Phil Mickelson scorched the field on Sunday, shooting 65 and capturing the season ending Tour Championship by three shots over Tiger Woods. By virtue of his stellar play throughout the playoffs, Mr. Woods made off with the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize. Say what you will about golf playoffs, the possible permutations on the back nine Sunday were enough to amuse the confused. I tried to follow the explainations, but much like South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, found myself hiking the Appalacian Trail as a short cut to Argentina. No way I could keep up.
I did manage to grasp that, with Mr. Mickelson firmly in command, Steve Stricker only had to finish ahead of Mr. Woods to win the Cup. His hopes ended with a mud covered shot over the 16th green that led to a bogey. “There was so much riding on the line,” Stricker said. “There might be some tweaking again. Who knows? But I thought it provided a lot of excitement for the fans and the players. All the players coming in here this week had a legitimate chance at winning the FedEx Cup.”
Who knows indeed, at least this year the cup wasn’t decided before play even began for the week as it was last year. That was, yawn, fun. In 2007 Mr. Woods won it all even though he skipped an event. “What is right? Every year you’re going to have a scenario that’s going to jump out and you’re going to say, ‘That just doesn’t seem right,”’ Stricker said. “You’ve got to put something together like they did this year that creates a lot of excitement like this did. With five guys having a chance to win, it did do that.” I think the Tour got closer to the promised land with this iteration of the Cup. Look at the photo op on the 18th green after all the shots were played. Messrs. Woods and Mickelson next to one another each holding a trophy. That’s hard to beat for any sport.
Mr. Woods was done in again by a balky putter, at one point not having made a putt over 6 feet since a 48 foot plus bomb the previous day. Hardly the stuff of Woodsian lore, but all too familiar this season. Mr. Mickelson on the other hand led the tournament in putting and shot a nifty four under par 31 on the front side. Third round leader Kenny Perry began the day with a two shot lead, stretched that to four shots after two holes and then morphed into a Hoover (meaning he sucked). Sean O’Hair had a run at the leader as well until a bogey on the 17th hole led to a solo third place finish.
All in all these were the best playoffs yet, not exceptional, but at least more than one player had a chance to win the overall Cup coming down the stretch. Was it enough, I don’t know. I’ll wait for the TV numbers to decide, but going up against the third week of NFL action is a tough draw no matter how much excitement, contrived or not, is involved. The season feels over to me, and yes I know we still have the remaining Fall Schedule. That still strikes me as a bone to the guys who are the run of the mill players, not to disparage their games in any way, any one of them would hand me my lunch easily, but there just isn’t much special to look forward to until next year. The MLB playoffs and the NFL season will see to that in short order.
Congratulations to Mr. Mickelson, who played great golf despite all the emotional turmoil he’s been put through in his real life. It was fun to watch him play well. And as well to Mr. Woods, who gives new meaning to coming back from a major injury. Bouncing back to the best in the world status is plenty impressive.