A few days after this year’s Masters, a PGA Tour veteran offered his opinion of what had transpired at Augusta, saying the playoff was disappointing. Nothing against Bubba Watson, he said, but Louis Oosthuizen would have been the “proper” winner because he was a wonderful person and a player who employed such a beautiful swing.
Indeed, those are the first things that jump out at you when you study the 2010 Open Champion – his gentle and dignified nature and the swing. It is the best in the game.
Unfortunately, the swing hit a little turbulence early in Round 4 of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, and it cost the South African dearly.
He said he felt a pain in the upper right chest and shoulder area “on the drive, all the time,” and that’s what led to a horrific pull hook at TPC Boston’s par-4 fifth. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, because not only did No. 5 play as the toughest hole that day (field average 4.346), but his playing competitor, Rory McIlroy, had birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to cut Oosthuizen’s lead to one.
Unfortunately, the stinging pain at the tee was compounded when Oosthuizen made double bogey at the fifth and fell into a tie. One hole later, McIlroy birdied the sixth and had a lead he would never relinquish.
“(The pain) sort of eased off going on the back nine,” Oosthuizen said. “Going down 12, I didn’t feel it at all.”
The damage had been done, however, and it was as if all the good karma had evaporated. “Probably made all my putts yesterday,” Oosthuizen said, a reference to the seven in a row he made in Round 3 when he fired 63 on a day when the field average was 70.555.
But once that streak ended, the South African made just four over his next 26 holes, and that wasn’t enough against a force such as McIlroy.
Still, Oosthuizen clearly has stepped up in recent weeks, having moved to a career-high 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
How solidly has the 29-year-old been playing? In his six tournaments since missing the cut at the U.S. Open, Oosthuizen in 24 rounds has been in the 60s 14 times and shot par or better 21. He’s a sturdy 38 under in that stretch, and he is the best to par (24 under) thus far in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Nice stuff, and all of it done in a “proper” manner.
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MOVING IN, GETTING OUT: Nine players started last week outside the top 70 but played their way into this week’s BMW Championship field: Charl Schwartzel, D.A. Points, Matt Every, Troy Matteson, Chris Kirk, Jeff Overton, Charley Hoffman, Bryce Molder and Dicky Pride.
To make room, of course, nine players fell out and are done for the playoffs: John Rollins, Ken Duke, Scott Stallings, Harris English, Josh Teater, Spencer Levin, Charles Howell III, Jonathan Byrd and Brian Davis.
Duke has the dubious distinction of being the highest-ranked player (42nd) in the FEC standings at the end of the regular season who was eliminated.
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BIGGEST IMPROVEMENTS: Of those who have made it to the BMW Championship, David Hearn (108th) began in the lowest spot in the FEC standings at the end of the regular season. He’s now 58th, a jump of 50 positions in two weeks.
Tom Gillis (92nd to 42nd) also has improved 50 spots, but the biggest jump belongs to Bryce Molder, at 51 (96th to 45th)
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CURIOUS PLAYOFF FACT: Charlie Wi and Ben Crane missed the cut at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship, yet both are still alive in the playoffs.
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HE’LL CHEER FROM AFAR: Jason Dufner has a very lucrative, though busy, fall schedule. After this week’s BMW Championship, he’ll tee it up in the Tour Championship, then in the Ryder Cup.
What comes next will require him to keep the passport handy: the Perth International (Oct. 18-21) in Australia, the CIMB Asia Pacific (Oct. 25-28) in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions (Nov. 1-4) in China. Not quite ready to put the clubs away, Dufner also will play in the Tiger Woods World Challenge (Nov. 29-Dec. 2) and the Shark Shootout (Dec. 6-9) before kicking back to rest.
The only thing is, Dufner, an Auburn alumnus, was asked about all the prime college football games he’s going to miss, which he acknowledged is a sore spot. “But it’s definitely a nice perk,” he said. “It’s what everyone is shooting for (to be able to play in these tournaments).”
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BIG EASY, INDEED: With a second Claret Jug and a fourth major comes the luxury of a different game plan, all in pursuit of more big-time success.
