Planet Golf — 06 May 2017 by GW staff and news services
Golf Bag: FedEx extends PGA contract

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Having celebrated the first decade of the FedExCup last September with Rory McIlroy’s memorable charge to the championship, the PGA Tour and FedEx Corp. have announced a long-term extension of the shipping giant’s sponsorship of the FedExCup season-long competition on the PGA Tour.

“The FedEx relationship has been invaluable to the PGA Tour on multiple fronts for more than 30 years, beginning with its sponsorship of the FedEx St. Jude Classic,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “The FedExCup revolutionized the fan viewing experience and competitive landscape of the PGA Tour, establishing a cohesive narrative throughout the schedule and a compelling conclusion to the season with the FedExCup Playoffs.”

“We are proud to extend our historic sponsorship of the FedExCup, which has dramatically changed the PGA TOUR,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president, Integrated Marketing and Communications for FedEx. “The FedExCup is the ultimate prize on the PGA TOUR, and the season-long competition has delivered some of the most exciting finishes in recent memory.”

As part of the sponsorship renewal, FedEx has committed $1 million in annual donations to benefit non-profit organizations. The donations align with FedEx Cares, a global giving initiative, in which FedEx is investing $200 million in over 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver solutions for people around the world.

Beyond defining the season champion, the FedExCup has made every tournament more meaningful through the season-long points competition and has created a consistent platform for media partners to tell the PGA Tour story. The FedExCup Playoffs give fans the opportunity to see golf’s greatest players compete at the highest level in four high-profile events, culminating with the crowning of the FedExCup Champion.

Rory McIlroy emerged as the 10th champion with a memorable title run featuring two FedExCup Playoffs victories, capped by a dramatic Sunday finish at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta. McIlroy holed out from 137 yards for an eagle-2 on East Lake Golf Club’s 16th hole and then birdied No. 18, forcing a three-way playoff with Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell. McIlroy finally secured the victory and the FedExCup champion’s title with a 15-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole – appropriately, No. 16.

In doing so, McIlroy joined an impressive list of FedExCup Champions: Tiger Woods (2007, 2009), Vijay Singh (2008), Jim Furyk (2010), Bill Haas (2011), Brandt Snedeker (2012), Henrik Stenson (2013), Billy Horschel (2014) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

Harman’s long putt wins Wells Fargo

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Dustin Johnson was in the clubhouse, tied for the lead and poised for a chance to join an elite class with a fourth straight PGA Tour victory. Brian Harman was on the last tee, knowing a birdie on the par-5 18th would be enough to win the Wells Fargo Championship.

Harman could have drawn it up differently, but not any better.

Switching from a 5-wood to a 3-wood for his 271-yard shot in the 18th, he went so long that he needed relief from a corporate chalet. His chip became harder because of tree limbs that made him go low, and his chip came out soft and barely got onto the green.

And then he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt for a 4-under 68 and a one-shot victory Sunday over Johnson and Pat Perez.

“I didn’t hit a great chip. It didn’t turn out very good,” Harman said. “But I guess it went where it was supposed to.”

The greens at Eagle Point were so pure that Harman knew it was good when the ball was 5 feet from the cup. He turned and pumped his arms in a wild celebration that ended in a hug with his caddie, Scott Tway, for a victory that was a long time coming.

Harman won for the first time in nearly three years.

For Johnson, playing for the first time since a freak accident knocked him out of the Masters Tournament, it was the first time in nearly three months that he left a PGA TOUR event without the trophy. It wasn’t from a lack of trying. Johnson made the cut on the number, and then went 67-67 on the weekend, including a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole, to nearly pull out another victory.

“I didn’t have a lot of time off, so I didn’t really know what to expect this week because I didn’t really get to practice leading into this tournament, either,” Johnson said. “Not much has changed. The first couple days I didn’t play that great, but really played nicely on Saturday and Sunday and so I’m happy with where the game is going into next week.”

Perez did his part, bouncing back from a double bogey on the 14th hole that took him out of the lead by making birdies on the 16th and 18th holes for a 68 that he thought might be good enough for a playoff with Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player, and Harman.

“Hell of an up-and-down from back there,” Perez said. “He deserves it. He played great.”

Perez moves to No. 42 in the world ranking, which makes him a lock to be exempt from U.S. Open qualifying. Harman gets back to the Masters, and he doesn’t mind having to wait 11 months for a return to Augusta National.

Jon Rahm of Spain was in the mix, too. Rahm, one of five players who had at least a share of the lead on the back nine, watched from the 18th fairway as the crowd that surrounded the hole and filled all three levels of a hospitality chalet erupted in cheers. He knew he needed an eagle — just like the one he made at Torrey Pines for his first PGA TOUR victory — to force a playoff. He was posing. And it sailed over the green, leading to par and a 71 to finish alone in fourth.

Daly wins for first time since 2004

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – One year ago, John Daly made his PGA TOUR Champions debut. And it came at the Insperity Invitational.

He celebrated the one-year anniversary with his first victory.

Daly shot a final-round 3-under 69 and finished 14 under on the week to win by one shot over Tommy Armour III and Kenny Perry at The Woodlands Country Club.

“It’s just awesome,” said Daly, who wore pants in the style of the American flag on Sunday. “I want to let all my sponsors know that I love them and thank them for everything.”

Daly entered Sunday with a 1-shot lead over Perry but quickly built on it. He eagled the first hole, then added a birdie on No. 3 to extend his lead to 3 shots. But before Daly made the turn, Tommy Armour III went on a tear and grabbed part of the lead at 13 under overall.

Daly later made bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, but Armour and Perry couldn’t apply much pressure.

“Nothing happened for me down the stretch,” Armour III said. “I bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18. Hit it in the water at 17 and hit it in the trees on 18 and made those two bogeys. What can I do. I kind of threw away the tournament.”

Daly was able to play the tough finishing hole conservatively to secure the win.

“These finishing holes are so hard,” Daly said. “I didn’t hit the irons very good these last two days. I drove the ball tremendously with my Vertical Groove driver. And I putted so good. I just kind of hung in there and did the best I could. It wasn’t pretty at the end, but I got it done. That’s all that matters.”

As he strolled up the 18th fairway with a likely victory in the books, Daly bent down and kissed a huge Arnold Palmer umbrella that tournament workers painted on the grass.

“Some guys come out here and win right off the bat, get the monkey off their back, but now I can say I’m a champion on the PGA TOUR Champions,” Daly said. “It’s really cool and hopefully I can keep this confidence going.”

After the winning putt dropped, fellow competitor Esteban Toledo was one of those who showered Daly with champagne.

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