One may easily be misled to believe that the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship — or more notably, the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup — but here’s a little-known secret: It’s one of the most lax events of the year and it really only gets somewhat suspenseful on the back nine on Sunday. Otherwise, it starts out mind-numbingly low and kind of feels like an exhibition with only 30 players (or 28 this year due to Jim Furyk and Louis Oosthuizen withdrawing due to injuries) in the field.
Yes, $10 million is a lot of money, but let me break it down for you. We can generally split the field into two categories: Either you’re like Rory McIlroy and you wouldn’t even notice the extra cash in your banking account, or you’re just pumped to have made it to the Tour Championship because not only do you get a guaranteed paycheck/bonus, but more importantly, you also earn all the other perks that come along with it, like securing spots in the majors and most of the WGCs for the following season.
That’s huge for the non-superstars/guys ranked outside the top 50, and essentially sets up players for success (or at least gives them a head start) since they can plan their schedules in advance and play in the best events with the strongest fields (which is underrated because it’s much easier to plan ahead and come up with a game plan, rather than often being forced to play it by ear because for many of the second-tier or journeymen pros, they won’t know if they’re in an event until the last minute sometimes, etc.), not to mention with the WGCs, there are smaller fields, no cuts and a guaranteed paycheck.
Basically, qualifying for the Tour Championship if you’re not named Rory, Jordan or Jason, among others, is potentially a huge game-changer. Life is good and you’re feeling pretty relaxed. I’m not saying guys are just mailing it in, but a few years ago, I witnessed a big-name player, who was not in contention during the third round, giving college football updates from his phone as he strolled up a fairway. In other words, he seemed more concerned about how his bets were doing than the next shot he was hitting. I mean, I completely get it — there’s a guaranteed paycheck, with last place taking home just over 133,000, which isn’t exactly a bad payday for finishing DFL after a four day stroll around East Lake.
The Tour season is also damn long and by the end of August (or after the PGA Championship), just about everybody is ready for a break, especially the golfers. OK, I have digressed from the point a bit, but just thought I’d give a little insider background info from what I’ve experienced and learned in the last five years.
With shorter work days due to the limited field and fatigue/boredom, Rickie Fowler and Danny Lee, who is the sneakiest funny guy you don’t know about on Tour, decided to get creative and spice things up a little bit. The two have engaged in a full-on prank war and it’s pretty entertaining (maybe it’s not, but expectations aren’t what I’d call high), with Fowler striking the first blow.
On Thursday, Fowler, with a sharpie marker in hand, left Lee a little note on the sign denoting his reserved parking spot, scrawling “#FindDannyAGirl and even autographed it.
— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) September 25, 2015
What does that mean? Well, it goes back to a few months ago after Lee captured his maiden Tour victory at the Greenbrier Classic. In his post-interview press conference, Lee joked about always being bored in his lonely hotel room because he didn’t have a girlfriend, so that prompted Pat Perez to start a Twitter campaign with the aforementioned handle. Fowler also tweeted that he was on board for the project. Well, Fowler didn’t stop with marking up the sign. He took it a step further and gathered some construction cones and strung them together with what appears to be tape to block off Lee’s parking spot.
— Danny Lee (@dannygolf72) September 25, 2015
Lee took the night to plot his revenge on Fowler and he struck back on Friday morning, using cones and tape to make a tangled mess around Fowler’s Mercedes.
The PGA Tour caught up with Fowler, who issued a warning to Lee that he should expect retaliation. In other words, this prank war is far from over.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 25, 2015
But it appears that Lee has taken preemptive measures to strike before Fowler gets him again.
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) September 25, 2015
You’re up, Rickie. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next, but I think the cones and tape hoax is played out by now. Let’s get even more creative…