As Playoffs approach, race for top 125 tightensAugust 11, 2009
PGA TOUR staff
The golf world turns its focus this week to the season's final major, the PGA Championship at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn., the last event on the 2009 schedule awarding extra FedExCup points with 600 going to the champion. The PGA TOUR's regular season wraps up next week at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., with the top 125 on the FedExCup points list advancing to The Barclays, the first event in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup.
The Playoffs culminate with THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., September 22-27, where the top 30 players in the FedExCup points list will battle to be crowned 2009 FedExCup champion.
No player enters the PGA Championship with more momentum than FedExCup points leader Tiger Woods. A winner the last two weeks at the Buick Open and World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Woods currently enjoys a 946-point lead over Steve Stricker. Winner of THE TOUR Championship in 2001, Woods missed last year's event while rehabbing from knee surgery.
Despite trailing Woods in the standings, Stricker continued his solid play in 2009 with a T6 at the Bridgestone Invitational. A two-time winner earlier this year at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and the John Deere Classic, Stricker has qualified for THE TOUR Championship in each of the last two seasons. Though catching Woods could prove a tall order, Stricker has positioned himself well for one of the coveted top-five positions entering THE TOUR Championship.
The rest of the top five remained unchanged over the weekend, with Kenny Perry at No. 3, Zach Johnson at No. 4 and Phil Mickelson, who returned to action for the first time since his runner-up performance at the U.S. Open, at No. 5. Padraig Harrington, who entered the week outside of the top 125 at No. 142, improved 72 spots to No. 70 on the strength of his T2 at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Though Woods' impressive come-from-behind victory in Ohio garnered the most attention, he was the only PGA TOUR winner over the weekend. John Rollins claimed the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, the third PGA TOUR victory of his career, and collected 250 FedExCup points for his efforts. Enjoying a solid 2009 campaign with three top 10s in addition to his victory, Rollins currently stands No. 20 in the FedExCup standings. Rollins qualified for THE TOUR Championship in 2007 and finished 25th. He failed to qualify last year.
With just two opportunities left to earn points before The Barclays kicks off the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, Ryan Palmer finds himself currently on the hot seat at No. 125 in the standings. Palmer produced his best finish of the season last week, a T5 at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open.
Tickets to THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola are available at www.PGATOUR.COM/tourchampionship. Daily and Weekly tickets are available starting Wednesday of tournament week, September 23.