Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Meet the FedEx Cup top contenders

Published

on

New Scoring System for the FedEx Cup

The FedEx Cup kicks off at The Northern Trust on August 8th, and the three-tournament event will feature a brand-new finish for 2019. For the first time, the winner of the final tournament, the Tour Championship, will automatically be declared the winner of the FedEx Cup and take home a check for $15 million.

In an effort to simplify the FedEx Cup, the rules were changed last season to introduce a new scoring system called FedEx Cup Starting Strokes. The revamped system will assign scores to each player based upon their FedEx points through the first two tournaments. The top golfers will start the Tour Championship anywhere from even-par to 10-under.

The alteration to the final scoring will assure that the Tour Championship winner is the FedEx Cup champion. Over the past 11 years of the FedEx Cup, the Tour Championship victor has not been the FedEx Cup champion on three different occasions, causing frustration among television viewers that could not follow the complicated rules.

Meet the FedEx Cup Top Contenders

With the start of the FedEx Cup just a few days away, let’s take a look at the top contenders for bringing home the champion’s take of $15 million.

Brooks Koepka

Easily the golfer with the best all-around season in 2019, Brooks Koepka will enter the FedEx Cup as the prohibitive favorite. The Florida native is the number-one player in the world has won the most money on the PGA Tour this season and leads the FedEx Cup points standings.

Koepka ranks in the top ten on the Tour in greens in regulation percentage, average birdies per round, and most importantly, scoring average. He has three wins on the season including his fourth major title, the PGA Championship, back in May.

Rory McIlroy

Coming off his disappointing Open Championship performance, Rory McIlroy could turn his frustration into a serious run at the FedEx Cup. In addition to his two wins this season, McIlroy has posted the best scoring average on the PGA Tour in 2019.

In his last three tournaments in America, McIlroy has posted rounds in the 60s in nine out of twelve total rounds. In his last five tournaments where he made the cut, McIlroy has finished in the top 10 in each event.

Matt Kuchar

The 41-year-old Matt Kuchar may not have the flashiest collection of stats this season, but the golfer has put together another solid year that includes winnings totaling over $6.2 million, good for third place on the PGA Tour in 2019.

Although he remains in the bottom third in driving distance, Kuchar ranks in the top eight in both greens in regulation percentage and scoring average. If the Georgia Tech graduate has one Achilles’ heel it is with the putter as Kuchar stands 107th on Tour with 29.04 putts per round.

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele stands fourth in FedEx Cup points and fifth in total money on the PGA Tour. Ranked 11th in the world, Schauffele has put together some very impressive performances on golf’s biggest stages as he finished tied for second at the Masters and tied for third at the U.S. Open.

Schauffele has been solid this season in his recent tournaments but, aside from the two majors, has rarely challenged for tournament wins since his Sentry Tournament of Champions victory in early January.

Gary Woodland

The 2019 U.S. Open champion is riding his first major win to a fifth-place spot in the FedEx Cup standings. The Kansas-native has missed two cuts and finished in the 50s in the four tournaments around his U.S. Open win.

If you were to try and pinpoint a weakness in Woodland’s game you might choose putting at first glance until you get to the birdie conversion percentage and you find that he has converted a whopping 35.79 percent of his birdie attempts, good for second on the PGA Tour this season.

Patrick Cantlay

Winner of the 2019 Memorial Championship, Cantlay has posted a stellar eight top-10 finishes this season on the PGA Tour. If you are an analytics fan, Cantlay shines in the total strokes gained per round. Patrick stands behind only Rory McIlroy, as the 27-year-old is posting an average of over two strokes gained on the field.

In big events this season, Cantlay finished third at the PGA Championship and ninth at the Masters. He made the cut in all four major championships in 2019.

Dustin Johnson

Ranked second in the world, Johnson continues to post impressive stats. The 35-year-old golfer is top-seven on tour in driving distance, birdie average, and sand save percentage. He also can drain a putt from anywhere as Johnson has knocked home 14 putts this year from beyond 25 feet.

Johnson came close to another career major with his second-place finish at the PGA Championship in May. One of the many reasons that Johnson cannot be discounted for the FedEx Cup is he has the fifth-best scoring average on tour in 2019 at 69.428 strokes per round.

