With two months to go before the first tee shot is struck in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, much remains to be sorted out.
The top 125 players in the FedExCup standings are eligible to begin the four-event Playoffs series at The Barclays, which will be held Aug. 25-28 at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J. A year ago, it took 380 points to make the field for The Barclays – and a total of 83 players have already earned that many points in 2011.
Seven rookies are among those 83 -- including Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (No. 19); HP Byron Nelson Championship winner Keegan Bradley (No. 22); Bob Hope Classic winner Jhonattan Vegas (No. 24); Valero Texas Open winner Brendan Steele (No. 31); Robert Karlsson, who recently lost in a sudden-death playoff to Harrison Frazar at the FedEx St. Jude Classic; Chris Kirk (No. 50), who tied for second at the Shell Houston Open; and Kevin Chappell (No. 61), who tied for third last week at the U.S. Open.
Another rookie, Scott Stallings, is knocking on the door as well. at No. 84 in the standings.
The history of the FedExCup has shown that it takes more than just qualifying for the Playoffs to make a run at the title and the $10 million bonus, though. In the four previous season-long competitions, only three rookies total have managed to qualify for the Playoffs and advance to the finale at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola: Marc Leishman (2009); Andres Romero (2008); and Brandt Snedeker (2007). All three went on to win Rookie of the Year that season.
Of the players who were in the FedExCup top 30 entering The Barclays in 2010, all but eight continued their strong play through the Playoffs and advanced to the TOUR Championship. And while all 30 players at the TOUR Championship will have a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup, the top five in the standings control their own destiny and can win the FedExCup with a victory in Atlanta. So position in the FedExCup standings entering the Playoffs is key.
With that in mind, Bubba Watson could regain the No. 1 position the FedExCup this week at the Travelers Championship, where he won his first PGA TOUR title last year. Watson, currently No. 2, is only 38 points behind leader Luke Donald, who is idle this week. Watson gained the FedExCup lead in May when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and held it for five weeks, until Donald took over when he tied for seventh at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Of the other players in the current top 20 who are competing at the Travelers Championship, Nick Watney (No. 6), David Toms (No. 8), Brandt Snedeker (No. 12), Martin Laird (No. 15), Webb Simpson (No. 16), Aaron Baddeley (No. 17) and Hunter Mahan (No. 18) could take over the FedExCup lead this week. All but Watney and Toms would need a win to do so.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Another year, same result for Robert Karlsson.
In a finish eerily similar to last year’s tournament, the Swede watched someone collapse on the 18th hole only to find himself come up short in a playoff again.
In 2010, it was Robert Garrigus who blew a three-shot lead that led to a three-man playoff that also included Karlsson and eventual winner Lee Westwood. This time it was Harrison Frazar hitting it in the water on the 18th -- only he outlasted Karlsson in the head-to-head battle, beating him on the third extra hole.
“I cannot say I could have done much more,” Karlsson said. “It was a great match, and someone has got to win and someone has got to lose.”
Karlsson had a chance to extend the playoff to a fourth hole, but his chip shot on No. 12 settled nearly 12 feet away to leave him a difficult par putt.
The Swede missed and Frazar got his first career victory, something Karlsson, who has 11 wins on the European Tour, will have to wait for on the PGA TOUR.
”Chipping here is quite difficult in general,” Karlsson said. “The ball wasn't lying that great. I thought I had the right club and just came at it a bit too low and landed in the down grain and just released too much.”
Still, Karlsson tried to keep his head high after another runner-up in Memphis.
“It was good fun,” he said. “That's why were here. That's why we play. That's the challenge of the game to be here and to play.
“He played great and I played good as well. It's one of those days where I think most of us had a lot of fun out there.”
The playoff between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar will begin on the 18th hole, where Frazar just hit it in the water on his way to a bogey that resulted in the playoff. The order of holes in the playoff will go No. 18, then Nos. 11 and 12 and then back to the 18th if necessary.
18TH HOLE: Karlsson and Frazar both hit it on the green in two on the first hole of sudden-death. Frazar is closer, about 17 feet away. Karlsson is much farther away at 38 feet. Both two-putted for par, however, and the playoff will now move to the par-3 11th hole.
11TH HOLE: Frazar hit a gap wedge on the 134-yard par-3 and did so to the back of the green about 45 feet away. But Karlsson this time was the one who was closer, hitting it to around 20 feet or so. Frazar lagged his putt to tap-in distance, while Frazar missed just right. On they go. Up next: No. 12.
