Monday Backspin: FedExCup Playoffs will test nerves of veterans and rookies

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Here’s what we know after the last eight months, or 36 events: Very little.

The FedExCup Playoffs are here and the next four tournaments will determine the seventh champion since its inception. But only one -- Tiger Woods -- has ever won it more than once. No one has ever won it two straight years.

This season, we had three first-time major champions. But Woods also won five times while no one else won more than twice.

A No. 1 has won the FedExCup (Woods), but so has a No. 25 (Bill Haas). You just have to be in the field at East Lake a month from now.

Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth hope to be and the way this season has gone they have to be thinking ‘Why not me?’ Reed vaulted to 22nd in the FedExCup standings following his win Sunday at the Wyndham Championship -- where he beat Spieth in a playoff.

It has already been a dream season for Spieth, the soft-spoken but fiery 20-year-old from Texas who became the first teenager to win on the PGA TOUR in more than 80 years then nearly won again at Sedgefield.

At the start of the year, all Spieth, playing with zero status, wanted to do was get his card. Now he’s got as good a chance as anyone to become the youngest FedExCup champion ever as he enters the Playoffs eighth in the standings.

“I'm dying to win,” said Spieth, who was talking about last week’s tournament but might has well have been speaking about his first trip to the Playoffs. “Winning is what it's all about. It doesn't matter about the money, it doesn't matter about what you've made this year, what you've done.

“I love feeling the nerves. I love the adrenaline rush.”

He won’t be the only one feeling them starting this week at The Barclays.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“What hasn't she been able to do for me? I mean she gave up -- she didn't really give up, she put her career that she worked so hard to get, her two bachelor's degrees in school through nursing and health administration into -- to put that on hold and to come out and carry my bag and be with me, I mean I'm lucky. There's not a lot of men that can say that out here.” -- Patrick Reed on his wife and caddie Justine.

“Here is the thing: It's one week, it's just golf. It's my brother's wedding. It's my brother. I'm the best man of the better men, therefore I'm going to be there and I love them both.” -- Zach Johnson on why he’s skipping The Barclays to attend his brother’s wedding.

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

@DJohnsonPGA: @PaulinaGretzky she said yes!!! -- Dustin Johnson announcing to the world that he and the daughter of the Great One are indeed engaged after a whirlwind romance that began earlier this year.

@IanJamesPoulter: Congrats to the Solheim Cup European team on their impressive victory. Great job girls. -- A congrats that holds some weight given the source.

@RobertLusetich: Got many congrats for hole-in-one at Oak Hill on Monday but typically Aussie one from @SharkGregNorman "I always thought that hole was easy" -- FOXSports.com golf writer and Australia native Robert Lusetich after acing the sixth hole at Oak Hill and the response he got from Norman.

THE BACK NINE: 9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Speaking of The Barclays, it might offer a hint to the eventual FedExCup champion, who has for the most part played well in the opener. Tiger Woods, who won the FedExCup in 2007 and 2009, didn’t play The Barclays in 2007 but was second in the event in 2009. Vijay Singh won The Barclays in 2008 en route to claiming the FedExCup title. In 2011, FedExCup winner Bill Haas finished 24th at Plainfield CC, while last year’s runner-up at The Barlcays, Brandt Snedeker, went on to win the FedExCup.

2. The following eight players, meanwhile, will miss the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in their career: David Toms, Padraig Harrington, Chad Campbell, Singh, Jonathan Byrd, Troy Matteson, Sean O’Hair and Robert Allenby.

3. Japanese sensation Hideki Matsuyama won’t be in the Playoffs either, but he will be on TOUR next season after finishing 15th in Greensboro and safely in the top 125 of the money list as a non-member. He has $771,640 in official money this season, putting him well ahead of No. 125 Greg Chalmers ($595,483). Given the changes to the calendar with the 2013-14 season beginning later this fall, that’s huge for job security.

4. Davis Love III missed the cut last week, breaking a streak of 27 consecutive years of being inside the top 100 on the money list. However, Love did tie Jay Haas for most consecutive seasons winning $100,000 or more with 28. Love also increases his record of most consecutive seasons winning $200,000 or more to 25 years.

5. No one moved in or dropped out of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings at last week’s Wyndham Championship, marking the first time in seven years that at least one player has not moved inside the top 125 in the final event before the Playoffs. No player outside the Playoffs bubble entering the Wyndham Championship has made it all the way to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

6. Stat of the Week I: Reed is the first player to win on TOUR with his wife (Justine) as a caddie since Steve Stricker won the 1996 BMW Championship with his wife Nicki caddying. Stricker’s first TOUR win came at the 1996 Kemper Open with his wife on the bag.

7. Stat of the Week II: Reed joins Vaughn Taylor as the only other Augusta State University product to win on the PGA TOUR. Thanks to the win, Reed, the 12th first-time winner on TOUR this year, will be in the field next April at Augusta National.

8. Stat of the Week III: Since returning to Sedgefield Country Club five years ago, the third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win all but one time with Reed extending that streak of sorts this week. The one player to come from behind? Ryan Moore in 2009. He entered the final round tied for ninth four strokes back before a final-round 65 and eventual playoff win over Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler.

9. Stat of the Week IV: Reed is the 12th first-time winner on TOUR this season and first since Spieth at the John Deere Classic. The most in a year since 1970, by the way, is 18 first-time winners in 2002.

MONDAY BACKSPIN MAILBAG
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Which player currently outside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings will make the best Playoff run? -- Nick Flaim

The two that jump off the page to me are Martin Kaymer and Stuart Appleby. At 103rd, Kaymer doesn’t have to climb much to go a couple of events into the Playoff. He’s also played well lately with a tie for 20th at the Wyndham Championship, a tie for 33rd at the PGA Championship (a finish that was largely undone by a third-round 78) and a tie for ninth at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. His confidence is soaring. Likewise, Appleby has saved his best for last with two top 20s in his last five starts, all of which he’s made the cut in. He rebounded from a 76 Saturday at Sedgefield with a 66 Sunday.

Will Rory McIlroy be in the top 5 for the last FedExCup event of the year? -- Paul O’Neill

McIlroy is finally playing some consistently good golf round to round. Can he take it tournament to tournament? We’ll find out over the next month. At No. 49 in the standings, there’s a long way between him and a spot in the top 5, but all it takes is one big week and he has shown that he can flip the switch quickly. My gut, however, says no, he won’t make it into the top 5 by the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and therefore his destiny will be controlled by someone other than him.

How many idiots does it take to yell mashed potatoes? -- Tony Korologos

Don’t expect the shouting to end anytime soon, Tony. As PGA TOUR VP of Communications Ty Votaw told USA Today, “I don't know if it is any more of a concern than it has been, and I'm not sure it has been that much of a concern. As long as they don't do it during a player's swing, it's difficult to police. We clearly want people to have a good time when they come, but we also want them to be respectful, to not only the players but to their fellow spectators. It might be worse in certain places. But we'll keep looking into it.”

Have a question for the mailbag? Email it to brianwacker@pgatourhq.com, or tweet it to @pgatour_brianw.

FORWARD SPIN: WHO I LIKE THIS WEEK
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The last time The Barclays was played at Liberty National was in 2009 when Heath Slocum won, holding off a who’s who that included Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. A lot has changed then -- Slocum and Harrington didn’t even qualify for the Playoffs, and Liberty National has undergone a number of changes. Woods? He finished a shot back of Slocum that year after a pair of 67s on the weekend. Though he’s struggled on the weekends of majors this year, remember, he still has five wins and has played well on venues where he has a prior history of doing well. You can count this as one of them after next week.

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