FedEx Cup still growing on us

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

By now, all male golf fans should have sprouted their playoff beards in anticipation of the FedEx Cup playoffs that get underway this week at The Barclays.

The scruff look is always a good indicator of playoff passion among Canadians, a fever that will, of course, not be interrupted when the tour's post-season takes a three-week break to accommodate the Ryder Cup before changing gears back to the grand playoff finale at The Tour Championship.

What has traditionally separated golf from other sports is its focus on major championships as opposed to playoffs, but the last of this season's majors concluded over a week ago, so for now, the greatest thing ever to hit golf is this manufactured post-season.

Last season's inaugural post-season seems like a blur with the predictable ending of Tiger Woods winning. The only other positive, significant story to develop was provided by Canadian Tour graduate Steve Stricker with his delightful and unexpected standout performance.

For better or worse, the second installment of golf's post-season begins this week with little change from a fan perspective. While familiarity may not breed contempt in 2008, it certainly breeds apathy for fans in this country, who hardly make the FedEx Cup water cooler conversation.

Uninspired by the whole deal, fans will tune in as they usually do when the tour's best players get together, but the feeling from here is that fans are hardly perceiving these tournaments as playoffs, even though they and players understand it a little better this year.

"We just weren't sure what was going on," said tour veteran Billy Mayfair recently.

"I mean, we had never done it. We all read it on paper, but we didn't know how to quite approach it, you know what I'm saying? So, I think we have a better idea this year," he said, adding that it's difficult to turn on a dime after a lifetime in one mindset.

"I think the money list is obviously something we all look at -- we were born that way," he said. "I mean, I've been out here 19 years. Every year, it was the money list."

These days, the tour has made it imperative for even the old school players to keep up with the times, according to Mayfair, who has won five times, including the 1995 Tour Championship.

"The FedEx Cup means to get into certain tournaments, the top 30 to get in the Masters, to get into the invitationals next year, that all goes by FedEx Cup points now," Mayfair said.

It's the attitude of the marquee guys that will decide whether this thing works or not. Everyone knows from the outset that they are sure to make the playoffs and that only one will emerge victorious.

The fact that they win is not as important as showing they want to win. The star players and the PGA Tour have to prove that they're scruff-worthy before these playoffs are accepted.

AMATEURS ARE IN

Mississauga's Graham Baillargeon and Mathieu Rivard of Granby, Que., have been given sponsor's exemptions for this week's Canadian Tour stop, the Jane Rogers Championship at Lakeview Golf Course in Mississauga.

"We believe that our event has an obligation to help amateur golfers, especially local amateurs develop their professional golf experience through competition against world class fields such as what we offer through our championship," said tournament chairman Elliott Kerr of the Landmark Sport Group.

The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday with all proceeds going to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and the Trillium Health Centre Oncology Clinic.


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