On the Fringe: Great season for FedEx Cup
CARMEL, Ind. – Phil Mickelson calculated the odds and did the math.
He stood on the 18th tee Sunday in the BMW Championship needing an eagle on the 462-yard closing hole to force a playoff with Rory McIlroy. On this rare occasion, however, Lefty wasn’t willing to risk the ridiculous odds of trying to hole a shot from 192 yards for eagle, not when it might cost him a par.
Mickelson knew a par would mean a tie for second, which would move him up to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup. The top five in the standings only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. If he had gone for glory and wound up with a bogey, Mickelson would have been No. 8 in the standings and needing some help next week at East Lake.
His shot leaked slightly away from the water and came up 70 feet away. He made a 31/2-footer for par and tied for second.
“I accomplished one of my goals, which was to get in the top five,” Mickelson said after his round. “The other would have been, obviously, to win.
“But more than that, I just feel really good about where my game is headed, and hopefully I’ll keep improving on that for next week.”
It was an example that six years into the FedEx Cup, at least some players are starting to grasp the points system, how it works and where it can lead. For those who haven’t caught on or don’t care to figure it out, a bigger picture has emerged in the last three weeks about the FedEx Cup.
With so many great tournaments, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole – even the whole $10 million.
But then, that was always going to be the case.
What initially cost the FedEx Cup credibility were too many cheerleaders from PGA Tour headquarters who made the hopeless argument that this would determine anything more than who got really rich by playing the best golf in four strong tournaments, with emphasis on the last event.
It does not carry the prestige of winning a major.
If nothing else, it gives the PGA Tour a chance to wrap up its season with a competition that most rewards the fans as much as the players. Golf no longer limps toward the end of the year with watered-down fields at tournaments hardly anyone watches.
Now for the conclusion next week at East Lake.
It could be dramatic, similar to when Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan were in a sudden-death playoff to determine who won the FedEx Cup. There might not be any drama at all during the last hour. Or it could be one of those years, like 2009, when Mickelson won the Tour Championship and Woods won the FedEx Cup.
“Let me see if I get this straight,” Mickelson said that day. “I shot 65 and he shot (70) and he gets a check for $10 million?”
Some confusion is inevitable when it takes an accountant to sort out who’s winning what. But when the golf is this good, when the leaderboards are this strong, does it really matter?
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