FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Heath Slocum has reason to be wary of media on the golf course unless it is for a trophy presentation.
Two years ago in the final event of the season, Slocum was so far out of contention at Disney that he teed off on the back nine. As he finished, he saw photographers and a few writers behind the ninth green, and he knew why they were there. Slocum was at No. 30 on the money list, needing to hold down that spot to get into the Masters.
“I didn’t know if they needed a quote because I made the Masters or because I missed it,” Slocum said.
He made a 7-footer for par and held on to the 30th spot by $1,439 over J.B. Holmes.
On Monday in Greensboro, Slocum was trying to move into the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings to qualify for the playoffs when he started dropping shots. A three-putt double bogey on the 14th, a bogey on the 16th, and then more photographers.
“I knew it was going to be close,” he said.
Slocum finished with a bogey, but he was one shot clear of moving into the top 125, sending him to Bethpage Black for The Barclays.
He needs to get into the top 100 in the standings to advance next week to the Deutsche Bank Championship, though he has history on his side. Slocum also was No. 124 in 2009 when he won The Barclays at Liberty National. He wound up at No. 8 when the FedEx Cup ended, giving him a $600,000 bonus.
It was the biggest win of his career, not only because the field was among the strongest of the year, but because of the four players whom he beat: Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Steve Stricker, who at the time had combined for 97 PGA Tour wins and 20 majors.
Now, if he can only find a little more magic at this tournament. And this time, he wouldn’t mind seeing photographers.
“If I see them Sunday, that would be a good thing,” he said. “And I hope I do. I hope I can make it a good story.”
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RYDER CUP: Four years ago, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey stayed in America for the FedEx Cup playoffs instead of going to Scotland for the final qualifying event to make the Ryder Cup team. Poulter missed the cut in the second FedEx Cup playoff event, and lashed out at the media for causing a distraction.
Poulter and Casey were seen in the parking lot together having a chat that day. Both became captain’s picks by Nick Faldo.
This time, there is far less stress, even though Poulter again will have to rely on being a pick.
Sergio Garcia winning at Greensboro assured the Spaniard a spot on Europe’s team, though he wound up bumping Poulter out of the top 10 in the standings. This is the last week to qualify for the European team, but only for those at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where players can earn points from money or the world ranking. Whatever points a European Tour member earns at The Barclays wouldn’t count, because the tournament ends after Gleneagles.
That means Poulter can’t earn a spot on the team, and neither can Padraig Harrington.
Poulter, however, appears to be a lock as one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s two picks, especially after he tied for third at the PGA Championship and moved into the top 10 momentarily. The other leading candidate is Nicolas Colsaerts, the big hitter from Belgium, who is playing at Gleneagles.
Then again, Colsaerts can earn a spot on the team by finishing in the top two. That would knock out Martin Kaymer, and then leave Olazabal with a tough choice. The captain had said Harrington, who has played on every team since 1999, would have to do something extraordinary to merit consideration.
Harrington can’t earn points at The Barclays, but he still might be able to make an impression.
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LOOPER’S LIFE: Sergio Garcia and his caddie, Gary Matthews, split up at the PGA Championship. The Spaniard went to the Wyndham Championship in need of a caddie, and David Faircloth was in the right spot at the right time. Faircloth, a caddie at a private club in North Carolina, was working the pro-am for club member Bobby Long, who wound up recommending him to Garcia.
The rest of the week was a blur. Faircloth was on the bag as Garcia won his first PGA Tour event in four years.
Perhaps the classiest gesture came from Tony Navarro, a longtime PGA Tour caddie who has worked for Greg Norman, Adam Scott and now Bud Cauley. Garcia and Cauley played in the final group at Greensboro, and when Navarro realized how overwhelmed Faircloth was, he unscrewed the flag from the pin on the 18th hole, took it over to Faircloth and said, “Well done this week. This is yours.”
“That flag is kind of our trophy,” Navarro told The New York Post. “I figured he didn’t know, so I just did the right thing and gave it to him. He was a nice kid, and I could tell he was a bit emotional and excited.”
The payoff for Faircloth remains a mystery. Most regular tour caddies are on a weekly salary, along with a percentage of what the player earns, typically 10 percent if they win. Garcia earned $936,000. But the Spaniard wasn’t sure what he should give a club caddie who filled in for the week.
“I’ll have to look at it,” Garcia said. “Obviously, he’s not going to get what a normal caddie would get because his job was fairly easy.”
For The Barclays, Garcia plans on using Wayne Richardson, who works as a spotter for CBS Sports.
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DIVOTS: Arnold Palmer’s reaction to Augusta National adding female members for the first time: “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Condoleezza Rice. I am happy to welcome her as a member of Augusta National and look forward to meeting Darla Moore and welcoming her, as well. I congratulate Billy Payne and the club for taking this significant step in the wonderful history of Augusta National.” Palmer is a four-time Masters champion and a member at Augusta National. … The Frys.com Open will be the first event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, and it will remain at CordeValle. Tournament organizers plan to move it to The Institute, but the clubhouse will not be completed in time to hold the event next year. … Green fees for visitors at the Old Course at St. Andrews will increase by 5 pounds in 2013, to 155 pounds in high season. That’s roughly $245.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: Hunter Mahan has played 78 out of 80 rounds in FedEx Cup playoff events since they began in 2007, the most of any player.
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FINAL WORD: “What happened? They took my jacket away?” — Masters champion Bubba Watson, tongue in cheek, when asked his reaction to the news of Augusta National. The club invited female members to join for the first time.