Sunday at The Barclays
27/08/2012 § Leave a comment
The first leg of the FedEx Cup entered its final 9 holes at Beth Page Black with several emerging storylines. There was the battle at the top for the $1.44 million winner’s cheque, the jockeying for position to get into next week’s Deutsche Bank, and of course the race for the overall FedEx Cup.
ReSergence of Garcia
Mr. Garcia refuses to go away, even in spite of himself. After the seemingly countless collapses at majors, the implicative remarks after the 2007 British Open that he was the only man in the field who was also playing against God, and the foreclosed concession after this years Masters that he is “not good enough to win a major”, Sergio finds himself relevant again. He won convincingly last week at the Wyndham, his first win on TOUR since 2008, and vied for back-to-back victories as he entered his the back nine on Sunday at Beth Page just one shot behind Nick Watney. A 3-over 38 coming in was not how Sergio had hoped to close the tournament, but a T3 this week was good enough to crack the top 10 in the overall standings.
What now, Watney?
Things were setting up to be a two-horse race between Watney and Garcia, but Nick was just too steady coming down the stretch. His three shot victory was his first of 2012, and all of a sudden he finds himself atop the FedEx Cup standings after the first leg. One wonders whether a playoff push by Watney will grab the attention of Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III enough to merit a captain’s selection for the competition next month. Love will make his announcement next Tuesday following the Deutsche Bank, so Watney better take his momentum into next week if he hopes to emerge out of the several other formidable names ahead of him on Davis’ list.
Snedeker Sneeking into the Picture
With his unkempt matted birds nest, usually hidden under the Bridgestone visor, Brandt’s popping jab of a putting stroke seems to jump into the radar ever now and then. He won in a playoff early in the year at the Farmers Insurance, went into hibernation for a few months and then suddenly held the 36-hole lead across the pond at the Open Championship before fading on the weekend. Sneds lurked 2 back of the lead entering his final 9 holes on Sunday, but left a few birdie putts hanging on lips and had to settle for second place.
It was a great weekend for Canadians in New York. Graham DeLaet and David Hearn each sat on the bubble at 106th and 108th respectively, and both needed to make a big move to get into the top 100 and advance to the next leg of the FedEx Cup at the Deutsche Bank next week. They did that and then some. Hearn’s 67 on Saturday put him in a final round pairing with Tiger, where despite having to watch the worst round on the golf course today—Mr. Woods tossed up a 76—he finished T10 at -3, and more importantly moved into 67th in the FedEx Cup standings.
DeLaet outdid his compatriot. Graham fired a scintillating 65 today, good for second lowest of the week, and vaulted into T5 for the tournament and 44th in the FedEx Cup standings. I can’t recall a leaderboard featuring two Canadians in the top 10 since the glory days of the mid 2000s with Mike Weir and Stephen Ames. Both Hearn and DeLaet will play next week, and hopefully beyond.
Other big movers include Bob Estes, Tom Gainey, Jason Day and Jonas Blixt who each have snuck into the Deutsche Bank. Some moves more modest that others, Blixt hardly blitzed his way in with a 67-73-73-73, but was good enough to move from 101st to 97th in the overall standings.
I don’t know why they call it a race. Perhaps it’s because it’s loosely modeled on the Nascar points system. But golf is more like a turtle and a hare playing chess. And the early maneuvering has given intrigue to this month long FedEx Cup battle.
Tiger continued to look out of sorts on the weekend. Needing to post a low number, he offset three birdies with three bogeys on the front before going 5-over on a 5-hole stretch on the back. The feel with the flatstick and inability to adjust to changing greenspeeds continues to plague Tiger. To compound things, nothing looked comfortable for him over the weekend. Pull hooks followed by block fades followed by chunked chips made for an awful lot of pouts and yet more questions about the direction of his game. Nevertheless, Tiger will still be in 3rd going into the Deutsche Bank.
With the volatility that the revamped FedEx Cup scoring system has encouraged, Watney jumped from 49th to 1st with his victory, while Sneds went from 19th to 2nd. Rory McIlroy yoyo-ed around even par all weekend and sits 4th overall.
Others lurking include both Johnsons, Dustin and Zach, Bubba, Carl Peterson, and Jason Dufner, who took the 2007 Tiger approach and sat this one out. I’ll be in touch again this week to set up the Deutsche Bank and make some bold predictions for the rest of the “race”.