During the first round of the FedEx Cup, I must admit to being surprised not to see Stephen Ames’ name in the list of players. Though he finished weakly in the final round of the PGA Championship and was snubbed as a selection for the Presidents Cup, I still expected to see Ames in the field.
But Ames wasn’t there. He was at home in Calgary, recovering from the PGA Championship and trying to fix a posture problem he says plagued him during the final round of the tournament. Ames spoke with the Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein and had this to say:
“The game takes a lot out of you,” Ames said. “That’s why Tiger doesn’t play a lot. We’re out trying to win. We hit every shot as if it’s our last one. That’s tough mentally, and you also have to be physically fit.”
The funny thing is that in an interview with me earlier in the year, Ames made fun of Phil Mickelson, calling him “fat,” and saying players needed to be in better shape to tackle the playoff structure. But Phil “Subcutaneous Fat” Mickelson was in the field last week at the Barclays and Ames was not.
I also find it interesting that Ames says he’ll play more events after the FedEx playoff because taking a couple of months off is simply too long for his game. Rube’s full story is here.
Of course no one south of the border will notice Ames’ return to the playoffs, largely because the story is, once again, who is not going to be there. In this case it is world No. 4 ranked Ernie Els who apparently is going back to England because his kids can’t go to school without the Big Easy riding along with the chauffeur.
Ive been on the road now for almost eight weeks and it is important that I return home where my children will be preparing their return to school, said Els in a statement. Hell spend the week at his home in Wentworth, England. I regret having to miss such a prestigious and important tournament.
But Els isn’t alone. In fact 10 of the Top 50 won’t be in the field this week.
Els, a South African, joined American Tom Lehman, Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, German Bernhard Langer and American Scott Verplank as players who have withdrawn from the Deutsche Bank. Els is 10th in the FedEx Cup standings with 96,967 points, almost 8,000 behind leader Steve Stricker. Olazabal, who didnt play The Barclays either, is 98th on the points list with 88,300. After a tie for 35th at The Barclays, Verplank is 15th with 96,341, while Langer is 59th with 91,075. Lehman is 87th with 89,050 points.
All of this will matter little since Woods will be back in the field. But at the same time, it is hard envision that this is what Tim Finchem hoped for when he set up the FedEx schedule.
The full story on Els is here.
It is worth heading to Geoff Shackelford’s blog to see the results of an aggressive renovation of a golf course. In this case, it is the TPC course in Boston that hosts this week’s tournament. The before and after photos are startling. Check it out here.