’s four-putt, 2009 BMW Championship

Snedeker was in great shape to stay in the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list and make it to the Tour Championship at East Lake when he arrived to the green on the 72nd hole at the 2009 BMW Championship. All one of the best putters in the world needed was a two-putt from 14 feet (he knew the situation as well). Instead, he did this:

A decade later, that’s still tough to watch.

Total damage: At least $350,000. The two-putt cost him $52,500. Not making it into the Tour Championship cost another $300,000. Don’t feel too bad for Sneds, though. He won the whole thing in 2012.

3.) Steve Stricker’s mud ball, 2009 Tour Championship

Many golf fans remember Phil Mickelson topping Tiger Woods at the 2009 Tour Championship, but complaining about still losing the FedEx Cup to his longtime rival. However, it was Steve Stricker who also had a glorious chance to steal the bigger prize pot without winning at East Lake. Stricker was actually projected to finish first, but a terrible approach (the AP’s Doug Ferguson reported mud on the ball affected the shot) on No. 16 during the final round led to a bogey and he never recovered.

Total damage: At least $8 million, or the difference between finishing third ($2 million) and first ($10 million). But Stricker is such a nice guy he's probably happier his buddy won.

4.) Hunter Mahan’s playoff bogey, 2011 Tour Championship

To be fair, Mahan was probably a bit shaken up by what Bill Haas had done on the second sudden-death playoff hole:

Poor Hunter. The dude was counting his money before Bill pulled off that miracle at East Lake. Instead, Mahan walked away with one of the most stunning defeats—and with a lot less money.

Total damage: About $9.6 million, or the difference between finishing seventh ($700,000) and first ($10 million), plus $564,000 for winning the tournament.

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5.) Tiger Woods’ back goes out, 2013 Barclays

With a chance to win on the back nine at Liberty National, Woods yanked his approach on the par-5 13th hole—and dropped to his knees in pain:

Woods rallied with a couple late birdies but finished one shot behind Adam Scott.

Total damage: Incalculable. Little did golf fans know, but this would be the first sign of the back problems that would plague Tiger for the rest of his career. After his PGA Tour Player of the Year campaign in 2013, Woods barely played the next four years. Despite all the missed time, Tiger is still the only two-time FedEx Cup champ.

6.) Billy Horschel’s chunk, 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship

Trailing Chris Kirk by one on the 72nd hole, Horschel hit a perfect drive that left him with only about 200 yards for his second shot on the closing par 5 at TPC Boston. And then ... he did this:

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Chunk City. The resulting bogey dropped him into a three-way tie for second place.

Total damage: Up to $840,000. Like Snedeker, though, it’s hard to feel too bad for Horschel. He recovered to win the next two events, including the Tour Championship, to become the lowest-ranked player entering the postseason (69th) to claim the FedEx Cup.

7.) Jason Day’s disastrous drive, 2016 BMW Championship

The Aussie entered the playoffs in first, and was No. 2 after two playoff events. But during the final round of the BMW Championship, Day injured his back (a recurring theme of his career) with his tee shot on the ninth hole. With an upcoming two-week break before the Tour Championship, Day decided to WD rather than risk further injury. He was still in control entering the Tour Championship at No. 4, but in the second round, wound up withdrawing again due to his back.

Total damage: Up to $12 million for a potential Tour Championship win that would have won him the $10 million bonus as well.

8.) Kevin Chappell’s badly-timed bogey, 2016 Tour Championship

Leading by two shots at 17, Chappell made just his third bogey of the week. He still had a chance to win on No. 18, but he parred the closing par 5 and was eliminated minutes later when he parred the same hole in regulation.

Total damage: Up to $2 million. Chappell couldn’t win the FedEx Cup, but a win would have earned him a $1.53 million first-place check, plus bumped him up higher in the final FedEx Cup standings. Oh, he also might have been Davis Love III’s last-minute Ryder Cup captain’s choice instead of Ryan Moore, who also lost to Rory McIlroy in that playoff.

9.) Dustin Johnson’s disastrous Sunday, 2016 Tour Championship

Stan Badz

This wasn’t so much one shot, but a series of shots in which DJ blew a four-stroke lead over the front nine of the final round. To make matters worse, he still looked like he would claim the FedEx Cup until a stunning late rally by Rory McIlroy that included a holed shot from 137 yards for eagle on No. 16.

Total damage: Up to $8 million lost for not winning the Tour Championship and finishing second instead of first in the final FedEx Cup standings. Incredibly, Johnson has won more tournament prize money during the playoffs, yet has never won the FedEx Cup. Talk about First World problems.

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