That is until the travelling circus set up shop at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where on this windblown Saturday more baggage, of the literal and psychological variety, was processed than on Thanksgiving at LaGuardia.
Brandt Snedeker rolled into a share of the lead, which, with all apologies to Snedeker, may have been the day’s least-compelling storyline given what was on the line for so many.
Although the FedEx Cup axe was much more absolute, the finality of it all also was unmistakable for the likes of Anthony Kim, a Ryder Cup lock as recent as a month ago but likely on the outside of captain Corey’s watch list after missing another cut in Boston.
“All of a sudden it’s looking like three easy choices for Pavin (and) one tough one,” 2008 U.S. captain Paul Azinger Tweeted Saturday afternoon.
In no particular order, you have a T-8 (Zach Johnson), T-8 (Stewart Cink) and a TW, who carded his first bogey-free round of the year and is tied for 29th. Mr. Pavin will take three veterans, on form, hold the second guessing.
Johnson, a rare bright spot for the U.S. side the last time the matches were played on the unfriendly confines of the Continent, has made the biggest move in recent weeks. He’s also something of a motivated wild-card after missing the last matches at Valhalla.
“I watched every second of (the 2008 Ryder Cup),” Johnson said. “As I told Corey, 2010 Ryder Cup captain, it was one I was cheering for them like crazy.”
That final pick, however, promises to put the labor back into Labor Day for Pavin, On Wednesday night, Pavin gathered his Elite Eight, those who had already qualified for his team, at a local Fleming’s Steakhouse for a relaxed night of storytelling. He should have been asking for advice.
Golf Channel continued to crunch the Ryder Cup numbers after last month’s PGA Championship, and the perennial favorites seem to be Lucas Glover (No. 10), Sean O’Hair (No. 19) and Rickie Fowler (No. 21).
Among that group, O’Hair hit the ball all over New England and missed the cut in Boston, finishing 97th out of 97 players. Glover and Fowler will be around for the weekend, but neither has been particularly impressive in recent weeks.
At this rate, Pavin may want to check on the immigration status of Paul Casey and Justin Rose, the eighth-ranked player in the world and a two-time Tour winner this year, respectively, who were passed over for picks by European captain Colin Montgomerie.
At least Glover and Fowler have two more days to make their case. For the likes of Spencer Levin and D.A. Points, their playoff hopes went the way of a Red Sox pennant run.
Both began the week as Chicago long shots, Levin 71st and Points 74th on the points list and never broke par.
“Chicago was in the back of my mind, missing the cut was in the back of my mind,” Levin said. “Watching the playoffs last year I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Ditto for Chris Couch, who started the week 67th on the list, signed for back-to-back 72s and will watch the last two playoff tilts from his couch.
That’s not to say no one made hay on Saturday. Steve Marino, who had slipped to 78th after missing the cut at The Barclays, is at 8 under and likely bound for the BMW. Journeyman Kris Blanks has made a similar climb from 91st . Blanks needs to finish inside the top 20 to advance. He’s currently tied for eighth.
But the biggest postseason climb belongs to Andres Romero. The Argentine was mired in his worst season as a pro with only two top-10 finishes, just made it into the playoffs (115th) and finished tied for 52nd at The Barclays to earn the last spot into the Deutsche Bank. Thanks to a 5-under 66 on Saturday and an 8-under total he still has Chicago on his travel itinerary.
Moving Day, indeed.