Well, the Tour Championship is upon us, or, should you hew to Tim Finchem’s line, the finals of the Fed-Ex Cup. Try with all his might, the commissioner couldn’t escape the ultimate collision with major league baseball (races to the playoffs in both leagues) nor football (college and pro).
There is one ray of sunshine, however. Tiger Woods will be at East Lake this time, and in glowing health, though without a major championship to his name. In fact, there are some strange quirks in this cast. Neither the Fed-Ex Cup champion (Vijay Singh) nor the Tour Championship defender (Camilo Villegas) was able to qualify. Nor was the other half of the charge to the finish last year, Sergio Garcia.
On the other hand, three players who can only be found in the back of the PGA Tour Guide will be on hand. That’s the section headlined “Other Prominent PGA Tour Players,” and those three are Y.E. Yang, PGA Champion; Jason Dufner, a veteran scrambler and graduate of the Tour Q-School (again); and a surprising rookie from Australia, Marc Leishman.
It may not have occurred to you, but the Tour Championship has never been Tiger Woods’ piece of cake. He has won at East Lake only twice, in 1999 and 2007, a runner-up three times. Retief Goosen wiped him out b y four strokes in 2004, when he ran Tiger down in the Sunday stretch. Then a year later, the unlikely Bart Bryant cooked him by six strokes. Phil Mickelson nailed him by two strokes in 2000, so you see, East Lake is no eastern soft touch such as Torrey Pines, where all Tiger has to do is sign in.
Then there was the scurrilous year of 2006, when Tiger was a no-show. Apparently, he was fatigued and needed some rest. So checking the wire reports the day after Adam Scott closed out the Tour Championship, you found Tiger had gone to the Orient for some R&R. He got it in Shanghai, in the HBSC Tournament, a European Tour event. There he got his first dose of Y.E. Yang. The Korean won the HBSC and beat Tiger by two strokes. Now Woods gets another chance at revenge, this time at East Lake. Yang will get the chance to repeat his PGA performance at Hazeltine and make it Yang 3, Woods 0.
Interesting stuff, eh?