Ernie Els, annually one of the premier globe-trotters in this pro golf business, has his focus on next year’s major championships. To prepare effectively, he has committed to staying home. He said he will play the Frys.com (Oct. 11-14), the Grand Slam of Golf (Oct. 23-24) and possibly Tiger Woods’ World Challenge (Nov. 29-Dec. 2), but trips to the Middle East and Asia are not on the dance card.
“I’ve got to be ready (for the 2013 majors),” said Els, who will be 43 on Oct. 17. “My left side is a bit sore. I need to work on that. So I need to get that stronger and my body stronger, so it’ll be great for me to stay home for five, six weeks.”
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WOULD YOU RATHER POINTS OR MONEY? The field at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., will compete for $8 million in this week’s BMW Championship, plus the chance to take it a step further and play for another $8 million at the Tour Championship in two weeks. Clearly, that makes it worth being involved, but you can only be there if you’re top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings.
No one asks where you stand on the money list, which is a good thing because there are nine eligible players in the BMW field who sit outside the top 70 on the money list. Bob Estes is the poster boy for being at the right place at the right time because he’s 62nd in FEC points, though 96th in money.
The others who sit inside the top 70 in FEC points but outside the top 70 in money are David Hearn (58th, 93rd), Graham DeLaet (60th, 87th), Chris Kirk (66th, 88th), Tom Gillis (42nd, 86th), Pat Perez (55th, 84th), Bryce Molder (45th, 82nd), Greg Chalmers (36th, 80th), Brian Harman, (51st, 76th), Charl Schwartzel (68th, 75th), Troy Matteson (59th, 74th) and Vijay Singh (49th, 73rd).
On the flip side, 11 players who sit inside the top 70 in money are outside the top 70 in FEC points and thus done till the Fall Series: John Rollins, Ken Duke, Ted Potter Jr., J.J. Henry, Spencer Levin, Brian Davis, Michael Thompson, David Toms, Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Tringale and Sang-Moon Bae.
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GOING BACK TO SCHOOL: At his annual dinner that he co-hosts with Brad Faxon during the Deutsche Bank Championship, Seth Waugh was presented with a few gifts in honor of the 10th anniversary of the tournament.
One of the more lighthearted ones was a tweed jacket, given to Waugh by PGA Tour player Brett Quigley. Waugh figured it was fitting, because as part of his decision to step down from his job as CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas and spend more time with his wife Sheila and son Clancy, Waugh will be teaching a class in economics at The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, Fla.
“I’ve made my call; we’ll see how it works,” said Waugh, whose decision is one to be admired. His job has required much travel over the years, and this will enable him to be close to home as his son goes through his senior year at Benjamin before heading to Wake Forest.
In addition, Waugh will serve as a volunteer assistant golf coach at the school. When asked what that job would entail, he laughed.
“I’m pretty good with bottles of water,” he said. “I’ll keep them loose and happy.”
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ELITE COMPANY: If you don’t factor in the victories by Olin Browne in 2005 and Charley Hoffman in 2010, both of whom were ranked outside the top 125, the average world ranking for the Deutsche Bank Championship winner is 7.625.
Rory McIlroy became the second No. 1 to win the DBC (Tiger Woods being the other, in 2006) and another winner (Vijay Singh, in 2004) went to No. 1 with his victory. Phil Mickelson was ranked third when he won in 2007, Steve Stricker fourth when he triumphed in 2009 and Singh fifth when he captured a second title in 2008.
The other winners were Adam Scott in 2003, when he was 18th, and Webb Simpson in 2011, then ranked 27th.
While McIlroy became the first No. 1 to win a FEC playoff since Woods captured the BMW in 2009, players ranked inside the top 45 in the world have won 20 of the 22 playoff events since the playoffs debuted in 2007.
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MONEY TALK: To put into perspective how incredible Tiger Woods’ career total of $100,350,700 in prize money rates, consider that Phil Mickelson is third at $66,773,498.
Now let’s say Woods announces that he’s done playing right now and we work off of the figure of $4,305,992, which is what Mickelson has averaged for the past three seasons. It would take the left-hander eight full seasons of making that much per campaign just to reach Woods’ sum.