Posted Sep 23 2010, 05:42 AM by Cathy Erickson
There is really nothing better than having your favorite golfers being in contention coming into a Major or an end of season event like the Tour Championship...or the FedEx Cup finale. I'm thinking back to Greg Norman's hey days...it was like an emotional roller coaster for me - the highs of seeing him winning and crushing blows of seeing a few heart breaking losses.
It's sort of hilarious that I am STILL picturing Larry Mize in the purple striped shirt jumping and running after knocking his chip in at the Masters all those years ago. But that is what being a golf fan is all about.
It's no secret that I'm a HUGE Steve Stricker fan - I'm drawn to his story of early success, his time of struggle, and then ultimately a return to the highest level of professional golf...all the while being a GREAT guy. But it's not just about his admirable character traits...he's got game! I love his stripped down basic swing, his accuracy from 100 and in, and his awesome putting stats. He can go long when he needs to, but he's also got the mental game to play smart, too. I would LOVE to see Steve Stricker win at East Lake this week...you know he and I will both be crying!
But then there's Matt Kuchar...ah, Matt. I got on the Kuchar fan bus all the way back in 1998 after his great finish at the Masters when he was still a college student at Georgia Tech...winning the US Amateur got him the invite to Augusta back then and he was paired with none other than defending champion Tiger Woods for the first 2 days. He finished T21 that week - the best finish for a non-Professional in over 20 years.
Kuchar had a PGA tour win in 2002 (the Honda Classic), but since then it's taken awhile to firmly plant himself as one of the PGA Tour's top players. A win at the Turning Stone last year and a 24th place finish on the 2009 money list were the first signs that we might see that bright smile and flat swing plane a little more often on the leader board in 2010.
Even as a fan, I'm not sure even I was prepared for the fantastic year he has given us this season! Coming into the Tour Championship this week Kuchar is #1 on the money list, #1 in the FedEx Cup standings and #1 on the PGA Tour's All Around ranking...and he is also currently #1 in scoring average. As I shared last week, I am a true believer that Matt Kuchar deserves to be player of the year. I know we've got a week to go, and there are a few scenarios that could change things up, but there is no question in my mind that Matt Kuchar is the most deserving player in 2010.
Obviously a win this week would completely seal the deal, so even though my heart is pulling for Stricker, I also want Matt to win because it would complete the fairy tale year that he SO deserves.
Funny thing is, I wouldn't be surprised to see Phil Mickelson become back to back Tour Champion winner. He's been on and off the radar all year, he's been in contention and then faded...and then there was "the shot" at the Masters..."the win for the family". Yeah, I cried then, too. I think Mickelson, despite is arthritis issues, is ready to pounce on this field and bring some momentum to the Ryder Cup...and maybe, finally, capturing the #1 spot in the world??!! Makes for a pretty good story to me!
I know there are lots of folks big on Paul Casey and Justin Rose - it's still hard to fathom that both of these guys will not be playing on the European Ryder Cup team -they may very well feel like they have something to prove, so I wouldn't rule out either of those guys making a charge for the Tour Championship Title.
And how do you not love the power hitters like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson? Dustin is a definite contender for POY, and it's hard to know if his win last week at the BMW will propel him to another win or if the relief of finally getting those painful losses off his back will level him off for the week.
Dustin, along with Bubba, must also be carrying a lot of excitement around for the Ryder Cup - that could actually be a slight distraction, especially for Watson, who seems genuinely thrilled to be a part of Team USA...I never think these Pro's don't give it their all, but their brains have to be working overtime about now!
As I browse the rest of the field I find myself saying "Hey, I wouldn't mind seeing that guy win" about Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Nick Watney, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, KJ Choi, Zach Johnson, or Tim Clark...heck, I think I'm rooting for half of the field now!
Say what you want about the FedEx Cup, the Tour Championship during football season, or the downside to a limited field event...it doesn't matter to me, I'm excited about golf this weekend!!
Enjoy the Tour Championship and the finals of the FedEx Cup!
Filed under: Masters, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, FedEx Cup, Cathy Erickson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Tour Championship
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