PGA Tour playoff begin at Barclays

By Doug FergusonAugust 26, 2010, 3:07 am

PARAMUS, N.J. – Ernie Els has been atop the FedEx Cup standings for the last five months, ever since he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his second PGA Tour win of the year. He knew all along he would be playing in The Barclays.

Scott Piercy was among the late arrivals.

He was in dire need of a good finish last week at the Wyndham Championship just to get into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings and be eligible for the first round of the PGA Tour playoffs.

Piercy shot 68 in the final round, moving into No. 125 with two points to spare.

Perhaps it was no surprise, but the first question he faced Wednesday was how well he knew Heath Slocum.

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A year ago, Slocum’s performance at The Barclays raised hope for everyone who narrowly made the playoffs, a group this year that includes Tiger Woods. He held off a world-class list of challengers and won with a birdie on the final hole, changing his fortunes quickly and dramatically. One week after barely getting into the playoffs, Slocum was assured a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship, and all four majors the following year.

“I’m really excited that I’m actually getting to play,” Piercy said. “Hopefully, I can play two or three or four – all of the playoff events – and keep this little run going.”

The fourth year of the FedEx Cup playoffs gets under way on Thursday at Ridgewood Country Club with hope for all, assurances for the few who have played the best this year.

Els is the top seed for the first time, followed by Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson. The points are quintuple the value they were during the regular season, with the top 100 advancing to the second round in Boston and the top 70 moving on to the third in Chicago. After that, the points are reset for the top 30, who will play for the $10 million prize at the Tour Championship.

“Totally different ball game the next four weeks,” Els said. “It’s very important for me to play well, like it is for everybody else.”

But it’s especially true for Woods.

In a year of turmoil off the course, it hasn’t been much better inside the ropes. Woods is winless for the first time in his career this late into a season, and time is running out. With only two top 10s – and two tournaments he didn’t even finish – Woods showed up at The Barclays at No. 112 in the standings.

He was No. 1 to start the playoffs the past three years, even in 2008, when he only played six tournaments. The first year of this playoff system, Woods was so far ahead he didn’t even bother playing in The Barclays.

This time, he had no choice.

“As of right now, I’m only guaranteed one,” Woods said. “So I need to play well to move forward.”

Furyk isn’t going anywhere, at least this week. His cell phone died overnight, which is notable because Furyk uses it for his alarm clock. He woke up at 7:23 a.m., leaving him no chance to get to Ridgewood on time for his pro-am. Players who miss their pro-am time are no longer eligible for the tournament, even in the playoffs.

Mickelson called it a “ridiculous” policy. Furyk blamed only himself. Either way, he is seeded so highly that he probably won’t fall out of the top 10 this week and can put back on his playoff face next week at the TPC Boston.

Mickelson won the Tour Championship a year ago and finished second to Woods in the FedEx Cup. Not only does he have a good chance this year for the $10 million prize, he gets another opportunity at No. 1 in the world.

It’s been that way since The Players Championship, with the odds of that happening moving more in his favor the worse Woods plays.

“I’ve been trying real hard to accomplish that. I just haven’t played well enough yet,” he said. “But hopefully, I’ll be able to put it together this week. I feel like I’m playing much better golf. “

This is the time to do it.

The majors are over, but Mickelson can see the finish line. He has four playoff events over the next five weeks, then the Ryder Cup.

For Woods, the end might come much sooner.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."