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September 15, 2009 8:33 AM

Please fix the FedEx already!

Because we believe in straight talk and candor in the Grill Room, the management feels compelled to warn you that this column is mostly about golf's FedEx Cup.
Who says we don't look after you around here, eh?

To those of you brave enough to stick this one out, let's move on...

Yes, golf's version of the 'playoffs' has improved. The gods of Ponte Vedra Beach actually managed to make the confounding format a little more compelling and comprehensible this year.

And, yes again, the result of any championship system (sorry, Commissioner Finchem, this is a points race, not a playoff), no matter how wacky, should be to determine the best player or team when it is all over.

Well, right now Tiger Woods is leading the FedEx race, and even if he took an 0-for-4 in this year's majors, is still undeniable the game's best player by about the length of a solidly struck 3-wood.

Further, if you've been watching any of the FedEx tournaments the last three weeks, you'll notice all the big names are still playing -- Ernie, Phil, Sergio, Padraig, etc.
This might be the system's biggest caveat, because before the FedEx came along, chasing these guys away from their mansions and onto the golf course in September was like coaxing a smile from Tiger.

So the FedEx has accomplished some of the things it set out to do.

But how many of you out there brave enough to still be reading this column understand the FedEx Cup? Come on, let's see a show of hands. Put your hand down, commissioner.
Really? Nobody?

Me either -- and neither do many of the players.

Trust me, if a certified golf geek like myself can't walk you through this, it's broken, and not worth my time, or yours, to explain. If you really, really want to try to understand the rules, read this, but please return -- all three of you.

The fix

Assuming you're back, we have a suggestion to make this thing a snap to understand and most likely even more compelling to watch: Get rid of the points, and base the thing strictly on golf results. You know, like under par and over par, and all that?

The player with the lowest cumulative score after the final four events and 16 rounds of golf wins. Period.

Oh, I suppose you could keep the points system throughout the season. That is pretty easy to understand. The better you finish in a tournament the more points you get. The better you play over the course of the year, the more points you earn.

But once you get to golf's version of the Final Four, start anew and dump the points.

Let's say the top 80 point-earners of the year earn a spot into the first of the Fedex Cup's final four events.
After the first week of action, you drop the bottom 20, and 60 players move onto the second stop. There would be no cuts.
Most important, their scores carry over from the previous tournament.

After the second event you drop another 20, and the remaining 40 players and their cumulative scores from the previous two tournaments play on.
After the third event you drop another 20, until you are left with the top-20 players based on scoring from the previous three stops, not points.

Could there be flaws in this system? Absolutely. The biggest might be if, golf gods forbid, Tiger shot his way out of it with a horrible first or second tournament.
Certainly, some top players would fall victim to this new format each year. But if you can't crack the top 60 out of 80, or 40 out of 60, you don't deserve a shot at a championship anyway, right?

And if these stars managed to scrape by into the next tournament, they'd have a chance to move up the leaderboard over the next four rounds.

Of course, there would also be the possibility of a run-away. Some dude named Tiger could play out of his mind and go into the final weekend with a 16-shot lead or something. Even if that happened, you couldn't deny the fact that the tour had identified the best player. And 16-shot lead or not, TV loves Tiger.

No, we see nothing but upside to this suggestion, and, most important: everybody would understand the dang thing.


There's been a lot made this past week in the golf world about Greg Norman using one of his two captain's picks on countryman Adam Scott for the looming Presidents Cup competition, Oct. 8-11, at San Francisco's Harding Park.

The choice, and the fact Norman never allegedly even gave him a courtesy call, irked one Rory Sabbatini.

While the haughty Shark has always battled a chip on his shoulder disguised as a fin, I'm not sure what other choice he had here.

Yes, Scott had a horrendous season, tumbling 50 places to No. 53 in the world rankings, and even allegedly conceded he should have been left off the team.

But when Sabbatini's your next best option you have no other option. Sabbatini hasn't exactly been tearing it up, either, and sits at No. 41 in the world rankings. He has not finished in the top 30 of any event since his victory in the Byron Nelson Championship in May.

And if it came down to a tie-breaker between the two in Norman's mind, then he no doubt gave the nod to Scott, who is very well-liked by his fellow players., not so much.
In a team event camaraderie is crucial.

Norman should get kudos for nabbing Japan's 17-year-old golfing sensation, Ryo Ishikawa, with his other pick. If one of the major aims of this event is to generate interest around the world, capturing the golf-crazy Japanese market is key. Most important, this kid can flat play.

On the U.S. side, captain Fred Couples nabbed this year's U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover, and last year's Ryder Cup stalwart Hunter Mahan, surprising no one.
A case could have been made for either Brian Gay or Dustin Johnson. Both have won twice over the last calendar year.

Still, Couples called the choice of Mahan "a no-brainer."

Maybe, but one thing's for sure, with the emergence of its younger guns, the U.S. suddenly has a very deep roster of players to choose from.

A look at the teams:
Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Yang, Tim Clark, Adam Scott, and Ryo Ishikawa.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Sean O'Hair, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Lucas Glover, and Hunter Mahan.

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