The indelible image left on millions watching the 2010 edition of The Barclays was Matt Kuchar's hand-crafted 7-iron from the rough to its resting place inside the leather at the par-4 18th hole in a playoff. The knockout blow sent Martin Laird into the annals as the forgotten contender at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. (The Scot would be licking his wounds again two months later as one of two victims to Jonathan Byrd's playoff-winning ace in Las Vegas.)
Laird's bid for redemption at Ridgewood will have to wait as he didn't qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs that opens at the A.W. Tillinghast design this week. For the third time, an 18-hole composite course that uses the most challenging holes of three nine-hole tracks at Ridgewood -- the East, Center and West Courses -- will play as a par 35-36=71 measuring 7,319 yards. Ridgewood first hosted in 2008.
Sixty golfers that competed here in 2010 are scheduled to play this week. What they may recall is a fair test that averaged just under par (70.977) four years ago. The field split 62.88 percent of the fairways to rank 21st in all of 2010. The greens-in-regulation split landed at 64.88 percent, good for 19th-lowest. Scoring opportunities on the par 3s (T42) and par 4s (T30) are expected, but the trio of par 5s posed the greatest challenge in 2010. Nos. 3, 13 and 17 averaged 4.89 strokes, highest among all non-majors that season. They were no bargain in 2008, either, checking in at 4.85.
En route to his victory, Kuchar's game overall got better nearer the hole. After ranking T30 in accuracy off the tee and T15 in GIR, he finished fourth in strokes gained-putting and went 62-for-63 from eight feet and in. That included 21 conversions in 22 attempts from outside three feet. He also ranked T2 in both par-4 and par-5 scoring and posted 12-under 272.
Rain cannot be ruled out during the opening round before primarily dry conditions take over for the duration. Cloud cover will help cap temperatures in the upper 70s. Winds are forecast to be moderate but not a major issue.
POWER RANKINGS: THE BARCLAYS
1 Rory McIlroy 2 Rickie Fowler 3 Jim Furyk 4 Sergio Garcia 5 Justin Rose 6 Adam Scott 7 Jimmy Walker 8 Henrik Stenson 9 Phil Mickelson 10 Brandt Snedeker 11 Graeme McDowell 12 Jason Day 13 Webb Simpson 14 Ryan Moore 15 Matt Kuchar 16 Charl Schwartzel 17 Nick Watney 18 Marc Leishman 19 Graham DeLaet 20 Keegan Bradley