Aug 20

Teeing Off: How the FedEx Cup playoffs have become a success

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at @shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we take a look at the FedEx Cup playoffs that begin this week at the Barclays.

Bacon: It's that time of year again! No, not college football starting or the NFL getting going, but the FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS! It's crazy to think that this is the eighth season of the FedEx playoffs, and while most were skeptical at first at the reasoning behind an end-of-season playoff in golf, it really has made the post-major PGA Tour season interesting. Am I alone here, or do you think the playoffs have become a success? 

Busbee: I am totally biased here because the TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP (you'd better use ALL THE CAPS) is right in my backyard, virtually, and I'm all in favor of covering events where I get to sleep in my own bed and not some college friend's couch. But personal biases aside, yes, I think that the playoffs are doing what they're supposed to do: bolster interest in a late-season event for a sport that otherwise would effectively shut down until April in the public eye.

Now, I'm curious as to your perspective: do you think this is a legitimate full-season excitement, or is it more about getting fired up over these last few weeks?

Bacon: It seems more and more as the purses grow and the interest in the European Tour increases, it's really tough to get all the top names in the same field for non-majors, so that is the reason I get the most excited. We call the big four "majors" because someone long ago named them as such, but isn't a "major" really just the best in the world competing against each on the same stage? That's the thing I find cool about the playoffs. Rory and Bubba were paired together at the PGA, and they're paired together again this week. Justin Rose, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Sergio ... they're all in the field, and to me, that constitutes a big event. And for all of it to come together as we head to the Ryder Cup, that's pretty cool.

We do always ask this question, and I'll bring it up again — is there something that can change about the playoffs to get non-golf fans interested, or is this just going to be an insurmountable problem considering all the other sports that are coming back at the same time?

Busbee: The way that golf structures its calendar, this is a flat-out impossible problem to get around. You've got college and pro football firing up, and that's going to consume the attention of all but the fans who could tell the difference between Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson. It's just the way it is, at least until another golfer breaks through into the cultural mainstream the way whatsisname did a few years back.

Rory is close. Rory's already a must-watch player in the golf world, and if he plays well all the way through to East Lake, you can expect him to rate high in the highlight shows. (Not above SEC football and Johnny Manziel, of course. Let's not get crazy.) But absent him, it's just impossible for anybody to move the needle with the casual fan.

Which makes me think that golf should probably not spend so much time worrying about this mystical, perhaps mythical "casual fan." Focus on the people who truly care about the sport, who are around Tiger or no Tiger. With that in mind, what changes, if any, do you think are needed to maintain the attention of hardcore fans?

Bacon: To me, it's all about the level of competition. If it's Steven Bowditch versus Troy Merritt down the stretch in Atlanta, I'm not sure the casual golf fan is going to be setting their DVR for Sunday, but if Rory continues to play well and we see Rickie Fowler snag a title or two during the playoffs (something I think he really needs to complete his fantastic year), it'll get sports fans interested. 

I will say, a rivalry would be nice in golf. Tiger and Rory are buddies. Rory and Sergio had lunch together before the final round of the Bridgestone. Rory and Rickie seem totally chummy. I'm not saying we need guys to hate each other, but the fact that Tiger and Phil weren't best friends made the rivalry that much more interesting (not to mention Tiger and Garcia). 

I just ... these golfers don't really need the controversy. It does "their brand" no good, and when they aren't on the golf course playing practice rounds, they're flying private jets together and sending congratulatory tweets back and forth. Again, that is very much how the game of golf has evolved, but two guys really wanting to kick the heck out of one another would at least give people a side to pick. 

Busbee: Man, what a great point. Golf, and indeed all sports, has evolved into a fraternity with a select few chosen to compete for the rest of us unwashed to watch, and those in the circle feel a bond and a connection to their colleagues that transcends competitiveness. Sure, it's lovely for them, but for us? Come on, fellas, this isn't an exhibition.

You almost wish Bubba had erupted at a fellow player, not his caddy, over the last few weeks. At least then we'd have a bit of beef to work with. But you're right, anybody who tries to start anything now will be accused of pushing some agenda, or will get buried on social media, so why even bother?

So we're left with great golf, if not necessarily great stories. Is that a good enough tradeoff?

Bacon: I think so. The British, Firestone and the PGA were all must-see golf events, if not for the people involved for the golf at hand. What Rory is doing is fantastic, but we have a lot of big names (Fowler, Sergio, Scott) all playing great golf at the same time. 