Jon Rahm

The 24-year-old Spaniard has one victory on the PGA Tour and ten top-10 finishes this season. Rahm’s game is aggressive as he prides himself on hitting long drives and knocking home birdies from anywhere on the green. Rahm ranks seventh on tour in 2019 as he averages 4.3 birdies per round.

Rahm won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the end of April and has posted three straight top-11 finishes in his last three tournaments.

Tiger Woods

Although Tiger finished second last season in the FedEx Cup, due mainly to his Tour Championship win, he doesn’t have the same momentum heading into the 2019 edition of the event. Woods once again missed a cut at a major after posting 6-over 148 during the first two rounds of the Open Championship.

Citing his age and numerous surgeries, Woods told the media after his misfire at the Open that he just can’t rebound like he could in his 20s. Since Tiger will need to put together three straight stellar performances in the span of three weeks, it is not hard to believe that Woods might not be ready for the physical toll that the FedEx Cup will place on his beleaguered body.

Your Reaction?
  • 21
  • LEGIT12
  • WOW7
  • LOL2
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB1
  • SHANK14

Jordan Fuller is a golf enthusiast with over 25 years of experience on the golf course. He’s fallen in love with the game and now teaches golf to amateur players in Omaha, Nebraska. He also loves to write and share his learnings about the game in articles on his website, Golf Influence.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. John H.Holliday

    Aug 6, 2019 at 12:33 am

    Wood? ha,ha,ha,ha,…..

  2. Gerald Teigrob

    Aug 4, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    There’s something I don’t like about Koepka. He comes off as being the most arrogant and self-centered Fed Ex Cup leader and major winner. If he doesn’t let his head get any bigger he might become more of a favorite, but he will need to mellow quite a bit for me to cheer for him. DJ and Tiger will always be my favorites. And we all use age as an excuse when we crap out in golf…and the next game we rebound to shoot the best round of the year! I recovered from double knee surgery to enjoy the best golf I have played in some time! And after last year’s Tour Championship win I would say Tiger is still a heavy favorite in my books! Once he gets closer to 60 we’ll talk age, but even with that, clubs and technology have improved that as other pros like Tiger look to play into their 50s like the rest of us, they will need to adapt and stop playing clubs with specs they played in their 20s. No wonder more top players are developing back issues..they need to start playing what fits them. And I would suggest that a number of game improvement irons conform to be played on the PGA tour including my Bio Cell irons and the King Cobra F7 irons. Or play a stiffer graphite shaft/or hybrid shaft. Lots of options available and no one would consider them to be cheating!

  3. Pelling

    Aug 3, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Dumb format, no ones cares, and the top guys could care less about the extra money. See the Wyndham incentive that failed to attract any top players. There are only four tournaments that matter and they are now scrunched into a 120 day period. Golf is not NASCAR.

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Aug 4, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      I completely agree, Pelling! I don’t see the same flair and everyone has to either play other tournaments and run out of gas or play with the focus on the majors and suck the rest of the year! Case in point is Koepka! He shows up on the big days but forgets to show up during the rest of the season. The bigger events like majors and WGC events dole out a bunch of dollars and it has become more of a slugfest than something to aspire to! And having Rory explain to the media why he didn’t make the cut at the Open begalls me! Shit happens. And to use that to suggest Rory won’t win a Masters event…the media airheads said the same thing about Phil Michelson and he’s even won the Open that others counted him out of. He could still compete on the regular tour for a while just as Vijay Singh has! OMG…this has become a three-ringed circus instead of the type of event that Finchem would have been proud of! Wake up, Monahan and small the latte1

  4. Michael E Maloney

    Aug 3, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Is this the tiger effect? cause he won the tourney last year but shithead Justin rose took home the fedex cup which absolutely no one in that crowd gave 2 shits about and was not celebrated?

    Season long points give credit where credit is due for those not ranked so high and gives a chance to get in the playoffs. Then once in the playoff the points determine who moves forward only to make the final tourney then all points out the window and winner take all?

    so you can be in first place, before playoffs, win the first 3 tournaments of the playoff and be ahead by 3000+ points and if player #32 wins just this 1 tournament while technically you have way more points, that 1 winner guys gets the fedex cup?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Getting to know Payne Stewart

Published

on

Ever since that final putt fell in Pinehurst in 1999, Payne Stewart’s memory has enjoyed mythical qualities. A man of complex charm, but many of us who grew up without him recognize only his Knickerbocker pants, his flat cap, and his W.W.J.D. covered wrist wrapped around that United States Open trophy.

