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PGA Tour Confidential: Tour Championship

Phil Mickelson, Tour Championship
Fred Vuich/SI
Phil Mickelson won his third event of the season on Sunday.

Every week of the 2009 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Welcome, gents, to Sunday Evening Quarterback, er, PGA Tour Confidential. Anyone know what happened at the Tour Championship today? I was too busy watching football. Kidding. We'll get to the FedEx Cup madness soon enough, but Phil Mickelson came through with a superb victory today, so let's start there. Given what he and his family have been through this summer, I think this is one of Phil's greatest moments. Thoughts?

David Dusek, deputy editor, A fantastic win for Mickelson to be sure, and a reason for his fans to be optimistic for 2010. The off-season is long, but if Phil can putt anything like he did at East Lake, he'll once again contend week-in and week-out.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Has to be one of his best moments as a pro, considering what he's been through. My question is, does Phil get the headline or does Tiger's $10 mil get the bold type?

Jim Herre, editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: Phil gets the main head; Tiger the deck.

Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It was great to see Phil after his 66 on Saturday, burbling about his play, particularly his putting. Hope his radiant appearance means that everything is going well on the home front, too.

Hack: Say what you will about the quirky format — I don't like the math — but Finchem and the Tour brass got Tiger and Phil playing into the third week of NFL season. That's no small thing.

Shipnuck: During the previous so-called playoff events Phil didn't have much fire, and I kept wondering why he was slogging through so many tournaments. Now we know. What a lift this must've given Amy and Phil's mom and those close to them, to say nothing of Phil's army of fans.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Very happy for Phil, who hadn't done anything of note in so long it was tempting to wonder if he was done. Wonderful final round and intriguing as to what it may portend for 2010.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It's perhaps overstating it a little to say that it's one of his greatest moments. But I agree that he proved today that his game has survived through all of the off-course issues.

Shipnuck: I just wish Phil had fixed his putting Monday morning at Bethpage, not this week.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: It made me realize how much I missed him out there. Even if he didn't win, having him in the field, firing at pins and draining long putts adds so much to the mix.

Shipnuck: OK, to the FedEx Cup. Tiger did just enough today to wrap-up the $10 million, but it was in doubt for much of the final round, and I found it morbidly fascinating to watch as the projected winner kept changing almost hole-by-hole. Now that the third incarnation is in the books, what's the verdict?

Dusek: Once again, Tiger didn't kiss the FedEx Cup when Tim Finchem handed it to him.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: How popular is the FedEx Cup? On Saturday afternoon in the Westchester grill room, football was on the main TV while the golf was on the secondary TV. I spoke to a few people and nobody was too interested in the FedEx.

Dusek: I'll say this, FedEx Cup 3.0 was better than the previous two. But even Mickelson couldn't help making a joke after his round. "Let me get this straight, I'm the guy who shot 65 on Sunday and won the Tour Championship, and Tiger's the guy who gets the $10 million check? Just kidding."

Herre: 100% better than the first two years, but if they must take a week off, do it after the Labor Day event.

Evans: As long as someone will pay for a playoff, I think we should have one. But it will never be perfect unless there is match play component. What real pressure did Tiger have coming into this playoff? It's a joke to call it a playoff. In the NFL, you can go 16-0 in the regular season and lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Dusek: Sign of the Apocalypse: I agree with Farrell.

Gorant: I also thought this was the best incarnation — the season mattered, lots of good stories, long shots, favorites in the mix — but the points thing is still weird. It would be vastly better if you could just look at the scores and know who had to do what to win it.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I agree with Jim that the points system is still bewildering; I didn't even try to figure out what was going on today, even when they posted the "what if" scenarios on the screen. But I'm beginning to like those "projected finish" charts. They give the playoffs the trappings of election night, which is a hallowed fall tradition.

Herre: Good point, John. I was also getting into the habit of always checking the projected finish box. Makes the playoffs easier to understand and more fun.

Lipsey: Even with a perfect points system, fans won't care much for the playoffs. They'll like to watch Tiger and Phil, but they won't care much who wins the Cup.

Shipnuck: The points race saved Sunday at the BMW, when Tiger was up a million but everyone was grinding to get in the top 30. And it was a good subplot to today's runaway victory by Phil.

Evans: It seems anti-climatic and a waste for Tiger to claim $10 million and another Player of the Year trophy when he went 0-4 in the majors.

Morfit: Giving Tiger an extra 10 mil is like giving a free membership to George Clooney.

Garrity: That's true, but the 10 mil seemed to make some of the contenders' hands shake and legs wobble coming down the stretch. So it was money well spent.

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