A brief history of Tiger in the FedExCup Playoffs
August 19, 2018
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods wins 2007 TOUR Champ and FedExCup
You’d need a thick notebook and a lot of ink for a complete list of Tiger Woods’ accomplishments, and while this entry would get understandably small mention, it nonetheless speaks to the man’s greatness: He topped the 2008 regular-season FedExCup standings in just six tournaments.
Look it up. He played six tournaments that season, won four of them, placed fifth and second in the others, and piled up 22,695 FEC points (in the last year before the points formatting was changed) before going in for knee surgery in June. That wound up being 1,817 points more than second-place finisher Kenny Perry, who played in 22 tournaments.
All of it became academic, of course, when Vijay Singh – taking advantage of Woods being sidelined – won the first two playoff tournaments to capture the FedExCup title. Still, Woods’ amazing feat is good fodder as we embrace his return to postseason play for the first time in five years.
Yes, five seasons. To get a sense of how long it’s been since Woods took part in the FedExCup Playoffs, consider what else in golf was going on Sept. 19-22, 2013, when he shot even-par 280 to tie for 22n in the TOUR Championship:
• Justin Thomas was relaxing in the aftermath of a 2-0-1 performance in Team USA’s Walker Cup win, prepping for the upcoming Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament.
• A young and unheralded American named Brooks Koepka missed the cut at the Italian Open and was 113th on the European Tour’s Race To Dubai.
• Jon Rahm had just started his sophomore year at Arizona State with a share of 41st in the Kikkor Golf Invitational hosted by the University of Washington.
Today, Thomas, Koepka, and Rahm are PGA TOUR stars who have combined for 15 wins and currently rank second, third and 13th, respectively, in the FedExCup standings. These lads are 25, 28 and 23 years old, respectively, which is a far different picture from the last time Woods participated in the playoffs. That year, 2013, the top three finishers in the FEC standings were Henrik Stenson, Woods and Steve Stricker – 37, 37 and 46 years old, respectively, at the time.
Certainly, the landscape that confronts Woods has gotten younger, deeper and more powerful. In 2007, Woods was first in regular-season FEC points but 11 of the next 19 names were older than him. Today, Woods sits 20th in FEC points and only one of the 19 names above him is older (Phil Mickelson, 10th). Between those contrasting views sits the reality that Woods contributed mightily to the advent of the FedExCup Playoffs and still owns more placements in the record book than anyone else. To wit:
• Though he has only been qualified for six of the previous 11 FedExCup Playoffs, Woods has been the regular-season points leader five times. No one else has led this category more than once.
• Woods is the only player to win the FedExCup more than once (2007, 2009).
• Though he has played in just 18 Playoffs events, Woods has three wins, that total surpassed only by Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, with four each.
• Woods has topped the regular-season FedExCup points list and gone on to win the title (2007, 2009). Only Jordan Spieth (2015) has matched that.
While it’s been five years since Woods won a PGA TOUR event (the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational), his last win in the Playoffs was a whopping nine seasons ago, the 2009 BMW Championship. It’s wild to consider how much time has passed since then, but worth remembering his history in these Playoffs:
2007 – In the inaugural FedExCup season, Woods piled up five wins and nine top-10s, good for 30,574 points, which was 11,445 more than No. 2, Singh. He skipped the Playoffs opener, then in a memorable playoff at TPC Boston, the heavyweight pairing of Woods, Mickelson and Singh scored 64, 64, and 66, respectively, in Round 2. Woods finished tied for second behind Mickelson there, then won the BMW Championship and steamrolled the field by eight at the TOUR Championship to win the FedExCup. Said playing competitor Mark Calcavecchia, who started the fourth round three back and got blitzed, 66-71: “The best putter ever and I mean ever.” Calcavecchia then got asked about Player of the Year honors. He laughed. “I think Phil is definitely our second-best player out here.”
2008 – From the regular-season leader in FedExCup points, Woods finished 70th as he sat out competition after knee surgery in June.
2009 – Five wins and 11 top-10s were good for 3,431 points in the revamped FedExCup system. Steve Stricker was second, 1,276 points behind. Woods finished T-2 and T-11 in the first two Playoffs events, then won the BMW Championship for a fifth time at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club. It set up a special scene at East Lake Golf Club, as Mickelson, four off the lead to start the final round, tossed down an emphatic 65 to win by three over Woods, who closed with 69. Mickelson won the tournament but Woods won the FedExCup. The game’s two biggest stars held glittering trophies, but leave it to Lefty to put his lighthearted spin on it. “I don’t know if I understand this right,” he said, “but I shot 65 and Tiger shot 69 and he gets a check for $10 million.” It was Woods’ second FEC title, while Mickelson finished second.
2010 – Woods’ first winless season in his PGA TOUR career resulted in a 112th-place finish in FedExCup regular-season points. He played nicely in the first three Playoffs tournaments – T-12, T-11, T-15 – and bust the bubble twice to keep advancing, but he did not qualify for the TOUR Championship. “Just the way it is,” Woods said. “I didn’t play well early in the year and I didn’t play well in the middle of the year.”
2011 – For the first time, Woods did not qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Injured, again, he played just nine regular-season tournaments, went winless, and had just two top-10s.
2012 – Rebounding with authority, Woods’ three wins and six top-10s translated into first-place in regular-season points for a fourth time. He did not win in the Playoffs, however, and was overtaken by Brandt Snedeker, who won the TOUR Championship and FedExCup. Woods was T-8 in the final tournament, third in the FedExCup.
2013 – A five-win season mixed with seven top-10s easily left Woods the regular-season points leader, with Matt Kuchar second. At Liberty National in the playoff opener, Woods tried to rally from four back with a final-round 69, only he fell one shy as Adam Scott pulled off a more dramatic comeback (66 to win). From there, Woods finished T-65 at TPC Boston, T-11 at Conway Farms, and T-22 in the TOUR Championship to get passed by eventual FedExCup champ winner Henrik Stenson. Woods was second.
Woods’ overall record at the four Playoffs tournaments:
THE NORTHERN TRUST: Four starts, best finish a T-2 twice at Liberty National, 2009 and 2013. Ridgewood CC is this year’s site and in 2010 Woods tied for 12th there.
The Dell Technologies Championship: Five starts, best finish a T-2 in 2007.
The BMW Championship: Five starts, best finish being wins in 2007 and 2009, both at Cog Hill.
The TOUR Championship: Four starts, best finish being a victory in 2007. He has two other top 10s.
Cumulative: 18 starts, 3 victories, 3 seconds, 10 top 10s, 2 FEC titles.