When Heath Slocum won The Barclays in 2009 in what was the first tournament of the current point structure for the FedExCup Playoffs, he set the precedent for what could be. Slocum famously rose from 124th to third in the standings with the one-stroke victory at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.
In theory, the variable of the unknown should level most competitions. Toss in the timing of the indoctrination by fire of a three-year-old host track and the potential for some serious churn increases. The element of patience may not be more important at any other time given the stakes. There's no question that it's a fan-friendly angle that was fulfilled by Slocum's triumph.
Liberty National took heat for its penal setup. The rough stood four inches and über-undulating putting surfaces led to the course ranking as the most difficult all season in hitting greens from lies off the fairway (34.85 percent). Hitting GIR from anywhere was a challenge as the field averaged 55.3 percent, second lowest of all courses in 2009. Its scrambling clip measured 57.45 percent, good for 17th-lowest. With a scoring average of 72.282, it played as the most difficult par 71 that year.
In response to the criticism, the Bob Cupp-Tom Kite collaboration made changes to 15 holes for its return this week. Sharp inclines on 12 greens were reduced and fairways will be wider to aid against the wind directly off New York Harbor. Five holes -- Nos. 3, 5, 6, 7 and 18 -- were shortened 7-18 yards. The par-4 16th was extended by one yard. The net 66-yard drop overall lists the course at 7,353 yards on the card. It plays as a par 36-35=71.
A small chance of rain late on Thursday serves as Mother Nature's only threat. Otherwise, primarily sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 80s are anticipated. The aforementioned wind is the X-factor, but nothing significant is forecast.
In place of Stats Suggest this week, please keep an eye out for my Power Rankings for the FedExCup Playoffs. It will feature notable nuggets, trends and a projection of the top 30 golfers.
|Power Rankings: The Barclays|