Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: The Barclays

August 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

That gust you heard wasn’t Hurricane Irene, but a sigh of relief coming from the PGA Tour officials who decided Saturday was a suitable day to conclude The Barclays.

HurricaneYes, with all of New Jersey under a state of emergency and nearby New York shutting down its mass transit system in advance of the cyclone, the show went on at Plainfield CC in Edison, N.J. Fortunately, they managed to finish the FedEx Cup’s first 2011 event early Saturday afternoon and get everyone off the course safe and sound.

Dustin Johnson weathered the storm better than anyone. The lanky, athletic wonder swamped 36-hole leader Matt Kuchar with a final-round 65, vaulting into the top spot in the Cup standings with three tourneys to go.

The next sound you hear will be our polite acknowledgement of the weekend’s winners.

Golf Claps

  • Dustin Johnson: Hurricane, schmurricane. Johnson rained on Kuchar’s parade with a front-nine 29 (6-under), then cruised home with nine straight pars as Kuchar crumbled. The win was Johnson’s first this season and fifth of his career. It put him not only in command of the FedEx Cup race, but in contention for the subjective title of Best American Golfer.
  • Vijay Singh: Thought ol’ Veej was done for, didn’t you? Hardly. By tying for third, Singh jumped from 36th to eighth in the Cup standings, giving him a chance to take the whole shooting match for the second time. While he hasn’t won in three years, Singh, now 48, is feeling fine thanks to a recent injection in his ailing back. Watch out for him at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, which he won in 2008.
  • Ian Poulter (pictured): Staring at FedEx Cup elimination, the colorful Englishmen needed a furious finish toIan Poulter keep his season alive. Four birdies in the last five holes and a closing 64 did the trick, pushing Poulter from 114th all the way to 78th.
  • Ernie Els: Likewise, Els fired a final-round 67 to sneak into the top Cup’s 100 – 99th to be exact – and qualify for the Deutsche Bank. Things don’t come as easy for big Ernie as they once did, but at least he’s showing signs of life.

Silent Treatment

  • Tour planners: OK, so all’s well that ends well. But it seemed odd, almost arrogant, to be playing a golf tournament amidst the chaos Irene brought to the Northeast. While families sought shelter and supplies in preparation for the worst – which thankfully didn’t materialize – pro golfers whistled while they, um, worked. Weird.
  • The eight who dropped out: Say goodbye to Bryce Molder, Hunter Haas, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Nick O’Hern, Matt Bettencourt, Tim Herron and Michael Bradley. They slipped from the top 100 in the Cup standings and failed to qualify for the remaining events. But hey, that means plenty of free time to watch football!

Spy on Golf: FedEx Cup Keeps It Short, USGA Goes Long

What’s the golf world talking about this week?

Aside from Tiger Woods, that is?

FedEx Cup logoFor starters, the PGA Tour’s oft-maligned but fairly entertaining FedEx Cup gets underway Thursday with The Barclays. No “Classic,” no “Championship,” just The Barclays. (Yeah, it takes some getting used to.)

Golf also holds its biggest non-professional event this week. The U.S. Amateur, boasting a roster of past winners like Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, will crown its 111th champion at Erin Hills Golf Course in the hinterlands of Wisconsin.

Here’s an oddity: The Barclays features a course measuring less than 7,000 yards, while the amateurs must tame a track tipping out at 7,700-plus. More on that in a moment.

As for Tiger, he spent last weekend working with the geek squad at EA Sports, preparing the 2013 version of his immensely popular video game. Too bad the game has a better Q Rating than Tiger himself. One survey reveals that 42 percent of the public view Woods unfavorably – not far behind America’s most disliked celeb, Paris Hilton (60 percent).

Maybe somebody should introduce those two…

FedEx Cup: Uphill climb for some players

Here’s how The Barclays shakes out:Plainfield Country Club

The top 125 players in the regular-season FedEx Cup standings comprise the field; the top 100 in the post-tourney standings survive to play next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

The Tour folks guesstimate that the current top 87 are safe regardless of how they fare this week, leaving 13 spots up for grabs. That means guys like Anthony Kim (92), Graeme McDowell (93), Retief Goosen (103) and Camilo Villegas (109) need to get hot or go home.

More interesting, to us anyway, is how the pros handle Plainfield County Club, a Donald Ross-designed classic in Edison, N.J. At just 6,964 yards, it’s a pipsqueak by today’s standards. It’s also been drenched by rain in recent weeks, meaning the course could be vulnerable to a deluge of low scores.

Erin Hills continues new direction for USGA, American golf

While the pros tackle diminutive Plainfield, the amateurs face the longest course in USGA history. At its max, Erin Hills stretches to a gulp-inducing 7,760 yards, topping by 18 yards the record set in this event last year by Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.

Both courses were built within the last five years and will host future U.S. Opens (Chambers Bay in 2015, Erin Hills in 2017). And their length comes with a couple of caveats.

For one, ace USGA setup man Mike Davis promises significant changes in day-to-day tee placements, predicting Erin Hills actually will play between 7,200 and 7,600 yards.

Second, the course is conditioned to play firm and fast, allowing drives to run out to what figure to be ridiculous distances. That’s in keeping not only with the Chambers Bay template, but the nascent move toward firmer fairways throughout American golf.

It’s a movement we’re completely on board with for a number of reasons; we’ll discuss those in a future installment.

In the meantime, enjoy this week’s action. Oh, and if you run into Tiger, tell him you know of a girl who’s just his type.

Get Adobe Flash player