The first FedEx Cup playoff series is finally over. Four weeks plus spills and chills plus a triple helping of Tiger Woods add up to success. Let’s celebrate the highlights, low lights and Miller Lites with the first Feddy Awards. (And before we go any further, I’d like to thank all of the little people who made this possible.)
Most Valuable Legend (MVL): You might as well call it the Tiger Woods Cup. It was his stage, once he finally stepped onto it. He was second in Boston and won at Cog Hill and East Lake. A one-man highlight reel, he closed with a 63 at the BMW and shot 28 on the front nine Friday at the Tour Championship, where he routed the game’s 30 best players and won by eight strokes. Like 2001, it was all Tiger all the time, and his swing has never looked better. Guess who I’m picking to win the ’08 Masters? And, oh yeah, the other three majors, too?
Mind If I Play Through Award: Woods was more than 285 yards away from the ninth green in Sunday’s final round at the Tour Championship when he launched a 3-wood shot from an unpromising lie in the rough. Incredibly, the ball carried to the green, bounced and rolled across it while Sergio Garcia and Zach Johnson were putting. Woods hustled to the green to apologize. What did he say? “Sorry, I’m just that good,” joked a studio host on ESPN News.
Jed Clampett Award: The richest man in golf is Woods. He won seven times in 16 appearances and cleared $10 million for the year. At the Tour Championship, he snagged $1.26 million for the tournament victory and the famously deferred $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup title. Maybe now he’ll start leaving decent tips.
Turnberry Trophy: OK, so it wasn’t Nicklaus and Watson at the 1977 British Open, but Phil Mickelson going head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the Deutsche Bank Championship’s final round was the best show of the year. It had a little of everything, including a classic Phil moment on Sunday when he made an ugly double bogey at the 12th hole that wiped out most of his lead. Still, he held on to win, and the air was electric thanks to a raucous gallery that clearly favored Phil. Great theater, great golf.
Howard Dean Buzzkill Trophy: The hands-down winner was Mickelson. He’d just knocked off the king, Tiger Woods, in the duel of the year at TPC Boston when he joined NBC’s Jimmy Roberts for an interview. Mickelson cryptically complained about PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem ignoring his suggestions and added that he wouldn’t feel bad if he missed the next playoff event. He skipped the BMW, and his ill-timed comments caused enough deflation to scare the Federal Reserve Bank.
Cher Award for Best Comeback by a Comeback Player of the Year: Steve Stricker birdied four of the last five holes at Westchester to pass K.J. Choi and win the Barclays in a thrilling finish. Stricker’s comeback was all the more noteworthy after his final-round failings at the U.S. Open and British Open this summer.
Bumper Car Cup: This goes to four players who played their way into the top 30 on the money list before the Tour Championship but didn’t get to tee it up at East Lake because they were outside the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list. Luke Donald, who played at East Lake the last two years, was 31st in points despite winning $2.2 million to rank 25th on the money list. David Toms, who hadn’t missed a Tour Championship since 1999, missed the points cut despite being 26th on the money list and having seven top-10 finishes. He withdrew from the Boston event with a back injury. Jerry Kelly and Henrik Stenson also ranked among the top 30 in money but not in points.
Memorex Trophy: Is it live? Or is it taped? With the Golf Channel, it was both, sort of. The New York Times blasted the Golf Channel for its Tour Championship coverage. The event was delayed by rain Thursday and the first round resumed Friday morning. The second round began after the first was completed in an attempt to beat bad weather that was forecast in Atlanta. When the Golf Channel came on the air at its previously scheduled afternoon time slot, it opted to show the first round on tape delay instead of live coverage of the second round. The Times claimed that the network went more than an hour without identifying its coverage as tape-delayed. When the Golf Channel finally did cut to the second round, that coverage was tape delayed as well.
Wilford Brimley Trophy: Hand it to Mark Calcavecchia, the oldest man in the Tour Championship field at 47. He was the only player in this field who also teed it up in the inaugural Tour Championship in 1987, and the only one who would be immediately eligible to collect his FedEx Cup deferred money if he retired (you must be at least 45 and no longer playing the minimum 15 tour events).
That Was the Week Award: Barring a lottery win, it would be tough to have a better week than Mickelson had in Boston. He arrived early and stopped off in Kennebunkport, Maine, for a round with George W. Bush. Then he went to Fenway Park and was in the stands when Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter. For the finale, he outplayed Tiger Woods in a showdown at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Pat Benatar Hit Me With Your Best Shot Award: The winner is Rich Beem, who went for Westchester Country Club’s par-5 18th green with his second shot during the Barclay’s final round, pulled it left and felled CBS announcer Ian Baker-Finch, who was waiting greenside to interview a tournament official. Baker-Finch was hit in the jaw and dropped to the ground. He was helped up, and after applying some ice he did the interview. Later, he said the impact had loosened one of his teeth. “CBS is going to want me for life — you destroyed one of our best guys,” Beem joked.
Jekyll-and-Hyde Cup: The marquee group at the Deutsche Bank Championship for the first two rounds was Mickelson, Woods and Vijay Singh. On Thursday, they accounted for three bogeys, three double bogeys and a triple bogey en route to a combined total of three over par. On Friday, the real superheroes showed up. The trio combined to shoot 19 under, including matching 64s by Woods and Mickelson.
Remember Who Runs This Tour Trophy: A long-forgotten promotional campaign from early this year pointed out that the FedEx Cup had never been kissed. At the FedEx Cup presentation, Commissioner Tim Finchem mentioned this fact again. Woods ignored the commissioner’s obvious hint and made a point of not kissing the Cup.
Sound of One Hand Clapping Award: It goes to Arron Oberholser, who’d been playing the whole summer with a fractured bone in his left hand. Incredibly, he still made a run at Woods and Mickelson in Boston and tied for second. After the first nine holes at the BMW, however, he could not continue and wisely retired from the FedEx Cup.
Vermont Frost Heaves Award (for worst greens): This isn’t the slam dunk you might think. Sure, East Lake’s greens were so bad that practice rounds were temporarily suspended and the pro-am was canceled, but they rose Lazarus-like for the competition and weren’t as horrible as expected. The greens at Westchester Country Club had brown spots and were a close second. Yes, two of the four FedEx Cup sites had poor greens. For players, that’s nearly as big an issue as the deferred money controversy.
Spinal Tap Award (for anyone displaying unusual backbone): Pass the trophy to Jeff Maggert, normally a relatively quiet man, who disagreed with Woods’s decision to skip the Barclays event. “If you’re pulling out of a tournament,” Maggert said, “you’re pulling out of the playoffs.” Honorable mention goes to Rory Sabbatini, who suggested a rule requiring players to compete in all four events to be eligible for the FedEx Cup prize.
Reality Check Award: Woods skipped a week, giving everyone else a head start, and still won the FedEx Cup, which indicates that Sabbatini’s suggestion was unnecessary. Put this in your trophy case, Rory.
The Amnesia Cup: The lucky winner of this award is you because you’ve already forgotten that Woods skipped the Barclays at Westchester. Has any would-be controversy ever been less relevant?