Lots of subplots going into Cog Hill

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September 14, 2011
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor

LEMONT, Ill. -- Luke Donald wants to improve his standing in FedExCup points. Jim Furyk has to improve his standing, or else go home. Furyk also wants to secure his Presidents Cup position, as does David Toms. Others, such as Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore, are outside the bubble for both the FedExCup and Presidents Cup.

Depending on a player's perspective this week at the BMW Championship, he can feel good about his FedExCup chances and nervous about his Presidents Cup position. Or vice versa. Or both. Or neither.

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It'll be the tournament within the tournament within the tournament when the first round begins Thursday. For the next four days at Cog Hill, the projections and predictions and the subplots will be flying for the 70 players in the field.

The top 30 in FedExCup points advance to next week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, where the FedExCup will be decided. The top five in points will control their own fate at East Lake. And the top 10 in the Presidents Cup standings for the U.S. and International teams after this week will be guaranteed spots for November's showdown in Australia.

Oh, and there's also the primary business of trying to win the oldest non-major event on the PGA TOUR.

"There's a lot riding on the line here," said Steve Stricker, who has his place on the U.S. team secured, as well as his place in the top 30 in FedExCup points although he's still seeking a top-five spot (he's currently eighth).

Furyk, the defending champ of the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship, is outside the bubble and not yet guaranteed that he'll be able to defend either title next week. He starts this week 35th in points. He's also ninth in Presidents Cup points. The next four days are huge for him for a number of reasons.

Just listen to him read off his goals this week: "Try to stay in the top 10 in Presidents Cup points; try to move into the top 30 (in FedExCup points); and then hopefully there's some icing on the cake and you can play well and move up high in the points and give yourself a chance (at East Lake)."

Toms is 20th in the FedExCup points, a good-enough spot that he doesn't have to sweat out whether he'll advance to East Lake. But he's also 10th in Presidents Cup points, making him the bubble boy in that regard. With several players behind him within striking range, Toms can't afford to have a bad week.

If he does, he may lose his opportunity to play at Royal Melbourne. But the 44-year-old is intent on keeping his focus simple -- play his best on a course that doesn't exactly suit his game.

"I've been in similar situations before, so I'll just have to go out and play well," he said. "(His Presidents Cup spot) is not something I'm thinking about too much. It's a hard-enough golf course. I've got to go out there and play it. Hopefully in the end, it'll work out for me."

Like Toms, Geoff Ogilvy is the bubble boy on the International side. Ogilvy played his way into the BMW Championship after starting the previous tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship, ranked 91st in the FedExCup.

Now next-to-last in FedExCup points at No. 69, Ogvily needs a great week to keep his Playoffs alive. And he needs a "reasonable week" -- his words -- to earn a spot on the International team. He desperately wants to play in the Presidents Cup in his home country.

"I've got a house that actually backs onto the golf course at Royal Melbourne now," he said, "so I would like to play, yeah."

Webb Simpson, who enters this week No. 1 in points after claiming the Deutsche Bank Championship, is guaranteed to have a top-5 position no matter how he finishes at Cog Hill. That's important since points are reset, giving any player in the top five the chance to automatically win the FedExCup by winning the TOUR Championship.

Simpson said this week that his mind has already drifted "a little bit" about winning the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus.

"You know, at the end of the day, we want to win golf tournaments," he said, "but when $10 million is at stake, you can't not think about that.

"Part of me is kind of happy this week isn't determining who's going to win because you get one more week to focus on the golf."

Well, for Simpson, he can just focus on the golf. For most others at Cog Hill, the focus is on golf ... and the FedExCup ... and the Presidents Cup. Suffice to say, there will be a lot of scoreboard watching on many fronts this week.

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