Notes: Strong Barclays field; Villegas' path; more
The Barclays won’t be like The Players Championship or the PGA Championship, where announcements arrive every five minutes about "of the top 100 players, 99 are in attendance …"
With PGA Tour membership required, a handful of top players (Victor Dubuisson, 22nd; Thomas Bjorn, 24th; Jamie Donaldson, 29th) are precluded from playoff participation. Then there are the world-class players who are absent for various reasons (Tiger Woods, not qualified; Dustin Johnson, not of sound footing; Jason Dufner, not of sound health). Bottom line: 38 of the world’s top 50 and 69 of the top 100 will tee it up.
There will be 24 players in attendance who are ranked 101-150, another 29 who are ranked 151-200 and 12 who are 201-300.
The lowest-ranked player? No. 311, Brice Garnett.
- Mickelson's Tour Championship streak at risk.
- McIlroy, Stenson hope to avoid FedEx Cup spots' jinxes
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THEY MADE IT WITHOUT ANY FLAIR: Six players will tee it up in the playoffs without having recorded a top 10: Brian Davis, 100th; Stewart Cink, 109th; Paul Casey, 118th; Sang-Moon Bae, 120th; Morgan Hoffmann, 124th; and Robert Allenby, 125th.
Meanwhile, Brad Fritsch finished top 10 on three different occasions, yet will be watching the playoffs from his home.
Not really, not when you consider that it’s a season-long points race that often gives the appearance of rewarding mediocrity, what with players finishing 25th to 60th but still getting points. In the end, Fritsch got points in only seven of his 18 tournaments – that’s a whopping 11 missed-cuts or withdrawals – while guys such as Davis (18), Cink (19) and Hoffmann (16) scored points in many more tournaments as they played more frequently.
It’s hard to feel too much pain for Nicholas Thompson, who finished in 126th, one point behind Allenby for the last playoff spot. After all, Thompson missed the cut in 18 of his 30 starts. In the end, Allenby’s cushion in tournaments last fall (he got 58 points at the Frys.com and Mayakoba while Thompson received just 30) could be seen as the difference from being in and being out.
Similarly, Martin Laird and J.J. Henry amassed 425 points each, just 13 behind Allenby. Laird played just 20 times and was hurt by not getting any starts in the majors or WGCs. Henry, meanwhile, piled up 171 FedEx Cup points in four weeks last October and November, but just 32 in the January-to-April stretch.
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NO MAJOR ROUTE FOR HIM: While quite a few of the playoff qualifiers can say they got in without benefit of even one start in the 2014 major championships, only one of the top 75 can make that claim.
The stunning winner of last week’s Wyndham Championship, Villegas has played in just one major in the past three years; he missed the cut at the 2013 Open Championship. This from a guy who played in all four majors for four consecutive years, 2008-2011.
Yet here he is ranked 37th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Not impressed with 37th? If you remember 2008, you might be. That year Villegas won the BMW and Tour championships to finish second to Singh in the overall race for the FedEx Cup title. He entered those playoffs 42nd and was top 10 in two majors that summer.
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SURPRISING NUGGET: Speaking of players who went without a major-championship start in 2014, the name Carl Pettersson jumps out at you. You have to go back to 2001 – when he was a second-year pro – for a time when he didn’t have at least one start in the majors.
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CHEERS TO FARMERS: Swift and proper move by the folks at the Farmers Insurance Open as they wasted little time in extending an exemption for next year’s tournament (Feb. 5-8) to Gunn Yang, the stunning winner of Sunday’s U.S. Amateur.
The young man is a Torrey Pines High School graduate and member of the golf team at San Diego State. No-brainer, wouldn’t you say?
Certainly, the impending invites into the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship will put Yang into more intense spotlights, but it’s likely that the Farmers will ignite a more personal connection.
Give the folks at Farmers a gold star.