FedEx contenders hit straight, not long

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

To borrow a baseball phrase: "Chicks dig the long ball."

The FedEx Cup standings, apparently, do not.

It's interesting to look at the stats of the top-seeded players heading into this week's finale. What's more important? Hitting the ball far, or straight?

Tiger Woods sits atop the seedings and despite his reputation as a long-ball hitter, he ranks only 24th in driving distance (he is averaging 298.4 yards; Robert Garrigus leads the category at 312.2).

After that, you've got Steve Stricker (ranked 114th in driving distance), Jim Furyk (175th), Zach Johnson (157th), Heath Slocum (100th) and Padraig Harrington (112th), who all have the best odds of winning the FedEx Cup.

Driving accuracy, according to the FedEx Cup seedings, is apparently much more important.

Here is how the top six rank in driving accuracy: 75th, 45th, 17th, 9th, 14th and T177th.

That last number belongs to Harrington and it's a shocker, but it is more indicative of his struggles earlier this year as he worked to incorporate swing changes.

Only three of the top 10 leaders in driving distance made the final field of 30 (Dustin Johnson, third; Nick Watney (sixth; and Angel Cabrera, seventh), but there are 13 guys in the field ranked outside the top 100 in driving distance including Mike Weir (167th), Luke Donald (181st) and Brian Gay (192nd).

Something to think about the next time you’re going to bash a bucket at the range.

Hear and there

Canadians Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Matt Hill of Bright’s Grove, were featured on the cover of Golfweek magazine as it previewed the upcoming U.S. college season. They were headlined “Northern Stars.” Hill, the defending NCAA champ, was No. 1 in Golfweek’s pre-season rankings while Taylor was third. Hill, a junior at North Carolina State, won eight times last year including the ACC Championship, the NCAA Central Regional and the national championship, the first player to sweep the playoffs since Tiger Woods. He told Golfweek: “It’s hard to improve on what I did last year. If I don’t win as many times, that’s fine. I just want to keep getting better.” ...T aylor, a senior at Washington, said he gained about 20 yards this year, benefiting from a strength program and better swing mechanics... For folks in the Toronto area this weekend, Golf House at Glen Abbey in Oakville is taking part in the annual Doors Open Oakville event. Admission to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum is free. If you’ve got golf artifacts, you can bring them in and have them appraised by one of the staff historians. Clean out that basement.

The buzz

It wasn’t hard to keep track of golfers during their week off between FedEx Cup events. Y.E. Yang threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (or whatever they’re called these days) and Tiger Woods tuned up for the FedEx Cup finale by taking in the Monday Night Football game from the Indianapolis Colts sideline. Yang apparently did a good job. The guy looks like an athlete (remember how he bench-pressed his golf bag after winning the PGA?) ... From the “small world” department: Annika Sorenstam had her baby, Ava Madelyn McGee, at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando. Winnie was Arnold Palmer’s wife.

Revelations

Both Taylor and Hill have lots of Canuck company on their college teams. Also at Washington are Canadians Charlie Hughes of Maple Ridge, B.C., Kevin Spooner of West Vancouver and Darren Wallace of Langley, B.C. When Hill wants to talk hockey, he can turn to Ontario golfers — senior Brad Revell of Kingston, and freshman Mitch Sutton of London ... Taylor and the rest of the Huskies have been picked by some to win the NCAA championship this season ... Sutton has been projected as a top 10 freshman by Golfweek ... On the women’s side, Stephanie Sherlock, of Barrie, Ont., and a senior at Denver, is projected to be a top 10 player. She was ranked 20th last year with Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., a junior at Purdue, finishing 19th.

Speculations

So much for his T2 at Bethpage Black representing some kind of breakthrough for David Duval, huh? He missed the cut in three of four tournaments since and had a T63 in the other.

Just saying

You’ve got to like a guy like Angel Cabrera. The two-time major champ — whose roots go back to caddying in his native Argentina — picked up the tab for the caddies’ meals in Boston for the week. It’s estimated it cost him $5,000. He said it’s a tradition to buy the caddies dinner after a victory. He bought breakfast and lunch, too, at the trailer which served up the vittles for the loopers ... The debate about the FedEx Cup format will rage on, but one thing that has become clear to me: Taking a week off between the third and final events is a mistake. Whatever momentum the playoffs had coming out of Chicago — Woods won running away, remember? — has dissipated with the PGA Tour going dark for 10 days. Why give the NFL more of a chance to blow your game off the sports pages and Internet?

Just wondering

What do you think has been the biggest equipment breakthrough in golf? The metal wood would have to be up there, right? Everybody you know has one. Multi-layered golf balls, maybe? Popular Mechanics chose the belly putter which proves only one thing to me: There aren’t many golfers at Popular Mechanics.


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