0

Tourney time
How exactly this PGA playoff works and what it means for the fans

Golf on television is great background noise.

It's the perfect soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon spent reading a magazine, straightening up the house or taking a nap (Majors, of course, are excluded).

I can recognize a golfer by his stance, his hat or his backswing, but I can't tell you the top 10 on the money list without looking it up. But I know where to look it up.

But even as a passive PGA observer I've heard of the FedEx Cup, and I knew golf was trying to get into the world of hosting playoffs. When I peruse final weekend results, I see the FedEx points in parenthesis and when I strolled around No. 18 at Sugarloaf during the AT&T Classic I saw the placard listing the current FedEx points leaders.

But I remember, as I walked by the sign in Duluth, thinking, "How does this work?" I asked, "Does the arbitrary point system really matter to the players?" It felt like NASCAR, where the champion is often known before the final race and then, after the race, one guy celebrates in victory lane and another with the Cup series title.

Then I shrugged and forgot about it - there was golf to watch.

But now it is here, the four-week playoff for the FedEx Cup, and I'll admit no matter how much golf I watched (or at least heard) I still had no idea how this points system facilitated a playoff and how these four weeks mattered more than the previous 36.

But after a lovely morning spent at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on Monday, I now have a loose grasp on how all this unfolds all the way through The Tour Championship at East Lake.

This week's tournament, The Barclays in New York, hosted the top 144 players on the points list. After today's final round, the field will be cut to the top 120 after the points are recalculated. The number will then be cut to 70 following the Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts. After that, the field will be reduced to 30 after the BMW Championship in Illinois.

It is those 30 players that will come to Atlanta for The Tour Championship and they'll be playing for not just the title of Tour Champion, but also the FedEx Cup title.

"It's like NASCAR and the NCAA tournament," said the PGA Tour's Rick Clarson.

Well, it's more NASCAR than NCAA, because the points severely hamper any major upset from a player in the bottom 50 entering this week. And in the NCAA tourney, no team gets to skip its first round game like Tiger Woods is skipping The Barclays.

But if you ask reigning Tour champion Adam Scott, the absence of Tiger is good for the field - and these playoffs.

"From my point of view, I am going to take advantage of his week off," Scott said Monday. "It's a great head start."

And Scott and I have a lot in common, sans the golf skills. I am not the only one ready to see that point standing list I saw back in May finally prove its quality.

"It's an exciting time for the players," Scott said. "Starting this week we will now get into the nitty gritty of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Volatility is going to be the exciting part with big swings in the points over the four weeks."

And Scott, for one, is ready to play four consecutive weeks of tournament golf.

"Playing four weeks in a row is not that bad, really," he said.

So today I may have to put the magazine down and really watch.

After all, it's the playoffs.

Duluth's Wright wins Callaway Gardens Classic

Kendal Wright of Duluth won the girls side of the Callaway Gardens Junior Classic with a 2-under par 140.

Wright was the only girl to shoot under par in the two-day event. Finishing behind Wright were Lilburn's Kimberly Graff (fourth), Lawrenceville's Kiersten Rom (10th), Dacula's Melanie Garland (T-12) and Suwanee's Jackie Rajek (16th).

On the boys side Dacula's Kevin Lee finished second with a 1-over-par 143. Coming in behind Lee were Dacula's Murray Flint (T-17), Lilburn's Patrick Rudebeck (T-22), Norcross' Justin Cho (T-27), Norcross' Matthew Luckett (T-40), Lilburn's Ted Moon (T-59), Duluth's William Thompson (T-83), Suwanee's Chris Rajek (T-87), Snellville's Taylor Walker (T-100), Lilburn's Andrew Stolorena (T-105), Lilburn's Michael Stolorena (T-108) and Snellville's John Paul Sexton (T-118).

Stone Mountain's Spinucci takes 3rd at Senior Women's Championship

Ginette Spinucci of Stone Mountain shot a 155 at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain to finish third overall in the Georgia State Golf Association's Senior Women's Championship.

Lawrenceville's Darlene Werhnyak shot a 160 to finish in the top five.

Lawrenceville's Simon finishes in top 15 at Senior Championship

Karl Simon of Lawrenceville shot a three-round 225 to finish tied for 12th in the Georgia Senior Championship at The Ford Plantation in Richmond Hill.

Finishing behind Simon were Lawrenceville's Jim Planche (T-18), Duluth's Pete Malcolm (T-27), Lawrenceville's Earl Johnson (T-48) and Norcross' David McCarty (T-54).

Kontur, Werhnyak win Northwood Championship

Bob Kontur braved the recent heat wave over 54 holes of golf to come away with the Northwood Country Club's Men's Club Championship last week.

On the women's side, Darlene Werhnyak successfully defended her title as Women's Club Champion. Werhnyak shot a 2-over-par 146 to keep the title.

Golfing Gwinnett is a weekly column that highlights golf in the area and welcomes contributions from courses and individuals. To be included in the column, fax information to (770) 339-8081 or e-mail to ben.beitzel@gwinnettdailypost.com.