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Opinion & Analysis

2012 FedEx Cup: A Festivus for the Best of Us

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For its first five years, the FedEx Cup seemed like an over-hyped, under-appreciated second tier holiday, like having a formal ball to celebrate Arbor Day. Even with Tiger Woods busting the piñata in two of the first three FedEx fiestas, it was hard to shake the plain truth that the PGA Tour needed to clear the decks in the Fall as the nation turned its attention to football.

But it was different this year. The 2012 Fed Ex Cup series had the feel of a four-week long cross-country road race, kind of a golf version of those cross-continent rally races. The best players in the world played the best golf of the season for a full month, producing a playoff series that was worthy of the king’s ransom that Fed Ex Cup winner Brandt Snedeker secured with his three shot win in the Tour Championship. Snedeker used a trusty driver, a hot putter and a bit of magic around the greens to take the Tour Championship at 10-under 270, a sparkling score on a East Lake Golf Club layout that was as tough a test for the field as the more glamorous Augusta track to the north.

Yes, the FedEx Cup in 2012 was a Festivus for the best of us. Here’s a few of the gifts we got.

The Blonde Bombshell – For Snedeker, it was a son of the South securing the biggest victory of his career in his native region. Prior to this victory, the 31-year old Snedeker as primarily known for having the best head of hair on Tour (including the wives), and for a four-jack from 12 feet that kept him out of the Tour Championship in 2009. But in 2012, Snedeker rode his upbeat tempo and one of the Tour’s best putting stroke to a $11.4 million dollar payday, besting the world’s top two players in the process.  For the 2007 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, East Lake had the distinctive feel of a coming out party.

The Undisputed Heavyweight Champ – Rory McIlroy came into the FedEx Cup series as the prohibitive favorite to win Player of the Year honors. He left them as the unanimous choice. Equal parts precocious and prodigious, McIlroy won two events with scores in the 20-under range on courses that make most players consider putting a couple of extra balls in their bag before teeing off. With his booming drives, laser-guided irons and a knack for dropping all the putts he should make and many that he shouldn’t, McIlroy proved that when he is on there is currently no one, no one, in the world that that can stay with him. And does it all with a Gaelic twinkle in his eye that charms everyone around him. As George Kennedy said about Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”, “My boy, he smiles an angel, but he bites like a gator!”

Butch and Sundance – No matter how angry you have been at Tiger Woods, you had to feel good watching the interaction between him and McIlroy over the course of the last two months — it had to make you feel good for the guy. Woods has always ben more Hogan than Trevino on the course, and the events of the last three years on and off the course had given him the Tour’s most persistent case bitter-beer face. Enter the smiling Irishman; suddenly Tiger had a peer, someone who could play at the same level, someone who could appreciate the intense pressure that comes with majestic gifts and even loftier expectations. They strolled down the fairways like a couple of gods playing their usual $2 Nassau at Mt. Olympus Municipal. They appreciate each others’ game and each others’ lives in a way that other golfers simply cannot. Hopefully the taste of their friendrivalshipery that they gave us this Fall will be a full feast come springtime in Augusta.

Of course there was more to love. There were the great venues, the stellar performances by the best of the Old (Mickelson, Singh, Furyk) and the best of the New (McIlroy, Watson, Dustin Johnson). We got a look at most of the participants in the upcoming Ryder Cup in Medinah, the intensity of which will make the FedEx Cup look like a mini-season of the Big Break.

But the best gift of all is this; the anticipation we all feel for the 2013 season. These guys were good. Really good.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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Podcasts

Ping Engineer Paul Wood explains how the G400 Max driver is so forgiving

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Paul Wood, VP of Engineering at Ping, joins our 19th Hole to discuss the new G400 Max driver, which the company calls the “straightest driver ever.” Also, listen for a special discount code on a new laser rangefinder.

Listen to this episode on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes.

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