Cleat Geeks

The 19th Hole: Two Big Winners

Golf has crowned a new $10 million man, and a rising rookie took a big step toward becoming a household name, all in one afternoon as the 2016-17 season ended over the weekend at the Tour Championship.

Justin Thomas didn’t win the final tournament, but he did climb to the No. 1 spot in the point standings, narrowly beating out his friend and former FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth for the $10 million prize for the season points champion.

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And Xander Schauffele had a great week of his own, making birdie at the final hole to claim a one-shot victory in the Tour Championship to claim his second win of the year and surely wrap up the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year race.

Both were understandably ecstatic.

“It’s been an unbelievable year, a special year,” Thomas said. “To cap it up with the FedEx trophy and, the title, it’s a great icing on the cake. I feel like I’m only getting started in terms of accomplishments.”

“I just felt very fortunate to even be here really starting off the week,” Schauffele said. “I was just happy to walk around the property, the Tour Championship, last 30 guys in the field. It was a very eerie vibe walking around and I just felt very lucky and here I am talking to you so I feel even luckier.”

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Thomas nearly won both events, closing strong and narrowly missing a birdie putt at the final hole that would have given him a one-shot lead. The tap-in par was the sweetest of his career, as it guaranteed the points title before Schauffele even had finished.

The rookie was just short of the 18th green in two shots, chipped up close and made a short birdie putt to win it. He captured the Greenbrier Classic this summer and was 26th in points entering the Tour Championship. With the win, he finished third, behind only Thomas and Spieth.

For Thomas, it caps a simply unreal season. He won five tournaments, including his first major championship in August at the PGA Championship.

His season sets up a great lookahead to next year, with Spieth, Thomas, a surging Hideki Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson and more all ready to do battle.

 

Presidents Cup

This week brings the Presidents Cup, with competition taking place just outside of New York City at Liberty National.

Honestly, it feels a bit anticlimactic so soon after the conclusion of the PGA Tour playoffs. And like the playoffs, it’s an event that struggles to get the national attention with not only the NFL and college football seasons rolling, but baseball’s final weekend of the regular season and the nearing of the NBA and NHL play.

Still, a lot of great golf will be played. Team USA has dominated this event, but the likes of Matsuyama, Adam Scott and several others will give the international squad one of its best teams ever.

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Tour Championship Picks

Our final run of picks was a lot like most of the season. Close but no winner.

Jordan Spieth – 2nd place in the final standings is still awfully good. 7-under, tied for 7th

Jon Rahm – Remember this name for many, many years to come. 7-under, tied for 7th

Matt Kuchar – Mr. Consistency finishes 12th in this year’s overall standings. 6-under, tied for 10th

Jason Dufner – A rough weekend knocked the former PGA Champ down the standings. Even par, tied for 20th

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