Geoff Ogilvy, winner of a U.S. Open and three World Golf Championships, failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs just as his exemption from his eighth and most recent PGA Tour victory ran out.
He thought about playing the Web.com Tour Finals and hasn’t entirely ruled it out, though he skipped the first event and is not entered in the second. Instead, he plans to take a one-time exemption for top 50 on the career money list at age 39.
Ogilvy is at No. 28 on the career money list, one spot behind Rory Sabbatini, who also has applied for the career money exemption. However, Sabbatini decided to play in the Web.com Tour Finals and made it pay off quickly. He tied for sixth in the opening event last week and now only needs to make the cut to secure his card.
The career money exemption typically is used late in a player’s career as he moves closer to age 50 and PGA Tour Champions eligibility. One notion was to avoid using the exemption too early. This didn’t make sense to Ogilvy.
“Guys will take it at the end of their careers as a bridge to the Champions Tour. That’s the traditional thought about it,” he said. “But at that point, I could play enough tournaments to amuse me at 48 while trying to bridge that gap. But if you’re just using it as a bridge, you’re not as competitive anymore. That’s what I thought about it. This is really what it’s for, to get you through a bad patch. What if I never need it again? Then you’re asking, ‘Why didn’t I take it?'”
If he gets his game turned around, Ogilvy could easily move back into the top 25 in career money and save that one-time exemption for another day.
The idea of playing four Web.com Tour Finals events appealed to him because he felt as though he was playing better over the last month. He had three top 25s in his last four events, the best three finishes of his season.
“I felt if I had three or four more weeks, I would have gotten there,” he said. “At first, I was thought I would go play the Web.com. But I feel like I want to play a full, regular, normal year. My golf needs one of those. With a Web card, you’re not getting in all the tournaments.”
He will start at the Safeway Open, though Ogilvy said he would not fall into the trap of feeling as though he has to play every week because of the one-time exemption.
Carl Pettersson also has filed for the Top 50 career money exemption.
DAY AND NIKE: Nike appears set to add another No. 1 golfer to its stable, this time strictly for the apparel.
ESPN is reporting that Jason Day will sign a deal with Nike to wear its clothes, hat and shoes starting next year. Nike announced last month it is getting out of the equipment business. ESPN cited sources as saying that Day would continue using TaylorMade equipment, but not the Adidas apparel or shoes.
Golfweek magazine said another Day sponsor, Concur, is expanding its deal in which the Australian would have the logo on his bag instead of the crest of his shirt.
Nike previously had Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods when they were No. 1, both full-line deals involving apparel and golf clubs.
RORY NOT REWARDED: Rory McIlroy became a footnote in FedEx Cup history as the only player to win a playoff event and still not be among the top five seeds going into the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Part of the reason is McIlroy made only two birdies on Sunday at the BMW Championship for a 72 and tied for 42nd.
A larger part was Paul Casey.
Casey began the playoffs at No. 68, while McIlroy was at No. 36. They both tied for 31st at The Barclays. But while McIlroy earned 2,000 points for winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, Casey picked up 2,400 points for his two runner-up finishes at the TPC Boston and Crooked Stick. That was enough to move him ahead of McIlroy by 27 points and into the No. 5 seed.
McIlroy would have needed to be two shots better at Crooked Stick to secure the No. 5 seed.
Because the points are reset, the top five seeds only have to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. McIlroy, or even Jordan Spieth behind him at No. 7, could still win the FedEx Cup without winning at East Lake, depending on what the players do ahead of him.
THE EXCEPTION: Along with a shot at $10 million for winning the FedEx Cup, the greatest perk about the Tour Championship is getting into the majors.
This year was a reminder that it doesn’t get a player into all of them.
The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open all list the Tour Championship field as criteria for being exempt into their championships. The PGA Championship is the exception. Its qualifications are based on results of the previous PGA Championship, major champions over the last five years, PGA Tour winners in the previous 12 months and then a PGA Tour money list from a 12-month period leading to the final major of the year.
Anyone who gets to the Tour Championship usually has won enough money, or is among the top 100 in the world ranking, so it’s usually not an issue.
But it was this year.
Steven Bowditch was at East Lake last year. He finished 12th in the Tour Championship and was No. 58 in the world. But the Australian lost weight through a fitness plan, which affected his swing, and he went into a deep slump. He played the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. He was No. 141 at the time of the PGA Championship and he was far outside the top 70 in PGA points and didn’t get in.
DIVOTS: The Ricoh Women’s British Open will return to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2018 for the fifth time. … Bo Van Pelt, who had a torn labrum in his left arm, picked the right time to realize he needed surgery. He was using a one-time career money exemption last year, but because he played only five events, Van Pelt is still playing out of that category when he returns. Van Pelt said he is about five months into his recovery from surgery, in which he had his bicep reattached, and hopes to return early next year. … Seven members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team are playing the Italian Open this week. The exceptions are Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Thomas Pieters. … Phil Mickelson was leading the Vardon Trophy two weeks ago. Now he’s at No. 5 with one week remaining. … Dustin Johnson was 15 under on the par 5s at the BMW Championship, the second-best performance this year on the PGA Tour behind Jordan Spieth (16 under) at Kapalua.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Paul Casey made $1,836,000 by finishing second the last two weeks, $25,857 less than what Arnold Palmer earned in his PGA Tour career.
FINAL WORD, PART I: “We have an actual game plan. We know who’s going to be playing with who, when they’re going to be playing, what matches. We have time now to work together and create that partnership.” – Ryder Cup task force member Phil Mickelson on Sunday.
FINAL WORD, PART II: “I need to sit down with these guys and talk to them about, ‘Who do you think you would want to play with? Who do you think you would want to practice with?’ So all those things we’ve got to talk about and that’s going to help us decide who the twelfth guy is.” – Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III on Monday.