Without the staggered start of the leaderboard, Kevin Na and Jon Rahm actually beat Patrick Cantlay this past weekend at East Lake. But due to the wonderful season Cantlay had, especially the last few weeks, he was crowned the Tour Championship winner and FedEx Cup champ. Cantlay began the event as the leader at -10. Rahm started 4 back at -6 and Na began the event 8 shots back. Both Na and Rahm shot 266 for the 4 days but Patty Ice shot 269 to win by 1.
The format isn’t perfect but it’s the best it has been. The point is to ensure the winner of the Tour Championship also wins the FedEx Cup. Something that has occurred many times in the past. In 2011 Bill Haas won the Tour Championship. He asked who won the FedEx Cup in his post-round interview on the 18th green. He did. Didn’t even know it. Obviously down the stretch these guys are just trying to win the tournament, and now if you do, that takes care of everything. In 2009, Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship but Tiger Woods claimed his 2nd FedEx Cup. In 2018 Tiger was on the other side of this scenario. He returned to form to win the Tour Championship but Justin Rose won the Cup. The decision for the staggered leaderboard was put in place in 2019.
Cantlay won 4 times in 2020-2021. Nobody else won more than twice. No, PC didn’t win a major, but he won the ZoZo back in October, The Memorial in June, and the BMW last week in that thrilling 6-hole playoff with DeChambeau. That shot him to first place in the points and the right to start -10 before putting a tee in the ground at East Lake. He did miss 2 cuts at majors, The Masters and The Open, as well as the Players. But 4 wins, 7 top10’s, and a scoring average of 69.4 will get you in the player of the year conversation every time.
The Cantlay-Rahm story actually goes back a few months. Rahm was forced to withdraw from The Memorial before the final round because of testing positive for Covid. He had a 6-shot lead. Patrick Cantlay ended up winning the event. Had Rahm not have been forced to WD, and everything else takes place exactly as it had…Rahmbo would be your FedEx Cup champ and his pockets would be a tad heavier with $15 mil. But Cantlay did we had to do and took advantage of a horrible situation for someone else. He then peaked at the right time and played the best golf of his career when it mattered most. Patty Ice now has 15 million reasons why the new format works. For his career, Cantlay has $14.3 million in earnings. He won more than that on Sunday alone.
My dream scenario is where the field of 30 play 3 rounds of stroke play and the top 4 battle it out on Sunday for the top prize. But the kicker here is to make sure the players who have had the best season are there at the end. That is the whole point. It’s a season-long race. Like Justin Thomas said last week; you can’t miss 13 cuts during the regular season, sneak into the playoffs by the skin of your teeth, win a playoff event and then the FedEx Cup.
Writer’s note In last week’s blog I made my 6 Captain’s picks for the US Ryder Cup team. Kevin Na was on my outside looking in, but just by a hair. Get Na on that team! Beside Rahm, Kevin was the best player in the field in Atlanta. He makes a ton of birdies and plays with an aggressive style and swagger. Everyone on tour loves him and he would be an asset to the team. Nobody would be more grateful or excited to get that call from Capt Stricker than Kevin Na. Plus, I’d love to see him walking in putts all over his European opponents. So who’s out on my list to make way for Na you ask? Well it could be Brooks Koepka after WD’ing in the middle of the 3rd round after injuring his wrist on a tree root. But he has 3 weeks to recover and get better. I replace Webb Simpson with Na. Webb didn’t make the Tour Championship and the other guys are just playing too good.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional