The PGA TOUR is divided on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean this week as The Open Championship in Scotland and the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi offer members two opportunities to gain momentum ahead of the FedExCup Playoffs.
A total of 97 competitors outside the FedExCup’s top 100 will be teeing it up in one of those two events with the goal being to accumulate enough points to secure a spot in the 125-man Barclays field in late August.
Muirfield will host 19 of those 97 members outside the top 100, which include four former champions of the event and another two major winners from PGA Championships past. Headlining the group will be reigning Open champion Ernie Els (102nd in the FedExCup), who also took home the Claret Jug in 2002 -- the most recent time Muirfield has hosted this championship. Els has played a limited number of events this year and boasts just one top-10 finish. That result did, however, come in the U.S. Open -- a T4 in his most recent TOUR start.
Two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington is just clinging to a Playoff spot at No. 119 in the standings while other former champs Louis Oosthuizen (140th) and Ben Curtis (142nd) have much ground to make up. Martin Kaymer (131st) and Y.E. Yang (168th) have winning memories in majors and could use some of those experiences this week as they look to make a push for the Playoffs.
Stateside, Annandale Golf Club will host 78 competitors outside the top 100 at this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. Jason Bohn (144th), last year’s runner-up, is among those traveling to the southeast to compete in this 300-point event.
Joining Bohn will be Scott Langley (123rd) and Shawn Stefani (125th), two of the last three players who would be in the Playoffs if the season were to end today. Langley battled it out with fellow-rookie Russell Henley in his debut as a TOUR member at the Sony Open in Hawaii before finishing third. Since then, however, he’s missed 14 of 21 cuts and added just one top 25 finish. Stefani didn’t get off to the same flying start his fellow-rookie opened with but he did earn two top-10 finishes on some of the TOUR’s other shorter southeast tracks (Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course and TPC Southwind). Should that trend continue this week, Stefani could be in position to add some Playoff starts to his rookie resume.
TOUR veterans like Heath Slocum (194th), Jonathan Byrd (183rd), David Toms (169th) and Stuart Appleby (132nd) will be looking to chase down the rookies and move inside the top 125 this week. Appleby was a runner-up to Els at the 2002 Open Championship but finds himself out of the Open for the fourth consecutive year and battling to earn a spot in the Playoffs this season.
Below is a double helping (two dozen) players outside the FedExCup top 100, how high they could move with a first-through-tenth place finish and how far they could fall if they fail to earn any FedExCup points this week.
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