by Jeff Skinner
Last year at Liberty National the FedEx Cup Playoffs got off to rousing start with Heath Slocum taking down the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Paddy Harrington and Steve Stricker. Slocum entered the 2009 Barclays at 124thplace in The FedEx Cup points list and stole the show from the big name golfers. All he did was sink a twenty foot par putt on the eighteenth hole to win the first tournament of the playoffs. It was a true Cinderella story and it kicked off a great string of tournaments. The next three weeks saw Stricker, Woods and Mickelson win in succession. If Tim Finchem could sign up for a replay of last year he would do it in a hurry.
That was then and this is now. The Barclays has moved to a different course and Slocum is now 50th in points. Who will be this years’ Cinderella story? Maybe #124, Robert Garrigus will be. Maybe David Duval at #120 will be the story. There are 125 players trying to move on to next week and this should be an interesting week.
Tiger will be getting into action a little earlier than he is used to. The start times for The Barclays are based on the FedEx Cup rankings and since Tiger is 112th he gets to be in the first group off at 7:10 am. That’s usually a good time for his practice round but Woods is used to sleeping in a little bit longer. There are still some that like Tiger’s chances to win but he’ll need some magic to pull himself out of the deepest funk he has ever seen. With his divorce now final maybe Woods can find some peace of mind and put four rounds together.
If Dustin Johnson doesn’t win another tournament this season it will be a sin. Johnson had two majors within his reach only to throw up on himself at The U.S. Open and be bunkered at The PGA Championship. OK, so he has a win at The A.T. & T. Pebble Beach, but this guy was there for two majors on Sunday. How about a little love for a real hot golfer, Johnson could win the whole darn thing.
Ernie Els is number one in Cup points and has two wins. He wanted a major really bad this year and had a shot at The U.S. Open but missed his chance. A win in the playoffs and The FedEx Cup would be a nice substitute for his missed major.
Phil Mickelson returns to the New York Metropolitan area as a “local” favorite. No player is as loved in the New York area as Phil is. He’ll feed off the energy of the fans and try to get all parts of his game working in sync for a change. Phil’s season is already a success with his Masters win but he has been off his game recently.
Rory McIlroy would be a welcome champ at The Barclays. The “young stud” could breathe some very young life into the playoffs and give Finchem the buzz that he wants. Rory already has a win this year and has three top tens in his last three starts including third place finishes at The PGA and The Open Championship.
Quick one: Who leads the tour in actual scoring average and top ten finishes? Surprise… Matt Kuchar, that’s right, Kuchar. Heck he has earned $2.9 million and hasn’t won this year yet. This could be his time. He is one of the hottest players on tour.