1. There is always drama when a PGA TOUR player wades into the water to play a shot out of the hazard. Then add the pressure of a sudden-death playoff. For the TOUR Championship, the FedExCup trophy and its $10 million prize. Bill Haas was facing Hunter Mahan when Haas' approach shot on the second extra hole at East Lake trickled into the water. With Mahan assured a par, Haas had no choice but to try to pull off a miracle shot. Not only did he splash it out onto the green, but the ball checked up next to the hole. With his father and TOUR stalwart Jay Haas watching and his brother Jay, Jr. carrying his bag, Bill made a clutch par at No. 18 to win the title and hold both trophies. His up-and-down from the water will live forever among golf’s greatest recovery shots.
2. Every golfer has the fantasy that one club will turn him or her into a winner. Jim Furyk went looking for such a magic weapon in a used-club barrel at a sporting goods store near Boston. He bought a used Yes! putter and put it in the bag for the remaining two Playoff events. He was protecting a one-shot lead at the TOUR Championship when he hit his tee shot at the par-3 18th into a greenside bunker. In a steady drizzle, Furyk hit a great shot from the soggy sand to about 3 feet, but it wouldn’t mean anything unless his new, old putter came through. You could almost see him scream, “Yes!” when he holed the clutch putt to claim golf's biggest prize
Watch the Golf Channel on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET for Golf's Greatest Rounds, which will feature Furyk's drive to the FedExCup title.
3. There was a lot of hype promoting the first FedExCup in 2007. A win by Tiger Woods would immediately add credibility to the new Playoff competition. As he usually does, Woods delivered. He packaged four stellar rounds of 66 or lower en route to an eight-shot victory at East Lake. He was the first to have his name engraved on the sterling silver Tiffany FedExCup trophy.
4. The Barclays in 2009 was the first TOUR event contested at spectacular Liberty National, and it delivered one of the most spectacular Playoff fields in PGA TOUR history. A star-studded field squared off in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker all finished a shot behind Heath Slocum. He rolled in a 20-foot par putt at the last hole for his third PGA TOUR title, easily the most memorable of his career.
5. The 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship truly had a playoff atmosphere when Phil Mickelson and Woods were paired together for the final round. TPC Boston seemed more like Fenway Park for a Red Sox game against the Yankees. In the penultimate group, the two stars exceeded the lofty expectations: Woods shot 67, but Mickelson shot 66 to win by two shots.
6. In 2008 at The Barclays, Sergio Garcia looked to have the upper hand in a playoff against Vijay Singh and Kevin Sutherland. The Spaniard drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole, and was probably rehearsing his acceptance speech when Singh did what World Golf Hall of Fame members do: Singh holed a clutch 20-foot birdie of his own to tie Garcia. The crowd's roars were still echoing among the stately oak trees at Ridgewood Country Club when Singh hit two magnificent shots on the second playoff hole, which was a par 5. Singh’s fourth victory in the New York metropolitan area made his first Playoff triumph truly memorable.
7. Camilo Villegas was the first player to win consecutive Playoff events in FedExCup history, but not even that hot streak could compete with the roll Rory McIlroy was on to end 2012. Fresh off of winning his second major title – the PGA Championship – by a whopping eight shots, McIlroy entered the FedExCup Playoffs with high hopes and low scores. He overcame a three-shot deficit to pass Louis Oosthuizen and win the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. He dominated Crooked Stick in suburban Indianapolis to win the following week's BMW Championship. He won by two shots over a leaderboard that featured four players once ranked No. 1 in the world.
8. At The Barclays in 2010, Martin Laird three-putted away a victory at the final green, and Matt Kuchar took advantage of the second chance. Kuchar's 7-iron shot out of the rough on the first extra hole rolled onto and around the green before stopping a mere 2 feet away from birdie. It marked Kuchar's third win in nearly a decade on TOUR. It propelled him into an elite player, preceding victories at THE PLAYERS Championship, World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial.
9. Brandt Snedeker held the 54-hole lead at The TOUR Championship, but instead of dwelling on what winning the FedExCup would mean to him, he spent his Sunday morning in Atlanta trying to bring joy and comfort to Tucker Anderson. The son of Snedeker’s swing coach Todd Anderson, Tucker was critically injured in a car crash earlier that September. Snedeker said the hospital visit put the competition in perspective. Later that afternoon, Snedeker chipped in on the 71st hole to win both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup. More importantly, he inspired a friend during his difficult recovery.
10. The FedExCup Playoffs were still only 2 years old when Snedeker approached the 72nd hole at the BMW Championship. He was focused on a high finish to get himself back to the TOUR Championship after just missing the previous year. He struggled in the final round at Cog Hill – he was 2 over standing on the 18th green – but he stood over a makeable par putt to punch his ticket to Atlanta. He missed. Then he missed his bogey putt. And his short comebacker. A four-putt on the final green left a visibly shaken Snedeker on the outside looking in. This was one of the moments that showed fans how important the FedExCup is to the players. It was a bitter moment that made his triumph in 2012 all the more sweeter.
Tom Alter is the Vice President of Communications for the PGA TOUR and has worked at the TOUR for more than 25 years in television production, programming, and now promotion. He will be working at all four of this year’s FedExCup Playoff events.