Commentary

Five things we learned during the FedEx Cup

Updated: September 18, 2007, 9:13 AM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- Americans love lists. (As do Canadians, or so we've heard.)

We're not quite sure how much anyone loves the FedEx Cup, though. A recent ESPN.com poll showed that more than one-third of fans think the concept should be done away with in future years.

Don't hold your breath.

The FedEx Cup is here to stay, but before we look ahead to future editions and what changes may or may not take place, let's look back at five things we learned during the inaugural postseason.

1. A change for the better. Say what you will about the FedEx Cup being beaten over our heads and rammed down our throats by the PGA Tour's incessant season-long marketing campaign, but facts are facts, and it's indisputable that the new end-of-year format brought more attention to golf than previously existed this time of year.

"I think it's been successful, maybe not to the degree that everybody wants it to be the first year, but I think it will get to that point," Phil Mickelson said. "I think it's starting out with a nice start this first year, and I think it's going to get better and better each year. The reason that I think it's been successful is that we've had incredible attendance by all the players -- I mean, like a 98 percent attendance rate."

The problem comes next year, when top players are expected to play seven of eight weeks, included five in a row to end the season, with no bye week between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup. Will the attendance rate continue?

2. Tweaking is imminent. Unless the PGA Tour starts awarding more points for second place than for first, Tiger Woods may never lose one of these things. No doubt he was the right man to be clutching the trophy when the Tour Championship ended on Sunday, but how 'bout this fact: If Woods never showed up at East Lake, he still would have won the Cup.

Tiger Woods
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesWoods had two first-place finishes and a runner-up in three FedEx Cup starts.
Obviously, that's not the type of drama we've been expecting from this system. One suggestion: Weight the final event double or triple that of the first three, so that the eventual winner would seemingly need a strong finish at the end.

3. A course is a course. Of course, of course, and no one knows how a course will play outside of its intended season ... until now. Three of the four FedEx Cup venues were at least two months removed from their previous place in the schedule. The result was some uncharacteristically low scores on some venerable old-style courses.

Then again, perhaps this year was an aberration. "This week is an oddity," Woods said at East Lake, where he won by shooting 64-63-64-66. "Normally it's not like this, and I think after the renovations at Cog Hill I don't think we'll sniff at 20 [under] again."

4. Golf is tiring. Who knew? One by one, players walked off the course on Sunday afternoon, most of whom had just finished competing four weeks in a row, and discussed how mentally and physically taxing 16 rounds of top-level golf in 25 days really was.

"I was starting to feel a little physically tired the last few days," Steve Stricker said. "But it's just a mental grind every day. You start watching the ball do some funny hops, then you start thinking the whole world is against you all of a sudden. I was getting at the end of my rope out here, too. It was becoming a long deal."

Read between the lines and you shouldn't be surprised to hear some players calling for a contraction to three postseason events in future years, contractual obligations notwithstanding.

5. Rory was right. Tiger is beatable ... once out of every, oh, five tournaments or so. Though he admitted afterward that winning the Tour Championship meant more than winning the FedEx Cup, and despite not puckering up to the trophy after the tour's "Never Been Kissed" ad campaign, the lasting image of golf's first-ever playoff format was Woods' pure, utter domination at the final two events.

Woods completed victories at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in a combined 45-under par, winning by a total of 10 strokes. When they talk about the inaugural FedEx Cup 50 years from now -- well, if they talk about the inaugural FedEx Cup 50 years from now -- all conversation will revolve around Woods' performance rather than the consternation around the format.

Then again, if Woods' quotes are preserved for all time, folks in the future may never understand. After all, his first public comments after claiming the Cup?

"I hit it good this week. Made a couple of putts, too."

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.