The Barclays begins dollarfest
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2012 The Barclays | Preview | 22 Aug 2012
The long awaited and much vaunted opening FedEx Cup playoffs are finally upon us, the opening event of the four tournament event series beginning this week at the famed Bethpage Black in Farmingdale in New York.
The leading 125 player from the season long FedEx Cup series have made it through to the US$8 million Barclays, the field reduced at the completion of this event to 100 for next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the top 70 for the BMW Championship in Crooked Stick in Indiana and finally to the top 30 for the Tour Championship.
The first three events run back to back although there will be a one week break between the BMW and the Tour Championship.
The Ryder Cup will follow the Tour Championship so for the elite of the game the next six weeks will be amongst the most demanding of their careers and could potentially yield huge riches from the US$35,000,000 FedEx fronts up with each year.
Even for those 25 eliminated at the first phase the bonus for making it to the playoffs provides a minimum cheque of US$70,000 in addition to anything they earn this week.
Those advancing through to the Deutsche Bank Championship are guaranteed US$80,000 plus prize-money for the week and those making it to the leading 70 who make it to Chicago will earn a minimum of US$110,000.
Even bigger bonuses apply to the leading 30 on the FedEx Cup points table who will play the Tour Championship are guarantee a minimum of US$175,000 but even finishing in 10th position assures a player of US$50,000 plus prize-money, third place US$2,000,000 and the winner to receive US$10,000,000.
The structure of the points table for the finals is such that it is now mathematically possible, although hardly likely, that someone currently last on the points list could win the overall series. Tweaking of the points distribution and the condensing of regular season points ensures the FedEx Cup playoffs greater suspense and the possibility of the outcome remaining in doubt until as late as possible.
It avoids the situation where as was the case when Vijay Singh won in 2008 where a player has secured the trophy before the Tour Championship.
This week’s field is headed in terms of FedEx Cup standing by Tiger Woods, followed by Jason Dufner, Rory McIlory, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson.
Woods has been a two time winner of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and in 2002 won the US Open at Bethpage Black. In his last eleven starts this season Woods has been a three time winner and on two other occasions has been inside the top ten. His last start 11th at the PGA was neither good nor bad and he should start as the favourite.
McIlroy arrives off the back of his stunning victory at Kiawah Island and with the confidence that brings he will prove a formidable opponent for not only Woods but the whole field. The world number one seems well past the inconsistent performances he was producing a month ago and his game should theoretically suit Bethpage Black as his 10th place finish there at the 2009 US Open would suggest.
Luke Donald has missed only one cut in the last 13 months and has been a regular contender in addition to the three wins he has recorded in that period. Donald missed the cut when he played the US Open at Bethpage in 2009 but he is a considerably better player now than was the case then.
Keegan Bradley has the length to suit at Bethpage Black and coming off his win at Firestone and his great 3rd place finish at Kiawah Island he appears well placed to play well this week.
Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are both players blessed with the length to conquer Bethpage Black. Watson has been solid enough of late although not at quite the same peak he was earlier in the season and Johnson while not spectacular of late is doing well enough.
Johnson is the defending champion although being on a different layout this year that stat is hardly relevant. He has though won twice in Playoff events previously suggesting he could peak at the right time once again.
Adam Scott gets another chance this week and his form suggests he could have yet another good week. Scott did well at Kiawah and when he played the US Open at Bethpage in 2009 he played well enough.
Jason Dufner seems to contend in nearly everything he plays these days and this week should be no exception.
The Australians in the field are headed by Scott of course but Marc Leishman, Jason Day, John Senden, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Robert Allenby and Rod Pampling are also in the field.
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