McCabe: Welcome to the Tour's 'projected' season

Despite missing the cut, Ernie Els still has an interest in how the Barclays plays out because of the FedEx Cup implications.

Despite missing the cut, Ernie Els still has an interest in how the Barclays plays out because of the FedEx Cup implications.

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

11:54:00 PM ET. 04/19/2014




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1Luke Donald-5F-8
2John Huh-3F-6
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. –- Beware the word “projected.” Treat it delicately and understand it’s more flexible than Camilo Villegas reading a putt.

For proof, consider the emotions of Ernie Els and his support team. When The Big Easy concluded a 3-over 74 in Friday’s second round of The Barclays, he was clearly going to miss the cut. Disappointing, yes, but the really shocking news was that Els was “projected” to fall to 102nd in the FedEx Cup standings.

Such a tumble, of course, would mean Els’ 2013 season would be over, for only the top 100 can move on to the second playoff, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston.

But if it’s possible for a missed cut to feel any better a day later, it might have the case with Team Els early Saturday morning when Round 2 of The Barclays officially ended and the “projected” standings took on a different complexion. With 15 of those players ranked 100-125 having missed the cut or withdrawn, Els’ standing improved. He’ll certainly fall from 82nd, but he’s currently projected to be 92nd.

Not the sort of lofty position the four-time major winner is accustomed to, but good enough to book another week in playoff mode.

Now the halfway point of the action here at Liberty National has certainly been dominated by the world’s best players. No. 6 Matt Kuchar is setting the pace at 11 under, but Nos. 1 (Tiger Woods, 6 under), 3 (Rory McIlroy, 6 under), 4 (Adam Scott, 7 under), 5 (Justin Rose, 6 under), 12 (Keegan Bradley, 7 under), 17 (Charl Schwartzel, 7 under), 19 (Jim Furyk, 6 under) and 20 (Sergio Garcia, 6 under) are seriously lurking, and even Barclays officials are smiling because their lead man, Phil Mickelson, came back with a 69 to make the cut at 2 under.

True, a few big names left early, but such is the nature of the business. Brandt Snedeker, No. 7 in the world and the reigning FedEx Cup champion, would seem to be the most notable casualty of the cut (72-71), but again, the “projected” word comes into play.

Having come into the week third in the FEC standings, Snedeker is projected to fall to only fifth, meaning he could easily play put himself into championship contention with a win at either the DBC or BMW Championship. Depending on what others do, Snedeker could possibly remain top five with two very strong efforts.

So consider his missed cut here hardly devastating, even if he is coming off of a missed cut at last week’s Wyndham. Snedeker is playing for the sixth straight week, the DBC doesn’t begin until next Friday, so you wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the rest will come in handy.

One player who did leave here with a bitter taste in his mouth? Ian Poulter. Though he came back with a second-round 68, the opening 77 proved too much to recover from and so from 70th in the FEC standings, the flamboyant one is projected as 82nd – and that’s not good news heading into TPC Boston, a place that suits Poulter like a pair of khakis and a white golf shirt.

In other words, not at all.

Having played the DBC every Labor Day since the FedEx Cup began in 2007, Poulter in six appearances has missed the cut four times and been T-45 and T-47 the other two occasions. No, you won’t hear him saying that TPC Boston “fits his eye,” a cliche older than the mashie, and because it doesn’t, Poulter’s chances of advancing to the BMW (only the top 70 in the standings do so) would be offered long odds by Vegas bookmakers.

Poulter has never qualified for the Tour Championship and it wouldn’t appear as if that will change for this year.

Graeme McDowell, at No. 9 the only other top-10 player to miss the cut, isn’t particularly suited to TPC Boston, either (T-37, T-74 in his only two starts), but his situation isn’t as dicey as Poulter’s. Having started the week 28th in the FEC standings, he’s “projected” at 42nd right now, and that could improve after the next two rounds of The Barclays are played. For now, it would appear as McDowell can book himself through the BMW (Sept. 12-15), though making the Tour Championship for the first time remains his goal.

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