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Thoughts on the Green: A look ahead to Tour Championship

Published: Sun, August 11, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m.

It’s hard to believe Labor Day and the Canfield Fair are right around the corner. With the end of summer comes another (lucrative) FedEx Cup Playoff series on the PGA Tour.

With only a few weeks left, I’m going to try to cram a few final PGA Tour topics into this one column.

Format: I didn’t realize until this week that the Tour has changed the point system for determining a FedEx champion yet again. In years past, players earned points in each event, including the season ending Tour Championship. Someone would win the Tour Championship. And the leading point winner for the year would win the FedEx Cup. This year that all changes.

Players earn points up to the Tour Championship. And then for the first time in my memory, there will basically be, for lack of a better term, “handicap” for the final event. The leading point earner starts the week at -10. Second place at -8. Down to the last five players in the field who will start at even par.

Actual score for the week won’t matter, it’s all relation to par. At the end of the tournament, the winner of the week wins the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. Pro, no more trying to project point totals throughout the week. Con, the lowest 72-hole score for the week doesn’t necessarily win the Tour Championship. Remember the excitement around Tiger Woods’ win last year? In this format, Justin Rose would have been the winner for the week. I’m not sold on it yet, but I am intrigued. With the winner getting a cool $15 million for the week, I’m guessing the 30 players who make the field will be just fine with it.

Speaking of FedEx Cup Playoffs, I’m going to make one final round of Vindy predictions.

Phil Mickelson — I think Lefty has started his final decline. His relevance, both in the FedEx Cup and the U.S. Teams (Ryder and President Cups), will be minimal. He’s been fun to watch. And I hope he gets one more major to break the record for oldest major winner. But I think week in and week out he’s about done.

Jordan Spieth — It’s hard to imagine the collapse of a 20-something, but I think we’re watching the painful fall of the former world No. 1. My pick for the year doesn’t make the Tour Championship.

Dustin Johnson — If anyone can win a few in a row, it’s DJ when he’s hot. I just don’t see it happening this year. I think he makes the Tour Championship. But doesn’t crack the top 10.

Rory McIllroy — Year in and year out he’s probably our best player. His game is built for success in the U.S. He’s won the FedEx Cup at East Lake before. And he just seems to step it up at the right time. I think he’s right there in the end, but just misses. Final pick: second place.

Brooks Koepka — He broke my streak when I correctly picked him in this year’s PGA Championship. And I’m going to attempt a 2 for 2 Koepka year with the FedEx Cup. Koepka is not your typical PGA Tour star. He doesn’t care about the “way it’s always been done.” From getting to the course 45 minutes before his tee time two Sundays ago when he was in the final pairing. To leaving millions on the table by not signing a club deal. To always talking like he has a chip on his shoulder. He’s probably too young to know it, by Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” should be on his play list. He does it his way. And he’s proving it works. I think 2019 is the year of Brooks.

Lastly, I want to touch on another person I think misses the Tour Championship — Tiger. When I started writing this column in 2013, I think Tiger was No. 1 in the world. Since then, we’ve seen a lot. Injuries, comebacks, more injuries, surgeries, short-game yips, multiple golf swings, multiple teachers, an almost retirement and finally the amazing comeback from 2018 through this year’s Masters.

Unfortunately, my gut tells me something is wrong again.

If we’ve seen Tiger’s final hurrah, I’ll finish with this. Love him or hate him, Tiger Woods changed (advanced) our game to a point no one thought possible 24 years ago. I’ve enjoyed getting to write about him. And I consider myself lucky to have witnessed his career.

I hope this is my final incorrect Vindy pick, but Tiger misses the Tour Championship. And never wins again.

Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah@thekarzmerinsurance.com.

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