I had a wonderful opportunity to play a round of golf with two men that know a lot about Payne. One through friendship and the other through journalistic research.

Lamar Haynes was Payne Stewart’s close friend and teammate on the SMU golf team. He’s full of stories about Payne from the good old days. Kevin Robbins is an author who just finished a new book on Stewart’s final year of life, set to release to the public for purchase this October. He works as a professor of journalism at the University of Texas but has also enjoyed an impressive career as a reporter and golf writer for over 20 years.

We met at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, to talk about Payne. Robbins is a solid golfer who spends time working on his game, which tells me a lot about his personality. He is one of us.  As for Haynes, the guy hasn’t lost much since those SMU golf team days. He can still swing it. Fantastic iron player. And both men are wonderful conversationalists. They offered a unique perspective on Stewart—the golfer I grew up idolizing but never really knew. There’s a good chance you don’t really know him, either. At least not the whole story.

“Most golf fans now know the story of his ’99 U.S. Open win,” Robbins said.  “What they don’t know is where he came from.”

Robbins’ book, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Foreverchronicles Payne’s last year on earth with dramatic detail, covering his triumph at Pinehurst and the Ryder Cup at Brookline. And, of course, it tells the story of that tragic plane crash that took our champion from us. What the book doesn’t do is hide any of the blemishes about Payne’s life that have either been forgotten or pushed aside by brighter moments and memories.

“I thought that the other Payne Stewart books, while they have a place, they didn’t tell the whole story,” Robbins said.

The whole story, from what I read, was Payne being brash. A poor winner and sometimes a poor sport when he lost. He often said things he shouldn’t have said and then made those mistakes again and again.

“He had no filter,” remembered Haynes.  “Several close friends on tour had a hard time with him when he won his first Open. He didn’t take into account any of the consequences his words could create. He had a huge heart. Huge heart. But at times there was just no filter. But he grew a great deal over the last 2 or three years.”

It’s most certainly is a book about a change. A change in a man that was better late than never. But also a change in golf that began at the turn of the century and hasn’t really slowed down since.

“The 20 years since his death, to see the way golf has moved, what the tour looks like now,” Robins said.  “There was an evolution that was taking place in 1999 and we didn’t know how it would manifest itself. But now we do. So when you see Brooks Koepka hit a 3-wood in the US Open 370 yards, well that all really had its beginnings in 1998 and 1999. The Pro-V1 ball was being tested in 1999 and being rolled out in 2000. Fitness and equipment, sports psychology, nutrition. All of those things that a guy like Payne Stewart really didn’t have to pay attention to.”

But that change that occurred in Payne, culminating in his final year of life, is something worth learning. It’s a lesson for all of us. A guy on top of the world with still so much to fix. And he was fixing it, little by little.

“He was authentic,” Haynes said. “And he learned a lot later in life from his children. With their Bible studies. You saw a change in him. Very much. He had a peace with himself but he still would revert to his DNA. The fun-loving Payne. Raising children and being a father helped him tremendously.”

Payne was passionate about so many things in life but his children became a primary focus. According to Haynes, he would be so loud at his daughter’s volleyball games…yelling intensely at the referees…that they gave him an option: Either he wouldn’t be allowed to watch the games anymore or he needed to become a line judge and help out with the games. So, Payne Stewart became a volleyball line judge.

Lamar brought the head of an old Ram 7-iron along with him to show me. Damaged and bent from the crash, the club was with Payne on his final flight. He had it with him to show his guys at Mizuno as a model for a new set of irons. That Ram 7-iron belonged to Haynes and Payne had always adored the way it looked at address.

“Payne also used my old Mizunos the last year of his life,” Haynes said.  I had received the MS-4s 10 years earlier from Payne in 1989. They were like playing with a shaft on a knife. The sweet spot was so tiny on the MS-4. They made the MP29 and 14s look like game improvement irons. Payne used those. Then Harry Taylor at Mizuno designed him an iron, which later became the MP33. The 29 and 14s were very sharp and flat-soled. Well, Payne loved this old Ram iron set that I had.. He asked for my Ram 7-iron for Harry Taylor to model his new set. He liked the way it went through the turf. He had it with him on the plane. This is the club that started the MP33.”

