Players who control own destiny at East Lake ready to get startedLAKE FOREST, IL - SEPTEMBER 16: Tiger Woods hits off the fourth tee during the Final Round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on September 16, 2013 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)September 16, 2013
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In 2009, the first year of the current FedExCup points configuration, Zach Johnson arrived at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola ranked fourth in FedExCup points and in control of his own destiny.
He finished in a tie for 16th that week and fell to sixth in points, as Tiger Woods won his second FedExCup that year.
Johnson has a chance to write a different ending this time. His win Monday at the BMW Championship secured his spot in the fourth position once again going into East Lake.
With the points now reset, Johnson is one of five players who control their own destiny. Win the TOUR Championship and you're guaranteed the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus.
"This week provided me a great opportunity for next week," Johnson said after his win moved him up from 27th. "... The beauty of what I have now because of this week is I don control my own destiny.
"If I play really, really good, I can win. But I need some help. There's a lot of things that need to go my way."
Once again, he'll have to deal with Woods, who regained the No. 1 spot in points.
Woods had dropped to No. 2 after Henrik Stenson took over the top spot following his win at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But Woods tied for 11th while Stenson tied for 33rd. The difference moved Woods back into No. 1 by a margin of 123 points before the reset.
"We're jockeying for position to be in the top 5, and I was able to accomplish that," Woods said.
The top 5 now consists of 1) Woods; 2) Stenson; 3) Adam Scott; 4) Johnson; and 5) Matt Kuchar.
When Kuchar ended his round Monday, he was projected outside the top 5. But with Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker unable to hold their positions in the top two in the leaderboard, Kuchar found himself back inside the top 5 at the end of the day.
This will be the third time in the last four years that Kuchar has been in the top 5 heading to East Lake. In 2010, he was first. In 2011, he was fifth.
"I'm excited," Kuchar said. "It just comes down to playing good golf. Playing well at East Lake is the real key to the FedExCup."
With Johnson moving inside the top 5, that meant Graham DeLaet moved out, falling from fifth to seventh behind stricker.
The Canadian isn't too disappointed in his position in the seventh spot.
"If you would have told me that in January that I would be seventh," DeLaet said, "I would have definitely taken it."
Stricker, incidentally, would've been inside the top 5 had he finished in solo fourth. Instead, he ended up in a four-way tie with Jason Day, Luke Donald and Hunter Mahan after starting the day in solo second behind Furyk.
In essence, Stricker was one stroke away from a top-5 finish.
While top 5 offers the easiest path to the FedExCup, there are certainly no guarantees. Furyk won in 2010 from the 11th position. Bill Haas won in 2011 from the 25th spot.
Still, the advantage can't be dismissed. After all, Brandt Snedeker won last year from the No. 5 spot.
"All you need to be is top 5," Woods said. "Top 5, you control your destiny. You win the tournament, you win it outright. Sneds proved that last year.
"With the double reset, it's all about positioning."