A Good Friend Lost


As we go through life, it’s inevitable that we will have to say goodbye to some friends, family, or coworkers along the journey. It’s almost always said with the anticipation that we will see each other in the future, and work together again soon. Very recently, I said goodbye to a coworker and friend, but I didn’t realize at the time that this commonly-used phrase, as early as 1570, was the original intent of “God be with you.”

One of the many perks working for talkSPORT, the largest radio station in the world, is getting to broadcast alongside former great European Tour players. At the recent Open Championship at Royal Portrush, I was delighted to work alongside the former tour pro Gordon Brand Jr. Gordy, as he liked to be called, played on two victorious European Ryder Cup teams. He was fun, he was sharp, and he brought out the best in me. Whether it was mic-side, bar-side, or dinner-table-side, he was always a pleasure to be around. He was just a fun guy. He was great on the course and he was very talented behind the microphone. When we said our goodbyes after The Open, little did I know he would pass away less than two weeks later from a heart attack. Gordy, you will be missed.

Last week’s Wyndham Championship was the last event on the regular PGA Tour schedule for the 2018-19 season, with lots on the line for a lot of different players. All the bonus pools other than the FedExCup were finalized, and Brooks Koepka seemed to come out on top, but the biggest prize category was to finish the Wyndham Championship inside the Top 125 on the FedExCup points list.

So, why’s that such a big deal? Players 1 to 125 on the list advanced to the playoffs, which start this week. The Northern Trust is being played at Liberty National — the Top 70 from there move on to compete in next week’s BMW Championship, and then the Top 30 advance to the Tour Championship, and that’s where the big payout is. There were some really big names that didn’t make it past the Wyndham Championship and lost their Tour card. Hunter Mahan, Beau Hossler, and even two-time Major championship winner Martin Kaymer were among them.

Meanwhile, first-time winners continue to prevail on the PGA Tour. The 2019 Wyndham Championship winner is 26-year-old J.T. Poston, who had the great experience of being able to win almost in his own backyard. He was born and raised just about 100 miles away from Greensboro, North Carolina, and that was just close enough for friends and family to make the trip to watch Poston notch his first victory. Poston had only two Top 10-finishes this season, so the winning $1 million gift-wrapped paycheck doubled this season’s earnings. But, more importantly, he earned a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, an invitation into the Masters and the PGA Championship, plus all the invitationals. He will also be going to the winner’s-only event in Maui in January — the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

There were two things that really stood out about Poston’s Wyndham championship victory. One, he played all 72 holes without a single bogey (the last time that was accomplished was 1974 when Lee Trevino went bogey-free to win) and two, Poston became the 14th first-time winner on Tour this year.

Remember last year, when Tiger had that magical win at the Tour Championship? I’m pretty sure he’s hoping to do the same this year. But he’ll have to get through the cut-downs at the Northern Trust and the BMW before he can advance to that elite stage once again.

In 1975, the total purse for the entire season on the PGA Tour was $1.46 million; an average of $35,000 per event. In this year’s Tour Championship, the winner of the FedExCup and the winner of the Tour Championship will be one and the same under the new changes, which means August 25 one person will take home $15 million in FedExCup money plus the $1.6 million first-place check. It’s hard to believe that the Tour Champion will take home around $2 million, more than everyone who played on the Tour in 1975.

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