The PGA Playoffs’ Round One is Done, and We’re in for a Wild FedEx Cup

The Barclays kicked off the FedEx Cup Playoffs, at Bethpage Black, in Farmingdale, New York, home of two US Opens in the last ten years; although, the legendary course wasn’t the story: The players brought all the drama; Bethpage was just the venue.

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Watney Wins; Sergio Goes for Two-in-a-Row; Dustin Johnson Defends; and Brandt Snedeker?

The final group was the same on Saturday and Sunday, which was good for television, and the last pairing did have some incredible moments.

Sergio Garcia and Nick Watney fought valiantly for two days of golf, but what looked like a sure thing for the Spaniard after taking the lead on Hole 13 on Saturday turned sour on Sunday.

Sergio was the only player in the whole field to register three rounds in the sixties to start the play at the Barclays—like I said, a sure thing, right? But then Sunday happened…

To put it mildly, the last group had a lot of potential company towards the top as the numbers came in. The defending champ Dustin Johnson posted a (-6) early, so that was the mark for which everyone was shooting. Then, Brandt Snedeker gave the field a real jolt: The only set of four rounds under par (70-69-68-70) for (-7) total.

But what the Barclays came down to was a one-on-one battle with an obvious victor: Nick Watney.

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Sergio Garcia fulfilled the status quo of this season: Losing a tournament by handing it over, for Watney played to form: Bogeys on Holes 11 &12 for the second consecutive day after riding the waves of Saturday’s strong close out of the gate. (Nick Watney had the only birdie on Hole 17 for all of Saturday.)

It looked like Garcia would win two in a row; who didn’t think it’d happen?

You need to play the same course four times, and when it’s all said and done, you can try and dissect the numbers via crazed mathematics and what ifs, but if you just list the scores in order of their occurrence—Watney 65-69-71-69; Garcia 68-66-69-75—you’ll see all you need to know.

Golf is an endurance test; you got to sleep on things; you have to live with things; you walk the same matted paths for days. Some sports aren’t even about abilities (all these guys can play), yet you still need to stand over the ball and execute. Think of these things the next time you watch.

Tiger Watch

This is literally becoming theater. Shakespearean would be a word one could use as an adjective for Tiger’s golf game as of late: Highs, lows; peaks, valleys; triumphs, tragedies.

The man could barely walk on Friday because of a bad back, but Mr. Woods still shot below par.

Other than probably Rory McIlroy, there’s no one else this season that, if playing well, can’t be touched. In fact, the two of them paired together showed us just how comparable they’ve become; the talent is undeniable, the poor rounds unexplainable, but you’d rather walk into on-coming traffic than turn your head for even a second: No matter how they’re playing.

Rory and Tiger even suffered from the same self-inflicted fall on the leader board. Rory went up and down for four days (69-73-69-72); Tiger, however, just got progressively worse.

A rundown of 68-69-72-76 from Tiger Woods doesn’t even tell the whole story truthfully. One club got into Tiger’s head, and it never left him anything other than in utter turmoil. It’s the sign of a true perfectionist when not even the pain registering in the brain can stop you; only the failures and foibles of yourself stand in your way.

Tiger’s destructive club of choice wasn’t even the driver—it was the putter. Four three putts—four—and it’s the only time in his entire PGA career he’s ever done that. Essentially one club, the last one you use one nearly each and every hole, the damn thing is unavoidable if it’s causing you heartache, took away Tiger’s chance at three-straight rounds in the sixties (something only Sergio had done, as mentioned earlier), and he never saw negative numbers again.

Tiger said all the right things after his Round Three 72: About his back pain—“I got great treatment”—on the greens—“[It’s] unbelievable how slippery they were”—and of his play—“I played the round I needed to play…I just didn’t putt [well]”; but the round loomed, for the hangover that plagued him on Sunday from the round that could have been had made too many mental scars to be overcome.

The Big Mover at the Barclays

One really can’t talk enough about Graham DeLaet in this instance. The Canadian moved from out of the playoff picture—and completely off my radar—to a safe enough place to not just play this week-end, but DeLaet in going from 106th-to-44th in the standings could be seeing the next two golf outings in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Maybe I shouldn’t say completely off my radar—because he was one of the people I listed in my notes after the cut as close, yet not quite, into the next phase of these playoffs. And one of the others, Trevor Immelman, set himself up for a move into the top-100 players in the same fashion.

Immelman shot 75-66 for (-1), and DeLaet did 75-67 for (E). [The cut was (+2).] They stood projected 101 and 105 respectively, but they each had proved they could handle the course for at least one more decent round and put themselves into next week’s field.

Problem was: Immelman shot two more 75’s, and his projected ascent in the standings (he was actually in 117th headed into this thing) was stifled.

DeLaet looked to be in the same boat as Immelman following a 72 on Saturday, and then, on Sunday he bogeyed Holes 4 and 5 back-to-back. Uh oh.

But that was enough of that positive malarkey—and the man from our neighbor to the north took everything the opposite direction in what turned out to be the most impressive round of the day—possibly the playoffs up unto this point.

Four birdies over the next five holes, an eagle on Hole 15 and birdies on the last two holes put DeLaet in the clubhouse at (-5), and it ended up being good enough for a T5 finish. Magnifique Monsieur.

Random FedEx Notes

Next up is the Deutsche Bank Championship, in Massachusetts, followed by the BMW Championship, in Indiana, and then a week off before the finale at the Tour Championship in Georgia.

Webb Simpson moves into the defender’s chair this week-end, and like heading into last week, I don’t really like last year’s winner in this spot. He’s been descending in the rankings—much like another Major winner of the year past, Ernie Els—so I can’t put him on my short list.

Two guys to really watch would be Dustin Johnson (my pick to take the tournament) and Bubba Watson. These guys proved worthy as of late: As points gatherers, as well as consistent players. Basically, when they find their rhythm, they’re in complete command.

Points wise, moves were made: Big Ones…

Watney and Snedeker of course placed themselves at One and Two in the rankings, but the likes of Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia (despite his trials and tribulations) moved into the top ten—8th and 10th respectfully.

We, also, had Brian Harman climbing the ranks because of a T5 finish, catapulting himself from 97th-to-41st.

For those watching the bubble of the top-70 players, look for J.J. Henry (winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open) and Jason Day to make plays to get into the BMW Championship, for each of those gentlemen are within striking distance.

Enjoy the golf; I sure will…


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