This may not be the playoff fever the PGA Tour had envisioned, but for those with even a passing interest in postseason golf, and a better-than-average understanding of simple math, today is a big day.
Ernie Els (320.033) begins Sunday trailing Camilo Villegas (320.470) by a fraction of a point for the 125th and final spot into the FedEx Cup playoffs which begin next week at The Barclays.
Els, who is currently tied for sixth place in Greensboro, is one of five players who has advanced to the Tour Championship every year since the playoff system began in 2007 and the Big Easy seems poised to crack the top 125 barring a Sunday collapse.
“Not only are we trying to win the tournament, but you don't want to screw up too badly where you might miss the playoffs,” Els said. “There's a lot of pressure.”
Seven of the top 21 players entering Sunday’s final round at Sedgefield are outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup points. No one has to cover more real estate than John Mallinger, who at 212th on the FedEx Cup points list likely needs a runner-up finish or better to secure his spot next week at The Barclays. It would be the largest late-season playoff jump since Scott Piercy vaulted from 140th to 125th in 2009 with a tie for eighth at the Wyndham Championship.
Like Mallinger, Daniel Summerhays (T-5) likely needs a top-3 finish to climb from 178th in points, but the playoff’s biggest surprise may be Paul Casey. The Englishman, who began the year ranked ninth in the world, hasn’t posted a top-10 finish on Tour this season and at 147th in points needs a solid Sunday to keep his season going.
“There are so many connotations,” Casey said. “I think a top 4 would lock it up. I think it's important to shoot for the bigger goal, which is trying to win here for the Wyndham.”