IN POSITION: Two players in the field this week at the RBC Canadian Open have an opportunity to move atop the FedExCup standings with a victory. Luke Donald (currently 6th) and Matt Kuchar (No. 8) are both within striking distance of FedExCup leader Nick Watney.
NEEDING A MOVE: Of the 31 players ranked between 110th and 140th in the FedExCup standings, 20 will be playing this week at Shaughnessy. Spots in the top 125 will be there for the taking with four players ranked between 121st and 125th not playing this week. Stephen Ames, playing in his homeland, 2010 regular season points leader Ernie Els and 126th-ranked Steven Bowditch are among those within 75 points of the top 125 with a chance to move up this week. More on the Playoffs bubble
CROSSING THE LINE: There was just one change to the top 125 last week. George McNeill, who tied for 2nd at the Viking Classic, moved from 132nd to 92nd. Falling back was Zack Miller, who dropped from 124th to 127th.
WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN? McNeill’s 40 position leap was the second biggest of the week but 10 spots shy of the 50-position move from Tom Pernice Jr., who went from 212th to 50th after a T2 at Annandale. Anthony Kim moved inside the top 100, to 85th, after a top 10 at the British Open. Camilo Villegas, down seven spots to 114th, is among the players who fell furthest last week. More movers
NEW ARRIVALS: Nine players earned their first FedExCup points of 2011 last week during the dual tournaments at Royal St. George’s and Annandale. Tom Watson posted a T22 finish at the British Open and debuts at 214th in the FedExCup standings while Peter Lonard tied for 9th at the Viking Classic to reach 221st.
A YEAR OF CHANGE: If the season were to end today, two of the 30 players in last year’s TOUR Championship (Paul Casey and Ernie Els) would miss out on the Playoffs altogether. Interestingly, Els and Casey will be playing in the same group during Rounds 1 and 2 this week. A total of 34 of the top 125 in the FedExCup standings were not in the Playoffs a year ago, highlighted by former leader and current No. 7 Mark Wilson, who has won twice in 2011.
MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Chris Kirk became the fifth rookie to win on TOUR in 2011 with his victory at the Viking Classic. Kirk, who was the No. 2 graduate on the Nationwide Tour last year, is currently second in the Rookie Rankings behind Masters champion Charl Schwartzel. Kirk has four top 10s on the year including his win and a tie for second behind Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open.
Chris Kirk's Viking Classic win makes him the fifth rookie to win on the PGA TOUR this year, joining the group of Jhonnatan Vegas, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley.
Kirk's final-round 66 at Annandale included two late birdies on No. 15 and 17 that helped him move a shot past Tom Pernice Jr. and George McNeill, who finished at 21 under.
Kirk earned his TOUR card by finishing second on the Nationwide Tour money list last year. He had the lead entering Round 4, but did not pull away from the field until the final hole. Pernice and McNeill shot 67 and 68 respectively, and held the lead or a share of the lead for a majority of the back nine.
Kirk approached Annandale's finishing par-5 with a one shot lead and played it in winner's fashion -- fairway, layup, green and two putts.
It was a stellar performance that many could see coming from the former University of Georgia standout. Kirk finished second to Phil Mickelson at the Shell Houston Open in April. He also fired a third-round 63 at the AT&T National two weeks ago that eventually led to a tie for eighth.
Kirk earned 250 FedExCup points with the win, and is now No. 25 in the FedExCup Standings.
By Zak Kozuchowski, PGATOUR.COM
Smooth greens and soft conditions led to ultra-low scores in Round 3 at Annandale.
For many players, Round 3 was their second round of the day. But the physical challenge of playing 36 holes in mid-summer Mississippi heat was only evident in their sweat-stained shirts, but not their birdie-filled scorecards.
Behind Kirk sits a group of four players at 17 under, which includes George McNeill, Peter Lonard, PGA TOUR rookie Sunghoon Kang and former Viking Classic winner D.J. Trahan.
"The golf course is very vulnerable and the greens are perfect," Trahan said. "It's playing soft so you can attack and the greens are in awesome shape. They are rolling great. Some guys are making a lot of putts tomorrow."
Another PGA TOUR rookie, Jim Renner, carded a 62, which was the low round on Saturday. It vaulted him nearly 40 spots on the leaderboard, a shot behind the group of players at 17 under.
Tomorrow's weather forecast for Annandale calls for scattered thunderstorms and a high of 85 degrees.
"Hopefully it is a somewhat decent day where everyone can go out and play and get it in," Renner said. "That remains to be seen."
After a birdie on No. 16, Sunghoon Kang looked like he might pull away from the field at Annandale. He had eagled two par 5s, and had another par 5 to play, the 532-yard 18th. But Kang backed up with a bogey on the par-4 17th, and then drove his tee shot into the water on No. 18, leading to a par and a third-round 64. He is tied for the lead at 17 under with Chris Kirk, who is 7 under for his round.
Saturday's final group of Hunter Haas, Peter Lonard and Troy Matteson also failed to capitalize on their good position. The trio is stuck in neutral -- a combined 1 under on a day where players are going really low. Haas and Lonard are currently tied for sixth, while Matteson has fallen to all the way to 28th place.
Jim Renner, who began Round 3 in 45th place, has made eight birdies and an eagle for a bogey-free 62. His rounds of 69-69-62 are currently good for third place.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- The course record set by Chris Kirk? It lasted less than hour, thanks to Nick Watney who bettered it by one with a 8-under 62 Saturday.
Watney’s round was nothing short of spectacular as he closed in 27 with six birdies and an eagle on the back nine at Aronimink, which has seen the course record matched, broken and broken again today.
As a result, Watney is now tied for the lead at 9 under with Rickie Fowler, who is 6 under through his first 12 holes here in the third round.
Steve Marino also matched the previous course record with a 63, but that lasted all of about 5 minutes with Watney finishing right behind him.
“It was nice while it lasted,” Marino said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- With ideal scoring conditions it looked like it wouldn’t be long before someone set a course record and Chris Kirk did just that with a 7-under 63 Saturday.
Kirk had eight birdies and just one bogey on his way to the record and in a round in which he needed just 24 putts.
“I'm somewhat of a streaky player, so when I get on those runs I need to take advantage of it,” Kirk said. “I was hitting some good iron shots, good wedge shots, controlling the ball pretty well, and the way I was rolling it today, it's kind of nice to hit it up there somewhere and there's a pretty good chance you're going to make it.”
At this rate, however, who knows how long it will stand. Rickie Fowler, who is now in the lead at 7 under, is 4 under through his first eight holes, while Steve Marino is 6 under with three holes left in his round.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- For two days, Aronimink looked like a major championship venue. Here in the third round it’s resembling something else with several players going low.
Chris Kirk is 6 under through 11 holes, Kevin Stadler is 6 under through 17 holes, Cameron Tringale is already in with a course record-tying 64. Scott McCarron carded a 65.
You get the idea.
How low will they go? We’ll continue to find out over the next few hours but with 23 players within four shots of the lead there could be some shake-ups on the leaderboard before the day is over
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.