The PGA Tour season will end following the TOUR Championship, with the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup point standings competing at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta this week. While there are many stories in golf following a super season that resulted in six major championships and an Olympic competition, a handful are worth noting.
…there is no disputing the excitement that DeChambeau generates…
The TOUR Championship Format
The PGA Tour has struggled since the inception of the FedEx Cup on how best to determine who wins its now $15 million bonus. They’ve cut down the playoffs from four events to three to make sure the PGA Tour doesn’t have to compete with the NFL for viewership, which in retrospect was an excellent decision.
Now, to alleviate any confusion that was created by different players winning the final tournament and taking home the FedEx Cup title along with all of that money, the PGA Tour implemented a format where the leader in points entering the final event starts at 10 under par, and everyone else has an opening score that decreases according to their point standing. If the intent was to avoid confusion, I’m not sure it succeeded, but at least there is only one winner on Sunday afternoon, and that’s the player who is at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of play.
United States Ryder Cup Team Qualification
The thrilling event that dates back to 1927 will take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin September 24 – 26. The United States qualifying period ended following the BMW Championship last week with the top six players in the standings earning spots on the team.
Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay are locked into the squad, with captain Steve Stricker scheduled to announce his six captain’s picks following the TOUR Championship. It will be interesting to see if Stricker deviates from naming anyone outside the top 12 in the standings to the team.
Those ranked seventh to 12th are Tony Finau, Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Patrick Reed, and Daniel Berger. Stricker, by naming long time Ryder Cup team member Phil Mickelson as an assistant captain, made it clear that the five time major champion won’t be playing at Whistling Straits.
Those players just outside the top 12 are former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Scottie Scheffler, two time 2021 tournament winner Jason Kokrak and Sam Burns. There is a chance that Stricker might be influenced by the performance of one or more of them in the TOUR Championship, but my prediction is that Stricker will stick with the standings and head to Wisconsin with a strong squad.
The Bryson DeChambeau Factor
The PGA Tour recognized the feud between former U.S. Open champion DeChambeau and four time major winner Brooks Koepka earlier this week by forbidding galleries following DeChambeau from chanting “Brooksy”. The prodigious distance that he produces, his scientific approach to the game and his bristly demeanor hasn’t done much to endear himself to many fans and other players, despite his eight victories including a major championship on his resume.
But there is no disputing the excitement that DeChambeau generates, and quite honestly, it’s somewhat refreshing. How is it possible to criticize DeChambeau yet embrace a 10,000 seat stadium around a par three at the Waste Management Phoenix Open?