Fred Couples won his first career Champions Tour major title.
Stan Badz/Getty Images
By Alan Shipnuck
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HOT
1. Long wands. Is there anybody on Tour not using a belly putter or broomstick? They're not aesthetically pleasing but apparently they work.

2. "The Big Break." And you thought it was just a cheesy Golf Channel show. Well, it is that, but with the sudden success of Tommy Gainey and Ryann O'Toole and James Nitties, "BB" has become golf's "American Idol," launching the unlikely careers of would-be stars.

3. Freddie. He's still the coolest cat in the game.

4. Suzann Pettersen. One of golf's most flammable players has suddenly won two tourneys in a row with crazy-low Sundays. Don't be surprised if Pettersen wins a handful more tourneys in the coming months.

5. Plainfield Country Club. The host of this week's Barclays is one of the Northeast's overlooked gems. I love the way this tourney rotates among the many strong courses around New York City. Next stop: Bethpage Black.

NOT
1. The USGA. Every year golf's ruling body has to play its championships on longer and longer courses, and yet the blue coats still refuse to acknowledge that their lack of oversight has allowed elite players to hit the ball absurd distances. It would be ironic if it wasn't so pathetic.

2. The U.S. Solheim Cup points system. I'm Christina Kim's biggest fan, and expect her to continue her fine play in the Cup, but how can she qualify on points when she's finished in the top 30 only twice this season?

3. Na Yeon Choi. I love her game, and her spunk, but NYC gave away the Safeway Classic by bogeying the final hole to cap a 73 and then laying the sod over a wedge in sudden death, leading to a watery end. Doesn't get much more brutal than that.

4. John Cook. He's spent a lot of his career in Couples's shadow. With a prime chance to stick it to his old rival, Cook instead bogeyed three of his final eight holes at Senior Players and then couldn't get it done in the ensuing playoff.

5. FedEx Cup hype. I actually enjoy the so-called playoffs, which offer big-time golf and a host of compelling storylines. But I'm already burnt-out on the endless discussion of the arcane points system and the relentless promotion of the Cup ... and it hasn't even started yet!

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