I think golf is in a better place than most might think, and I expect the battle for that $10 million bonus in your neck of the woods to be an exciting one from this Thursday up until that last round at East Lake. 

Real fast, give me your FedEx Cup champion. 

Busbee: I'd love to see Rickie jump up and grab it, but I'm going older-school: Sergio Garcia FTW. And you?

Bacon: Fowler seems like the pick if you are going to go with SNNR (someone not named Rory)! Now we have both the guys that probably will finish 2-3 to McIlroy! 

Busbee: And you know what? I'd be fine with that too.

And now your turn ... do you think the FedEx Cup playoffs work, and are you excited for the next four weeks of golf?

Aug 20

Bubba Watson apologizes for his actions at the PGA Championship

There have been plenty of major championships that showed the great side of Bubba Watson. Both his Masters wins come to mind, but his impressive play at the 2010 PGA Championship made us realize that this guy might be more than just a long-hitter when he found himself in a playoff with Martin Kaymer.

This year's PGA was a different story. Bubba spent most of the week complaining about this or that, making some personal statement that nobody really understood during the long-drive competition when he hit 3-iron off the tee despite using driver all four days of the actual tournament, and then complaining on the course about the conditions that everyone else in the field was also dealing with.

Any golfer can tell you that this game can drive you to do stuff that doesn't fit your personality, and Watson came out and apologized for everything that went down at Valhalla.

"You've got to learn from your mistakes," Watson told the Associated Press this week at the Barclays. "You learn from being selfish instead of looking at the bigger picture in life."

"Not competing in the Long Drive was the first mistake. When you look at just me as an individual, that was the selfish part, because I didn't agree with it."

It's all childish stuff and trying to mature and become a better man. Obviously I take it, I take it on the chin. It was my fault."

This isn't the first time Watson has apologized for what happened at the PGA, taking to Twitter during the week to let people know he was sorry for the way he acted.

It's good to hear Bubba acknowledge all of this and let the world know it isn't him. Golf needs stars like Bubba to continue to reach out to a fan base that can grow this game, and the fun-loving Bubba that posts cool YouTube videos and has a lot of fun off the course needs to line up with the man on the golf course that is trying to win big golf tournaments.

It sounds like Watson sees that and wants to change, which is a very, very good thing for both Bubba and the PGA Tour.

You will get to see the new Bubba on Thursday at the Barclays, when he tees it up with Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker for the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events.

Aug 20

Matt Kuchar hurt his back while searching for a Slip ‘N Slide for a party

We've heard of some crazy injuries over the years in professional sports, but not many can match what kept Matt Kuchar out of the PGA Championship.

Kuchar, the No. 7 ranked player in the world and a man most think is very close to snagging that first major championship, withdrew from the final major of the year because of a back injury, but it just came to light what actually happened to the 36-year-old.

It was a failed Slip 'N Slide search for a party at his house on Tuesday of PGA week that was the reason we didn't see Kuchar in the field, as he explained to the Golf Channel this week at the Barclays.

“We were having a party at the house — a bunch of people over, a bunch of kids over,” Kuchar said. “I was in charge of hooking up the Slip 'N Slide for the kids. Walked around, all of Target, all of Wal-Mart, couldn’t find one. Sat in the car for about an hour fighting traffic and when I got back, I thought, 'Boy, my back doesn’t feel very good right now.'”

Matt Kuchar bumming around a Target the week of a major championship? Pro golfers, they're just like us!

Kuchar did say he's back to being 100 percent healthy, some rare good news for Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, who has seen a lot of his potential stars struggling this season with injuries, and it's a good time to feel good considering he won the Barclays in 2010, but just know that even the best golfers in the world can tweak something from simply doing nothing at all.

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Aug 19

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy visit Jimmy Fallon to promote Nike and play games

On Monday night, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." Or, perhaps, that should read "Rory McIlroy visited Jimmy Fallon, and brought along Tiger Woods as a special guest." Whichever, all three had a fine time, but it was clear McIlroy is the man of the moment.

The appearance was part of a Nike product launch, touting the new "Vapor" iron series, and included a pre-show media event at the Statue of Liberty. There and at the show, Fallon and McIlroy traded golf swings. Woods, still recovering from back surgery, indicated he won't be swinging a club for at least another month.

Still, Woods was effusive in his praise of McIlroy, who in turn was gracious about Woods' approval.

“We’ve seen him have runs like this before," Woods said of McIlroy. "He made a wholesale equipment change and also at the same time made a few changes in his swing. It’s tough to make all those changes work at the same time, especially at the elite level. When he puts it together, he can get on hot streaks and runs like this. To win two major championships and a World Golf Championship, that’s tough stuff. That’s not easy to do and not many people have.”

“It’s a huge compliment for me to be compared with Tiger,” McIlroy said. “But I'll never be able to do what he's done for the game.”

He did one thing Woods didn't do: defeat Fallon at his own game. Fallon famously topped Woods in a video game showdown, but McIlroy came out the winner in the FACEBREAKERS showdown. Conveniently enough, the trophy was already engraved with his name.


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aug 18

Winners and losers from the Wyndham and LPGA Championship

This past weekend saw a lot of great storylines and we are here to give you the good and the bad of it. Here are our winners and losers from the past week in golf.


Camilo Villegas — Years ago, Villegas was the "next big thing" in golf, a young, fit star from Columbia with a ton of potential and the appeal to pull different fans to golf. Villegas' career took a serious hit in 2012 when he made just 15 of 25 cuts and failed to card a single top-10, and while it didn't improve much in 2013, there were signs that he could return to relevance. The 63 that Villegas put together on Sunday at the Wyndham was good enough for a one-shot victory and a fourth PGA Tour win. It also moved Villegas up to 37th on the FedEx Cup points list, important considering the next four weeks of golf and the money to be made if he can continue to play like he did at Sedgefield.

Inbee Park — As regulation was winding down at the LPGA Championship, it looked like Americans would sweep the majors in 2014, but when Brittany Lincicome three-putted the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Park, it seemed inevitable that the 26-year-old from South Korea would finish with the trophy. Another bogey by Lincicome in the playoff meant a a fourth major title in the last 10 LPGA majors, and a fifth overall for Park.

Sang-Moon Bae — Needing a good week to qualify for the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Bae shot matching 66s on the weekend to sneak into the top-125 and earn a spot at the Barclays next week. Bae finished his round off with a 10-footer on the 72nd hole for a birdie, celebrating like a man that had a goal in mind before the week began and was able to pull it off.

Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker — Knowing that Tom Watson is looking for anyone playing well to pick with his three captain's selections, Simpson and Snedeker both finished T-5 at the Wyndham, trending in the right direction to sport the red, white and blue next month at the Ryder Cup.


Nick Watney — For most of Sunday, it looked like Watney would be the PGA Tour player with the jump-start win, and needing a birdie on the last to tie Villegas at 17-under, Watney hit his tee shot out of bounds, making a disappointing double-bogey to drop into a T-5.

Heath Slocum — Not only was Slocum playing for a spot in the playoffs next week, but the 40-year-old had a chance to win his fifth PGA Tour title after an eagle on the 15th and a birdie on the 16th. That was when the wheels started to come off, with Slocum making a bogey on the 17th and with a 50-foot birdie putt on the last to get back to 17-under and tie Villegas, he ran it well by, missing the par putt that not only dropped him another spot on the leaderboard, but would have landed him a spot in the top-125. Now Slocum has to head back to the Tour Finals if he wants to earn his PGA Tour card for 2015, a really disappointing finish for the man that had plenty at stake down the stretch at the Wyndham.

Aug 18

The Week In Style: 08.20.14

Mr. Style's weekly look at what people are wearing on and off the golf course. Want his take on your look? Submit your style to @GolfDigestMag on Twitter using #HeyMrStyle.
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Aug 17

Kevin Sutherland becomes the first Champions Tour player to ever shoot 59

The Champions Tour is named "champions" for a reason. So many legends turn 50 and take their talents to a completely different tour, going up against huge names in golf that can still really, really golf their ball.

But unlike the PGA Tour, nobody had ever broke 60 until Saturday on the Champions Tour. While we've seen six 59s on the PGA Tour, never has someone done that on the Champions Tour until Kevin Sutherland got going in the second round of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

Sutherland, who turned 50 on July 4, had one of the hottest starts ever to a round, playing his first eight holes in 9-under, and after a par on the ninth, added two more birdies to get to 11-under after just 11 holes.

After three straight pars, Sutherland needed some magic and got it, adding three straight birdies to get to 14-under par (!), finishing with a bogey on the last and still shooting 13-under for the day.

It was an amazing round of golf, and one that will live on in the history of the Champions Tour as the lowest ever, and one of the craziest starts you will ever see from any golfer, 50 or otherwise.