Hate to be Rude: Ringin’ in the playoffs

Tiger Woods holds the FedEx Cup trophy after winning the Tour Championship in 2007.

Tiger Woods holds the FedEx Cup trophy after winning the Tour Championship in 2007.

• The third version of the FedEx Cup playoffs begins this week at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., where the 18th green is less than 1,000 yards from the 151-foot-tall Statue of Liberty. That means a few things, including this: While Long Lady Liberty won’t talk while holding the torch, others will. In the shadow of the Apple, golf crowds tend to have the need to express.

• The FedEx playoffs should be much improved, given a second tweaking after last year. But lost in the shuffle of the first two stagings, when criticism was leveled at the points system, was the best thing about the so-called playoffs: Premier players go up against each other four times after the PGA Championship, this year over five weeks.

Forget about the playoffs. The value here lies in the heavyweights going mano-a-mano more often. That’s what the majors are about. That’s why the World Golf Championships were established. That’s why this FedEx thingy eventually should gain traction.

This week there’s participation by everyone in the top 125 except the injured Paul Casey. We’re one chest muscle shy of a load.

• The new rules will allow for 11th hour drama, as opposed to last year when Vijay Singh just had to complete 72 holes at the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup and it’s $10 million bonus.

Here’s a primer of some mathematical possibilities now that points are quintupled and then reset at the season-ending Tour Championship:

Everyone in the top 125 has a mathematical chance to make the Tour Championship (top 30). Anyone who wins a playoff event has a good chance making the top 5 entering the Tour Championship.

Anyone in the top 5 who wins the Tour Championship would claim the FedEx Cup. Anyone there has a chance to win the Cup, but Nos. 6-30 would need help.

This week, anyone in the top 32 has a chance to pass No. 1 Tiger Woods. At the same time, the top 42 entering the Barclays are assured of reaching the field of 100 next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

• Players from 14 countries are represented in the Barclays field: U.S., South Korea, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Fiji, Ireland, Spain, Japan, Sweden and Germany.

Has Olympic golf already arrived?

• What do golf and basketball have in common? A point or two can make all the difference at the end.

Troy Matteson earned the 125th and final spot in the Tour’s FedEx playoffs by one point over Matt Jones and two over Ken Duke. Jones missed a birdie putt on the last hole Sunday at the Wyndham Championship that would’ve gotten him in.

• Also just missing the playoffs was Corey Pavin. That seques into this opinion about 2010 Ryder Cup captain: Based on from where he has had to play his tee ball, he’s the best player in golf history.

Pavin ranks 201st in distance this year, averaging 260.7 yards. He averaged around 252 off the tee year after year until new millennium technology boosted him to a high of 268.9 in 2003.

If he’s not the best of all time after the drive, who is? Paul Runyan? Tiger Woods?

Michelle Wie grows at the Solheim Cup and suddenly the LPGA product looks better. Just wait till she wins for the first time since age 13.

Trophy weigh-off: I’ve heard it said that the Wanamaker Trophy is the heaviest trophy in professional sports. Wrong. The Wannamaker, weighing in at 27 pounds, isn’t even the heaviest in golf.

The FedEx Cup trophy tips the scale at 33.1 pounds. That means there might be a couple of possible FedEx winners who won’t want to hold that up for long during the many photo ops.

Lord Stanley’s hockey cup beats anything golfy, at 34 1/2 pounds. That’s before the Moosehead lager is poured into it.

• Gannett and the Associated Press have balked at new Southeastern Conference rules limiting Web video and audio use, photo displays, and blogging. The restrictions include no blogging on newspaper Web sites during games.

I hadn’t realized Carolyn Bivens was hired so quickly to run the SEC.

• It just dawned on me that not only aren’t big names Tiger killers, neither are they big guys.

Ed Fiori is 5-7. Y.E. Yang is listed at 5-9 (wink, wink).

And one of the famous Almost Tiger Killers, Bob May, stands 5-7.

I like Tadd Fujikawa’s chances more than ever.

• • •

Jeff Rude’s “I Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday, the same day as his video show of the same name.

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