August 10 2011
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM
With two weeks remaining until the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup get under way, the pressure is on players to gain or maintain their positions inside the top 125.
If the season were to end today, 14 players in the PGA Championship field -- including Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington -- would be on the outside watching the Playoffs begin at The Barclays. Three others -- Camilo Villegas, Heath Slocum and Arjun Atwal -- are ranked between 120th and 125th in the standings. Those three, especially Villegas at No. 125, are anything but safe in their quests to make the Playoffs. Villegas is just fractions of a point ahead of Els, the 2010 regular season points leader who could leap frog the Columbian this week at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Others on the outside looking in are 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (145th), Paul Casey (147th) who finished sixth in last season’s Playoffs race, two-time major winner Angel Cabrera (150th) and 1991 PGA Champion John Daly (199th). Click here for more on the FedExCup bubble and to see how many points separate these players from the 125-man cut line.
LOOKING SAFE: Two players moved across the 125-man cut line last week, and both are now in good position to make it to the Playoffs. Scott Piercy, who won the Reno-Tahoe Open was the week’s biggest mover as he jumped inside the top 100 and Steve Flesch, who tied for third in Reno, made his way to 115 th -- 32 points ahead of Villegas and Els. Being pushed out were William McGirt and Dean Wilson, who check in this week at Nos. 127 and 128 respectively.
NO. 1 ON THE LINE: The battle around the 125th position will not be the only FedExCup point of interest this week at the PGA Championship. Nick Watney, the current FedExCup No. 1, has 11 players chasing him with the potential to move atop the standings with a victory.
Among them are Jason Day, who has two runner-up finishes in majors already this season and Bubba Watson, who lost the PGA Championship in a playoff last year. Phil Mickelson and David Toms, who dueled at Atlanta Athletic Club a decade ago, are also within striking distance. Mickelson, Watson and PLAYERS Champion K.J. Choi could move ahead of Watney with a runner-up finish while No. 3 Luke Donald and No. 2 Steve Stricker are each less than 100 points shy of Watney.
CHAMPIONS PROJECTIONS: Three former major championship winners -- Woods, Harrington and Ben Curtis -- are Nos. 129 through 131, respectively in this week’s standings. Here is what the three needs to do to qualify for the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup:
Woods likely needs a 14th-place finish or better at the PGA Championship to qualify for the postseason since he has indicated he is unlikely to play the Wyndham Championship. Harrington needs a 12th-or-better showing at the PGA to secure his position. Ben Curtis isn’t playing in the PGA Championship and, based on projections, will need an 11th-place-or-better performance at the Wyndham Championship to guarantee his spot.