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Verdict still out on FedExCup

Although the jury is still out on the success of the inaugural FedExCup playoffs, Phil Mickelson's gripping win at the Deutsche Bank Championship provided an ideal script for organizers, sponsors and fans.

The swashbuckling left-hander held off a late challenge by Tiger Woods with two birdies in the last three holes after a thrilling battle between the game's top two players down the stretch on Monday.

One week earlier, American Steve Stricker clinched the Barclays Classic, the opening leg of the PGA Tour's four-event playoff series, with birdies on the last three holes in another dramatic finish.

Most of the players and Tour officials agree, though, that any assessment of the FedExCup experiment should not be made until the first edition has run its course, if not beyond.

"I won't have a good comment for you on the FedExCup for a couple years," Mickelson told reporters at the TPC Boston.

"I've got to give it a fair chance to play out and see how the individual events go and see how the overall chase for the Cup goes.

"The first year we're going to need to do a few tweaks, and I'm curious to see how next year's scheduling is going to be.

"My favorite thing about the FedExCup is the way the pairings go straight down the points list," the world number two added.

"It leads to some excitement and I had a lot of fun on the golf course being able to play three rounds with Tiger and a couple with Vijay (Singh)."

Mickelson, Woods and Fijian Singh were grouped together for the first two rounds at the TPC Boston as the fifth, fourth and sixth-ranked players in the FedExCup points standings.

Woods agreed fan interest had benefited hugely from the playoff system, which was introduced by the Tour to breathe fresh life into the late-season events with a NASCAR-style finale

"All year we've been talking about how it's been kind of dead with the excitement level," the world number one said.

"D.C. (for the AT&T National hosted by Woods) was pretty rowdy and here it's been pretty rowdy. It's nice to see some atmosphere out there. It was fun for the gallery and it's probably great for the tournament."

One component of the FedExCup playoffs that will be probably be tweaked for next season is the amount of points available to players further down the rankings who perform well.

Only two players outside the top 120 going into the Barclays qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship, before a further 50 were cut for this week's event in Chicago.

"They condensed everybody going into the first week and doubled the points, so I expected a lot more movement on the list than actually happened," Britain's Justin Rose told Reuters.

"Only two players made it in and that was interesting. It could be the one tweak that they make."

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem agreed it was too early to pass judgment.

"I think we've had some good ideas, but we'll sort them out afterwards," he said before last week's tournament.

"I don't want to get the fans distracted right now by commenting on that stuff, I'd rather have the competition play out."


September 5, 2007

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