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August 21, 2008

FedEx Cup without Tiger, but with intrigue

At least we don't know who is going to win. The absence of Tiger Woods in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which began Thursday with the first round of The Barclays, is never good news for the PGA Tour. But it does leave the playoffs with more intrigue. Who will step up and win the second annual Cup? Padraig Harrington has a chance for a monster year after winning two consecutive major championships. Sergio Garcia can break through and somewhat make up for near misses in the last two majors. And Phil Mickelson can resurrect his season with a playoff title. Without Woods, the title is open to a number of players, though Justin Rose doesn't look like he'll be one of them. The Englishman, whose instructor is Nick Bradley of Barefoot Resort, is playing on the European Tour this year rather than the first playoff event. He's the reigning European Tour money list titlist and is apparently serious about defending. Who do I like? I'm taking Mike Weir for sentimental reasons. Weir, a Canadian, is following hockey tradition and growing a playoff beard. He appears in a FedEx Cup Playoffs commercial with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who suggested that Weir grow a playoff beard, and Weir has apparently followed through and has a beard.
The playoffs should conclude with a kiss of the Cup for the first time. Woods reserves his kisses for his family and major championship trophies, but this year's winner will surely be ecstatic enough to kiss the cup, if not the pile of money that will be at his disposal. Unlike last year, when the entire $10 million was deferred, $9 of the $10 million will be in a pile awaiting the winner.

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