Since the PGA Tour introduced the current FedEx Cup playoff format in 2009, the weekly elimination has become one of the main storylines each week. Of the 125 players who qualified for the playoff series, only 30 will earn an invitation to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the Tour Championship. As much pressure as there is to win each week during the regular season — a 10 on a scale of 10 — the playoffs have a way of turning it up to 11.
The rewards for wins during the regular season are huge. Players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker – all multi-time winners in 2013 – are all but guaranteed one of the precious few slots in the championship finale. Of course, this means there are even fewer spots available for the lower-ranking players, but the door isn’t completely closed as the Deutsche Bank Championship begins this week. Well, not yet, at least.
Last week at The Barclays, of the 25 players who started the week outside the top 100 – the number to play this week – only five were able to move up enough to continue the quest. Of that group, the highest-ranking player this week is Martin Kaymer, the former world No. 1 who sits 90th and still has his work cut out for him at TPC Boston. The biggest move was made by Greg Chalmers, who’s tie for 37th moved him up 29 spots from 122nd to 93rd.
Obviously, it’s only going to get tougher from here on out. Notable players who need to make a move this week include No. 74 K.J. Choi, No. 77 Ian Poulter and No. 85 Stewart Cink. And I can’t say nothing of players like Scott Stallings and David Lingmerth, who are already in the top 70, but can’t afford to lose spots.
It’s highly unlikely that any of last week’s bubble survivors will repeat that task this Labor Day weekend, but it’s certainly not impossible. The idea of following both the tournament and points leaderboards through the weekend only makes the playoff format more exciting, and that’s a good thing for golf fans everywhere.