Tiger Woods, lower center, and Rory McIlroy, lower left, emerging from a horde of fans following Tiger on their way to the 18th green during the final round of the 2018 Tour Championship. (AP)
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While the FedEx Cup playoffs have only been around since 2007 — the blink of an eye in golf history terms — they’ve already provided impressive moments of drama, heartbreak and exhilaration, including one of the finest and most inspiring 18th-hole walks ever. Here’s a recap of the greatest moments of the FedEx Cup playoffs:
Vijay Singh, 2008 FedEx Cup playoffs: Sometimes the players outplay the system. Back in 2008, the FedEx Cup series consisted of three preliminary events leading to the Tour Championship. Vijay Singh won the first two, giving himself such a lead heading into the Tour Championship that all he needed to do was literally just show up and he’d win the FedEx Cup. He did that, and the PGA Tour tweaked its rules — one of many times it would do so — to prevent a similar walkover from happening ever again.
Heath Slocum, Northern Trust Open, 2009: Remember who Heath Slocum is? Although he hasn’t played in a major since 2011, he did have one shining moment. In 2009, he pulled off one of the most surprising victories of the year. The second-to-last man to join the Northern Trust field, he holed a 20-foot par putt to beat Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker, all of whom were just one stroke back.
Phil Mickelson, Deutsche Bank Championship, 2007: Mickelson and Tiger Woods didn’t often face off with the tournament on the line, but when they did, magic happened. They battled through the final round of the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Mickelson won the battle, beating Woods 66-67 and claiming the tournament, but Woods won the war, taking the entire playoff championship.
Billy Horschel, 2014 FedEx Cup playoffs: There are streaks, and then there’s what Billy Horschel did in 2014. He missed the cut at the first playoff event, then began the Deutsche Bank Championship ranked No. 82 in the FedEx Cup standings. He finished second there, then won the BMW Championship, and capped off his performance with a victory at the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup.
Jon Rahm, BMW Championship, 2020: Dustin Johnson forced a playoff with Rahm at the BMW Championship when he holed a monstrous, hard-breaking 43-foot putt. On the very next hole, Rahm pulled off an impressive turnabout, draining an even longer and trickier 66-foot putt to claim the tournament. Johnson would go on to win the Tour Championship, but Rahm established himself as one of golf’s most clutch putters.
Tiger Woods, Tour Championship, 2007: There’s no better way to kick off a new series than with a Tiger Woods victory. At the inaugural FedEx Cup, Woods absolutely scorched the field, posting both the lowest 54- and 72-hole scores of his career. He finished at -23, eight shots ahead of the field, and claimed the first FedEx Cup for his own.
Jim Furyk, Tour Championship, 2010: Furyk was looking for a magic wand in the 2010 playoffs, and he found it — an old putter in the used-club bin at a Boston-area sporting goods store. He rode it all the way to the 18th green of the Tour Championship, where he found himself in the greenside bunker, clinging to a one-shot lead. In a steady rain, he chipped to within three feet, and his newly trusty putter did the rest, clinching the FedEx Cup.
Rory McIlroy, Tour Championship, 2016: McIlroy has made a habit of charging up the leaderboard late in the day at majors without actually catching the leaders. This time, he did that and more. McIlroy eagled the 16th and birdied the 18th at East Lake to fight his way into a playoff with Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore. He birdied the fourth playoff hole to win his first of three — and counting — FedEx Cups.
Bill Haas, Tour Championship, 2011: Perhaps the greatest recovery shot in PGA Tour history by dollars earned. On the second extra hole at East Lake, Haas — trying to outduel Hunter Mahan — put his approach shot into the edge of the lake itself. He splashed his way out of the water to tap-in distance, matching Mahan’s par on that hole and then winning on the next. A magnificent play that will live on as long as shots go wide.
Tiger Woods, Tour Championship, 2018: Woods hadn’t won a tournament in five years. The injuries and the years had piled up. Everyone but Woods figured he was done … and then Woods stormed his way to a win at the Tour Championship. The East Lake gallery was so overwhelmed with joy that fans surged through the ropes and onto the fairway behind Woods, giving him a processional up the fairway unlike any ever seen in golf before.
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