It was Lamar Haynes, the man who seems to know just about everyone in the golf community, that set Robbins on this writing journey. Robbins had written one book previously: The story of the life of legendary golf coach Harvey Penick. But this book came a bit easier for Robbins, partly due to his experience, partly due to the subject matter, and partly because of Lamar.

“There’s a story here,” Robbins said. “With any book, you hope to encounter surprises along the way, big and little. And I did. I got great cooperation a long the way. Anybody I wanted to talk to, talked to me thanks to this guy Lamar Haynes.”

“Lamar said the first guy you need to talk to is Peter Jacobsen,” Robins said. “And I said ‘great can you put me in touch with him’ which became a common question to Lamar throughout the process.” Robbins chuckled.  “Literally 2 minutes later my phone rings. ‘Kevin, this is Peter Jacobsen here.'”

“Peter told me the story about the ’89 PGA championship in our first conversation. So literally in the first 10 minutes of my reporting effort, I had the first set piece of the book. I had something. Lamar made a lot happen.”

Lamar Haynes and Kevin Robbins

The book is not a biography, though it certainly has biographical elements to it. It is simply the story of Payne’s final year, with a look back at Payne’s not so simple career mixed in. The author’s real talent lives in the research and honesty. The story reads like you’re back in 1999 again, with quotes pulled from media articles or press conferences. Anecdotes are sprinkled here and there from all of Payne’s contemporaries. The storytelling is seamless and captivating.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much Colin Montgomerie remembered about the concession at the 1999 Ryder Cup,” Robbins said. “Colin can be a tough interview. He is generally mistrustful of the media. His agent gave me 15 minutes during the Pro-Am in Houston. This was in the spring of 2018. I met Colin on the 17th hole and he had started his round on 10. Just organically the conversation carried us to the fifth green. Just because he kept remembering things. He kept talking, you know. It was incredible. Tom Lehman was the same way. He said “I’ll give you 20 minutes” and it ended up being an hour and a half at Starbucks.”

The research took Robbins to Massachusetts, Florida, and Missouri—and of course, to Pinehurst. He met with Mike Hicks, Payne’s former caddie, there to discuss that final round. The two ended up out on Pinehurst No. 2, walking the last three holes and reliving the victory. It gives life to the story and fills it with detail.

“Part of what I hoped for this book is that it would be more than just a sports story,” Robbins said.  “More than just a golf story. The more I started thinking about where Payne began and where he ended, it seemed to me…and I’m not going to call it a redemption story although I bet some people do. People when they are younger, they have regrets and they make mistakes. They do things they wish they could take back but they can’t. So, what can they do? Well, they can improve. They can get better. That’s what Payne was doing with his life. He was improving himself. It was too late to change what he had done already. So what could he do with the future? He could be different.”

“It was accurate,” Haynes said.  “I had a tear when I finished it. I texted Kevin right afterward. I told him I couldn’t call him because I’m choked up so I texted him.”

So here’s two men who knew Payne Stewart, albeit in very different ways. They knew he was flawed in life but he got better. Was Payne Stewart that hero at Pinehurst, grabbing Phil Mickelson’s face and telling him the important thing is he’s going to be a father? Yes. But he was so much more than that. He was so much more than I knew before I read this book. Most importantly, Payne Stewart was always improving. A lesson for all of us, indeed.

If you want to hear more about my experience, tweet at me here @FWTXGolfer or message me on Instagram here! I look forward to hearing from you!

Your Reaction?
  • 106
  • LEGIT26
  • WOW17
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB2
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Sam Bettinardi

Published

on

In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with EVP of Bettinardi Golf, Sam Bettinardi. They discuss coming up as Bob’s son, the growth of the company, and why Bettinardi continues to be at the top of the putter conversations.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Sounding off on your favorite golf pet peeves!

Published

on

Steve and Knudson weigh in on your favorite golf pet peeves. From not fixing ball marks, to slow play, to guys telling you “good shot” when you make a quad! Knudson shot a 33 in his league and still thinks he isn’t a sandbagger.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending