PGA Tour Rank and File
The Tour's bottom-feeders, desperate to finish exempt in the top 125 orconditionally exempt in the top 150, feasted on the Fall Series. In the end, arecord 99 players won more than $1 million.
This is an article from the Nov. 12, 2007 issue
In May he ended any controversy over his split with coach and crony Rick Smithby winning the players Championship. But that wasn't as sweet as his Labor Daystare down of Tiger Woods at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which validatedthe FedEx Cup playoffs.
The spirited yet gracious north-of-the-border fans were the definition ofsportsmanship during the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal. even U.S. partisanssecretly cheered when Mike Weir saved face for the host country with his fineplay, especially his singles win over Woods.
A million things could've gone wrong with the inaugural series, but nothingdid. There were four fantastic winners: Steve Stricker's Cinderella story atWestchester, Mickelson's squeaker over Tiger in Boston, Woods turning on thejets with a closing 63 in Chicago and then Tiger crushing the field in Atlanta.Most important: The first FedEx Cup has Woods's name on it.
The Woodman blistered the field in Memphis and finished second to Tiger at thePGA. But it was his pratfall into the drink during the Presidents Cup thatcould've been a winner on America's Funniest Home Videos.
The Memory of anImmortal
The feel-good victory of the year belonged to EDS Byron Nelson Championshipwinner Scott Verplank, a native of Dallas who, while growing up and then laterin his career, had been mentored by the legendary Lord Byron.
The so-called fifth major was moved from March to May, and while the weatherwasn't much better, the conditions at TPC Sawgrass were. The Stadium courseplayed firmer and faster.
The Jethro Bodine of the Tour was a first-time winner (Harbour Town) and smartenough to stay in character. Asked if he'd spent time in the U.K. this year,Boo replied, "No, sir, I was in Scotland."
Woods won six times (for a career total of 61), including a major (PGA, 13overall), and brilliantly bookended '07, starting the year by stretching hisTour winning streak to seven and ending it with wins in Akron, at the PGA andtwice in the playoffs.
The seven stops after the FedEx Cup playoffs had some name winners, butsponsors couldn't have been happy after their investments induced one top 10player (Phil Mickelson) to tee it up. Equally alarming was the dearth ofspectators and Golf Channel viewers (average rating for the first five events:0.30), who must've thought they were watching the Nationwide tour.
In what should've been his finest hour, Lefty went on TV at the Deutsche Bankand whined about an unexplained slight he had suffered at the hands of TimFinchem.
Loaded with stars like Ernie Els, this team was supposed to be better than anyof the European Ryder Cup sides that've been beating up on the U.S. Instead,the Internationals were a presidential flop.
Almost everyone who teed it up agreed that the system doesn't need to betweaked. It needs to be blown up. The biggest problem: There wasn't enoughvolatility in the standings during the playoffs, leading several players totake a week off and making the race for the $10 million annuity (another sorepoint) a snooze, with only the top two on the seasonlong points list and theguys who won the playoff events having a realistic shot.
What self-respecting superhero would want to see his name hijacked by asquinty-eyed, 43-year-old golf pro who stumbles in water hazards?
The Less Than FullNelson
In the year after the icon's death, his tournament went from must-playstatus—who could say no after receiving one of the great man's handwrittennotes?—to must-miss. The 64-year-old event was done in by a reassignment to anunattractive date in April and unsightly greens at the Cottonwood Valleycourse.
Tiger and Phil launched the first torpedoes by skipping the winners-onlyMercedes-Benz Championship and had fans wondering if the first team was evergoing to come out to play.
This Cinderella fella turned into a bumpkin pumpkin, losing his card and livingon sponsors' exemptions, returning the favor by WD'ing six times (pageG22).
Imagine how much bigger Woods's season would've been had he caught Zach Johnsonat Augusta and Angel Cabrera in the U.S. Open. It was almost a colossal yearfor Woods. Instead, he gave us a merely gargantuan one.
See Gary VanSickle's Inside Golf at GOLF.com