The 2008 Ryder Cup has come and gone, and it was nice to see a competitive event this time around. The United States seemed almost destined to win this year, and after playing great all weekend, they brought the Cup back to America. Both teams and captains deserve a lot of credit for making this year's Ryder Cup one of the most entertaining in recent history.
There have been a million articles about the Ryder Cup, and rightfully so. That being said, it's time to get back to reality, and that is the Tour Championship. It has been one of the best events in golf since its inception, and this year's playing should be no different. It's the last event in the FedExCup Playoffs, the field is strong, and the course is always challenging. Here are a few things worth mentioning before kicking things off at East Lake.
Singhing his Praises
Vijay Singh comes into the Tour Championship with one thing in mind: just finish the event and win the FedExCup! When the system was announced a few years back, Singh's name was the first to come to mind when thinking of potential winners. He works as hard as anyone in the game, and he usually plays more tournaments than the other big names in the sport. While he didn't win last year's inaugural FedExCup, he has his grasp on the 2008 trophy.
Singh's season was a little shaky by his standards until the last couple months. Since August 1st, the Fijian has won three prestigious tournaments: the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank Championship. Two of those were playoff events, and that's the main reason he is at the top right now. It's also worth noting Singh has climbed back up to third in the world rankings.
I've heard a lot of things about the FedExCup points system being too volatile, and while that may be true to an extent, that shouldn't take away from Singh's accomplishments over the past two months. Any time the third-ranked golfer in the world wins the Cup, it isn't a bad thing at all. Things will undoubtedly be tweaked again in the offseason, but give credit where it's due. Vijay Singh deserves all the rewards that are coming his way.
Battle for Number Two
Since Vijay Singh has things pretty much wrapped up when it comes to first, the focus needs to be shifted towards second. There have been a handful of guys consistently contending in this year's FedExCup Playoffs, and some of these golfers will once again be players to watch this week at East Lake. The three that come to mind are Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, and Jim Furyk.
Camilo Villegas finally had his breakthrough victory at the BMW Championship a few weeks ago. His win has been overshadowed a little by all the Ryder Cup hype, but it was impressive nonetheless. The fiery Colombian had come close so many times, and he held off a great field to win his first-career PGA Tour event. As for the future, the sky is definitely the limit.
Villegas also finished in a tie for third at the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship. He has moved up to 17th in the world rankings, and there are going to be a lot more victories in his future. The second could very well come this week at the Tour Championship. He has had a couple weeks to let his win sink in, and he will be ready to get back out on the golf course.
The second name on the list is Anthony Kim. There isn't much to say about him that hasn't already been said. Like Villegas, the sky is the limit with this young gun. He brought a much-needed fiery spirit to last week's Ryder Cup and compiled a 2-1-1 record in the process. That record included a dominant win over Sergio Garcia in Sunday singles.
Kim's performance in this year's FedExCup Playoffs has been solid as well. He finished in a tie for 12th at the Barclays, and he finished in a tie for third at the BMW Championship. He was in the final group with Villegas and had a definite shot to win heading into the final day. Kim has moved up to 10th in the world rankings and will be a force this week.
The final guy on the list is Jim Furyk, and he is my pick to win this week at East Lake. He has been very consistent in this year's playoffs and is coming off a great experience at Valhalla last weekend. His first three playoff events resulted in a tie for 12th (Barclays), seventh (Deutsche Bank), and third (BMW Championship). As for the Ryder Cup, he went 2-1-1 and clinched the win with his singles victory over Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Furyk hasn't won a PGA Tour event in 2008, but his game has slowly been coming around. The great putting that has helped Furyk become one of the world's best in recent years has been a little shaky this season, but he seemed to figure things out a little last week. His ball striking has been very strong, and now that his putting stroke has seemingly returned, he will be very tough to beat. Show this man the winner's circle!
Stay at Home
While the golfers mentioned above come in playing well, there are those that should take this week off and stay at home. The first on the list is Phil Mickelson. To his credit, he does have a couple top-20 playoff finishes sandwiched around a tie for 73rd at the Deutsche Bank Championship. For a player of his caliber, however, that's not good enough.
Lefty's lackluster 1-2-2 record at Valhalla doesn't help things either. If it wasn't for solid play by his partners, that record might have been even worse. He had his moments at this year's Ryder Cup, but for the most part, it was the same uninspired effort he usually gives this time of year. I'll give him credit for playing in all four playoff events this season, but it's obvious the post-PGA Championship blues have definitely set in for Mickelson.
The next guy that should stay at home is Sergio Garcia. He was my pick to win this year's FedExCup, and he is currently in third in the standings. The Spaniard has been one of the bright spots in these playoffs, and while it may sound crazy to count him out this week, his mind probably won't be in the right place.
Garcia struggled badly at this year's Ryder Cup, and that's one of the events he gears up for the most every time it's played. His 0-2-2 record was by far his worst since debuting in the event in 1999. The fifth-ranked golfer in the world racked up a disappointing one point for his team, and that won't sit well with him. He wasn't himself last week at Valhalla, and regardless of the reason, he will have a Ryder Cup hangover this week in Atlanta.
The last guy worth mentioning in this section is Kenny Perry. The Kentucky native's goal all season was to make the Ryder Cup team, and he definitely gave his home state fans something to cheer about last week at Valhalla. His 2-1-1 record helped lead his team to victory, but he looked completely drained after the event was over.
Perry's recent play in this year's playoffs haven't been very good either. In fact, his performance has been pretty bad. So far, his finishes in the playoffs consist of a tie for 48th, 80th, and 44th. That's not exactly setting the golf course on fire, and it will be much of the same this week at East Lake. After achieving his season-long goal, his mind is officially on cruise control.
The Final Say
The Tour Championship may be getting overlooked a little, but it's still one of the premiere events in golf. And while fans still have the Fall Series to look forward to (or not), the Tour Championship is the end of the road as far as the 2008 FedExCup is concerned. Even without guys like Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington, the field is still very strong. The golf course always challenges the world's best as well, and fans can't ask for anymore than that.
It's your turn to speak your opinion on this week's article. Which golfer will finish second behind Vijay this year? Also, which guys will struggle this week at East Lake? If you have anything to add, please comment below or discuss them in the forum. Thanks for reading this week's article, and enjoy the Tour Championship!
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