Monday, September 28, 2009

Consider This FedEx Cup a Success


There is one simple recipe for every PGA Tour golf tournament -- Tiger + Phil = Win. On Sunday, at East Lake, that recipe happened both literally and figuratively -- Tiger and Phil both won, and the network won and the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup and Tim Finchem and probably some Eskimo hanging out in his little ice hut in the northern expanses of Canada that loves golf.

Yep, call 2009 for the FedEx Cup. Yesterday, with three TVs hooked up in my apartment, hanging with my roommate, we decided to switch the big, HD television to golf for a decent amount of time in the later afternoon, deciding against the NFL or the Yankees-Red Sox game because golf was good television. In week three of the NFL season, you could argue it was the best TV.

People (myself included) worry about what the PGA Tour will do once Tiger and Phil decide to move on to other things. Sure, some young kid (Ryo Ishikawa and Rory McIlroy, for instance) will come along, flashy in their new digs and blow us all away, forgetting about a Woods and Mickelson, but for now, those two are the PGA Tour, and without them, they might as well save money on transporting the cameras from event to event.

At Augusta National this year, those two were paired together in the final round of the Masters, an hour before the leaders' names were even called and you would have forgot that anyone else was playing by the crowds and the attention that non-group got.

On Sunday, it was Phil and Tiger again, this time in different groups but as much in the mix as they could be. Tiger was struggling to keep his round in the red, but his bank account was about to get very much in the black with a $10 million bonus that comes with the FedEx Cup.

Phil on the other hand didn't ever have a realistic shot at the FedEx Cup (Tiger would have had to finish 8th), but his tournament was the actual one, and he was playing East Lake like it was a Saturday muni. The only bogey-free round on Sunday, Mickelson polished a beautiful 65 that was oh-so reminiscent of his 2000 final round at this same event on the same golf course. That year, Phil fired a 66 to beat Tiger by two. This time, it was a 65 to take down the biggest name in golf by three.

Maybe it wasn't so much a win for the FedEx Cup as it was a win for Tiger vs. Phil 6.0 (or 7.0, I could be losing count), but the golf world is still in need of these two, maybe more than ever. Next season, the PGA Tour will begin to feel the effects of an economy that hit the LPGA pretty hard this year. Finchem said the tour might lose tournaments next season, which probably should happen with sponsors pulling out.

That reality means the need for more Tiger and more Phil at more events. They need to show up and shake hands and smile for the cameras in the pro-am even if they'd rather be thousands of miles from Bill and Rich, the top employees at McGladrey & Pullen last year.

Those thoughts will be our offseason ... for now, we can all rejoice once more with Tiger and Phil, saving the FedEx Cup. It was good television, a good tournament and a battle until the final putt dropped. It's hard to imagine another name added to this mix to make it any better than the current outcome.

Scott Halleran, Getty Images