BMW Championship round four: Some people are never happy
You’d think they’d know when to quit, the FedEx Cup naysayers. Even though two competitions of the utmost quality have blown the wind out of their sails they try to struggle on with the oars. So now the FedEx Cup is a disaster because the greens at East Lake for the Tour Championship are in a parlous state.
Here’s a classic example from the Daily Herald, a site covering suburban Chicago: “For a series that already has taken more body blows than Gerry Cooney, the FedEx Cup suffered its biggest yet Sunday.” Body blows? One or two players skipping a competition? As worldgolf.com’s Brandon Tucker points out, the only one on the ropes from that decision is Mickelson. The greens problem is obviously serious, and looks likely to detract from the high quality we have come to expect of this competition, but that in itself says something about how good the FedEx Cup has been.
We have just witnessed some of the most superlative golf we could have hoped for, at a time when previously we would have been watching the top players simply popping in to top up their bank balances and the second XI grubbing around to make it through to next year. Three compelling weeks of top-notch golf and still people moan. There’s surely another agenda at work here, but I don’t know what it is.
Okay, Cog Hill didn’t put up much of a fight, as you can tell from the fact that Sunday’s scoring average was the lowest in tournament history, just beating the previous record set 24 hours earlier. Those two rounds also happen to be the first ever where the average has been in the 60s.
Even so, if I was Aaron Baddeley or Steve Stricker I’d be pretty gobsmacked that I had broken the course record for four rounds and yet still lost. That is a measure of just how good Tiger Woods was on Sunday - correction, how good he had to be. As low as he has ever been in a final round: 11 one-putts for goodness sake! If he had played to the level of previous days, or like last week, he would have struggled.
The crucial moment was obviously Tiger’s immense 50-foot putt on the 12th that pricked the balloons of his watching opponents. You could almost hear the mental air fizzing out of Stricker as his following tee shot clanked off a tree. I’m not the first to make the point though that what has made these last two tournaments stand out is the measure by which Tiger has been forced to play at his utmost to win.
Does Stricker have another week in him? You can imagine Tiger does after skipping the Barclays. Mickelson, too, should be fighting fit, but his task is now much harder. He could win the Tour Championship in a playoff against Woods and still not win the FedEx Cup. Still, those greens sound as if we could be in for a bit of a lottery.
PS: On the subject of the damaged greens at East Lake, why are we only just learning about it? Have they suddenly deteriorated in the last few days? Not according to Ernie Els who says he knew there were problems weeks ago. Sounds like there are plenty of questions to be answered about this one.
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