12TH HOLE: Frazar teed off first on the 12th, which has water to the right off the tee. He split the fairway, however, and Karlsson did the same -- though Karlsson is well back of Frazar after what looked like a 3- or 5-wood. There’s about a 70-yard difference between the two. Karlsson still had just a 9-iron in, but he missed the green to the right. Frazar, meanwhile, hit a lob wedge to about 20 feet.
After Karlsson hit an indifferent shot to around 10 feet, Frazar two-putted for par. Karlsson then missed his par putt, giving Frazar his first victory in 355 career starts on the PGA TOUR.
“The last couple years have been really long and really hard,” an emotional Frazar told CBS following the win. “It’s pretty cool.”
For the second straight year, the FedEx St. Jude Classic will be decided in a playoff after another mistake on the 18th hole at TPC Southwind.
Leading by one coming to the final hole of regulation, Harrison Frazar pulled his approach shot left and into the water on the difficult par-4 finishing hole.
That opened the door for Robert Karlsson, who led most of the day. With a chance to redeem himself and force extra holes, Karlsson missed his approach shot to the right of the green but got up-and-down for par, sinking an 8-foot, 9-inch putt.
Frazar, who dropped just off the green and chipped it close, then made his putt for bogey to drop back to 13 under and into a tie with Karlsson. The two will head back to the tee on the 18th hole to begin the playoff.
A year ago, Robert Garrigus triple-bogeyed the final hole of regulation to lose a three-shot lead and was eliminated on the first hole of a three-man playoff eventually won by Lee Westwood.
This marks the ninth straight week that a PGA TOUR event will be decided by one stroke or in a playoff.
With the FedEx St. Jude Classic basically coming down to essentially match play between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar, here’s a look at how the two have played the final three holes at TPC Southwind.
Karlsson has played Nos. 16 through 18 in a collective even par with two birdies and two bogeys. The latter of course could be fresh in the Swede’s mind since he bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to close out his third round.
Frazar on the other hand is a combined 4 under with four birdies and no bogeys -- he birdied Nos. 16 and 18 in the second and third rounds.
There’s a little over nine holes to play for the final group at TPC Southwind, but the way things are going it’s turned into a two-man race between Robert Karlsson and Harrison Frazar in that group.
Karlsson is 13 under (2 under today) and so is Frazar (3 under today) after a bogey by the former on the par-3 eighth. Both are trying to win on the PGA TOUR for the first time in their respective careers.
Retief Goosen is the next closest player, but he’s four shots back after playing his first eight holes in 2 under.
A number of others, including Charles Howell III and Camilo Villegas, are at 4 under and have moved into the top 10 but all are well back of the lead and running out of holes.
After failing to take advantage of the par-5 third hole, Robert Karlsson responded with a birdie on the par-3 fourth.
Karlsson stuck his approach to just over six feet on the par-3, which is playing as the seventh most difficult hole on the course right now.
Playing partner Harrison Frazar, who was briefly tied for the lead with Karlsson, missed the green short but got up and down on No. 4 to save par.
Thanks to birdies on two of his first three holes, including an impressive one from the left rough on the opening hole, Harrison Frazar is tied for the lead with Robert Karlsson at 12 under.
Frazar’s other birdie came on the par-5 third hole, where he rolled in a 16-footer.
Karlsson, meanwhile, also opened with a birdie but he failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. After missing the green left on his second shot there, Karlsson left his pitch short of the green and had to get up and down just to salvage par.
Retief Goosen birdied his first two holes, but he also failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. Still, he’s just three shots off the lead in the early going of the final round.
We’re currently two-thirds of the way through the 2011 PGA TOUR Regular Season, as the FedEx St. Jude Classic marks the final 11-week stretch of 33 weeks toward the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Leader Robert Karlsson sits 98th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-10 in his first 10 starts of the season. That will obviously change today and could in a big way -- Karlsson could move as high as 27th with a victory this week.
Harrison Frazar, meanwhile, entered the week 178th in the FedExCup standings after coming off his first top-15 finish of the season at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he tied for 14th.
Frazar could potentially crack the top 70 in the standings with a win this week. He needs to finish solo fourth or better to move inside the top 125 in the standings.
Currently 145th in the standings, John Merrick could jump as
high as 32nd with a win. Merrick will likely need
to finish solo 14th to move inside the top 125.
Retief Goosen is 147th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-25 finish this season, but he too could make a big leap. Last year, Goosen accumulated 464 points in the final 11 weeks of the season, which included three top-10 finishes. Right now, he’s projected to move to 94th in the standings.