For most golf fans the concept of “playoffs” in golf is still not a highly accepted one. The first incarnations of them haven’t exactly brought forth the drama you might find in the NFL, NHL, or MLB, but in spots there have been a few glimmers of hope.
The run to the 2010 FedEx Cup starts in New Jersey this week and brings with it more than a few questions – most of them surrounding Tiger Woods. How will the World #1 play in his first week after his divorce was made official? And better yet can he pull himself out of the basement of the rankings to actually advance his way through the four playoff tournaments.
Currently 112th in FedEx Cup Points, the PGA Tour estimates that he will need to finish between 50 and 57th at The Barclays to advance to the BMW Championship. He tied for 2nd last year at Liberty Nationals but missed the event in 2008 (the last time it was held at Ridgewood) due to a knee injury.
Tiger, and a whole lot of other players, have a long road ahead if they want to work their way into a Top 5 position in the FedEx Cup points standings, the position you need to be in heading into the Tour Championship if you want to have a chance to take home the big prize.
But before the pros think of the Tour Championship, they have to get themselves into the top 100 to make it into next week’s BMW Championship. Currently, only the top 42 players at The Barclays are assured mathematically to advance.
Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, and Jim Furyk lead the point standings as The Barclays begins but due to a missed pro-am tee time and subsequent disqualification, Furyk will not much of a chance of securing the position through this week at Ridgewood G&CC.
The player with the longest climb this week will be Scott Piercy. As the only player who worked how way into the field via his play at the Wyndham Championship is looking to improve on his 88th place in the FedEx Cup standings from last year. He advanced from The Barclays in 2009, even after missing the cut at Liberty National.
Watch the young’ns at The Barclays. Twenty-eight players in their 20’s have made it into the field and with so much in the playoffs weighing on your ability to move up the standings, you can expect aggressive play to be in full force.
Resisting that will be Ridgewood, the A.W, Tillinghast design that opened in 1929. With a potential length of 7319 and playing to a tight par of 71 the constant “59” watch of recent months on the PGA Tour might be taking a vacation this week. The course has a huge mix of holes ranging from 155 to 626 yards, meaning a large variety of shots will be necessary from the winner.
The hole to watch for excitement will be the one known as “Five and Dime,” the 5th, which is the shortest par four at Ridgewood. At only 291 yards from the back tees it is also the shortest par four on the PGA Tour. Whether players try to drive it or lay up and hit a tricky wedge shot to a small, narrow green, the results at this hole could eventually sway the final result.