With the drop of Arjun Atwal’s par putt on the 18th at Sedgefield Country Club we reached the end of the PGA Tour's regular season. The Wyndham Championship was the 37th and final event before the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Where has this year gone?
Looking back, we have seen 14 first-time winners lift a trophy, a list which in addition to Atwal includes three of the year’s four major champions. Not one of those four first-timers will be teeing it up next week at The Barclays in a field that has a much different look this year.
Ernie Els enters the first of the four events in the No. 1 spot followed by Steve Stricker in second and Jim Furyk in third. Phil Mickelson, who despite numerous chances to move up over the summer, still remains the No. 2 player in the world, is fourth in the FedEx Cup standings. The world’s No. 1 player enters the Barclays 112th. With only the top-125 advancing to the playoffs, Tiger Woods is a mere 13 spots inside the magic number occupied by Scott Piercy after his a T-8 in Greensboro.
Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, at 110th, is among the players ranked higher than Woods. And after the conclusion of the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, Pavin has some tough decisions to make. Sept. 7 he’ll reveal his four picks.
Like the FedEx Cup standings, the U.S. team, which as of now does not include Woods, also has a very different look to it this year. Half of the players already on the team are new faces. Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar received automatic bids to their first Ryder Cup by finishing in the top-8 in the final standings.
In addition to Woods, Anthony Kim, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink are among those still vying to suit up for the red, white and blue in Wales and I don’t expect the surprises to end as we enter the Playoffs. There are just four more weeks until someone claims the FedEx Cup and five until we see how team USA will match up against Europe. My how time flies.