By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Paul Casey entered the Wyndham Championship ranked 147th in the FedExCup. In a weird way, though, that might be working in his favor.
The Englishman feels like he has nothing to lose. So instead of obsessing over how many points he needs to earn to climb into the top 125 and earn a spot in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, Casey has his eye squarely on the Sam Snead Trophy.
The approach appears to be working, too. Casey fired a 65 on Thursday that left him two strokes off the lead held by Jeff Quinney and Tommy Gainey -- and as a byproduct of that success, he's projected to climb 25 spots to No. 122 in the FedExCup.
"I've got nothing to lose this week," Casey said. "So I'm trying
to put myself in a position to win this golf event. I believe I got
to be top four to seal a place for next week and there are top-10
situations, depending on what other guys do.
"So, I'd love to be part of that. I don't need to get too far ahead, don't need to start thinking about that on a Thursday. For me it's focusing on today and I did a very good job of that, actually. I really went out there very relaxed and -- yeah, I didn't get too caught up in sort of worrying about FedEx stuff.
"Because I'm not on the bubble, quite a way outside, I don't need to worry about it quite as much. ... I'm going to go ahead and enjoy and put myself in a position to win it."
ON THE WAY UP
JEFF QUINNEY: No longer fully exempt on TOUR, Quinney is making just his 11th start this year. As a result, he came to Greensboro ranked 215th in the FedExCup and in real danger of missing the Playoffs for the second straight season. A year ago, it was a real heartbreaker, too -- Quinney finished at No. 126, two strokes shy of advancing. On Thursday, though, Quinney fired a 63 that left him tied for the lead with Tommy Gainey and he's currently projected at No. 79. a prodigious jump of 136 spots.
"The only chance I get in the Playoffs is probably winning this week and coming with the attitude of ... basically just push all your chips in and this is what I got," Quinney said., "It's my last chance and don't hold back, try to get out of my own way."
ERNIE ELS: The South African has played in every Playoffs event during the first four years of the FedExCup. In fact, he was ranked No. 1 entering The Barclays last year. Els has struggled with his putter this year, though, and he added Greensboro to his schedule -- making his first apppearance since 1997 -- because he found himself ranked No. 126, trailing Camilo Villegas by .437 of a point. He opened with a 65, though, and projects to move up 17 spots.
"I say to the guys my playoffs have started this week, because
if I don't play well this week I'm not advancing," Els said. "So
most of the other guys have four playoff events, I've got five. I
feel like I need to do well and enough to get to The Barclays and
It's hard not to think about it. There's quite a bit of pressure on us guys lower down the field. You need to perform well."
JUSTIN LEONARD: The Texan, who tied for third at last year's Wyndham Championship, opened with a solid round of 66 on Thursday. Leonard finished Thursday night projected as the bubble boy, which would make a move of 17 spots.
"I'm trying to build a little bit of momentum," Leonard said. "Obviously it's been a disappointing and frustrating year but my game has been better the last few weeks. I haven't been able to get really good scores out of it and so, you know, I would love to play well this week and make the Playoffs but really just I want to kind of build the things on I'm working on and see if some good things happen and I'm going to play a few events in the fall. Hopefully, I'd certainly like to be playing next week."
HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
CAMILO VILLEGAS: He came into the week as the bubble boy at No. 125 and shot an even-par 70. He battled back from bogeys at his first two holes, but couldn't get anything going. As a result, Villegas projects to fall six spots in the rankings and is also in danger of missing the cut.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The Irishman was the last player to commit to the Wyndham Championship, making his decision after the second round of the PGA Championship and delaying what would have been a family vacation to the Bahamas. He came to Greensboro for the first time ever ranked No. 130 in the FedExCup and didn't help his standing in Round 1. Harrington played well early on Thursday, making the turn 3 under but he ended up shooting a 71 that left him in a tie for 71st.
CAMERON BECKMAN: Beckman didn't do himself any favors on Thursday with a late string of three straight bogeys on his back nine en route to a 73. He's tied for 135th at the Wyndham Championship, as a result, and projects to drop from No. 124 to 129th in the FedExCUp standings. He'll likely need to go low on Friday to have a chance.